July 2015 — Ever since their five-year-old daughter was diagnosed with type 1 at the tender age of 19 months, Paola and Piero Ludovico Gandini have been engrossed in the search for a cure. Residents of Bovezzo, a city in northern Italy, the couple scoured the Internet to determine what research facilities were leading the international effort. Their digital quest led them to the Diabetes Research Institute, but it was the dedicated Italian investigator at the helm of the organization that particularly intrigued them. Mr. Gandini was immediately interested in speaking with Dr. Camillo Ricordi to better understand the research currently being conducted and to learn how his family could personally get involved in the DRI’s mission.
After making a small initial gift through the Institute’s website, DRInet.org, Mr. Gandini was surprised to receive a return thank you email, written in his native language, from none other than Dr. Ricordi. The Gandinis were more determined than ever to visit the DRI.
Already firmly entrenched in the diabetes community, the Gandinis head Sostegno 70, whose mission is to awaken public opinion to the diabetic pathology and to support and promote research for a definitive solution to the problem. From its summer school courses and support groups to providing financial aid scholarships and hospital volunteers, Sostegno 70 has earned local media attention, as well as support from private foundations and “a remarkable group of friends.”
“In the beginning, we were very sorry for what was happening to our daughter, and even more worried when faced with the daily therapy,” Mrs. Gandini said of her youngest daughter. The couple has three girls. “We realized that we had to reorganize our lives.”
Frequently in the U.S., Mr. Gandini is the president of an international lighting company, Flos Lighting, which operates a subsidiary in Huntington Station, Long Island. During one of their trips, the Gandinis visited the Institute, speaking with many of the scientists and clinicians as they toured the research laboratories. “The impressions I had were of extreme professionalism and determination to discover a definitive cure,” stated Mrs. Gandini. “Also, we saw a lot of enthusiasm and warmth towards those who, every day, live with this pathology.”
Thirsty for more, they attended New York’s fourth annual Research Conference, which, Mrs. Gandini confirmed, solidified their confidence in a cure for the future. Inspired by the Institute’s scientific advancements, and coupled with the passion of finding a cure for their daughter, the Gandinis made a gift of $250,000 to the DRI, which they have designated to be put toward the specific area of tolerance induction.
Mrs. Gandini concluded, “We think this area of research is very important since the solution against immunosuppression seems to be the last obstacle.”