Miami (November 25, 2009) – Camillo Ricordi, M.D., the Stacy Joy Goodman Professor of Surgery, Distinguished Professor of Medicine, and Scientific Director of the Diabetes Research Institute at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, was knighted in the Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana (the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic) during a ceremony last night at the Coral Gables home of the Consul General of Italy Marco Rocca.
Dr. Ricordi was bestowed with the Italian honor of “Cavaliere Ufficiale” (Officer). Only in exceptional circumstances can someone be knighted at the level of “Cavaliere Ufficiale,” skipping the mandatory first level of “Cavaliere” (Knight).
Knighthood in the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic is the highest recognition that can be conferred by the President of the Republic. The Order rewards merit in the fields of science, literature, arts, economics and public service as well as social, philanthropic and humanitarian contributions.
“Dr. Ricordi is a brilliant physician and scientist with an outstanding academic and professional record that has resulted in providing important services to Italy by developing innovative and advanced techniques for the treatment of diabetes,” said Consul General Rocca. “His techniques, which are also used in Italy, have improved and saved the lives of countless citizens of our country. Dr. Ricordi has contributed positively to the image of Italy in the United States and amidst the international scientific community.”
With a tradition that dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries, the Order of Merit was reinstated in 1951 by the Italian Parliament and is divided into the following hierarchical degrees: “Cavaliere” (Knight),”Ufficiale” (Officer),”Commendatore” (Commander), “Grande Ufficiale” (Grand Officer), and “Cavaliere di Gran Croce” (Knight of Grand Cross).
“It is a great honor for me to be recognized with this title that I accept on behalf of the hundreds of Italian scientists who were unable to complete their professional dream in their own country, because of lack of resources, infrastructure and strategic investments in research,” said Dr. Ricordi.
“Last night a great honor was bestowed upon Camillo who officially became a ‘Cavaliere Ufficiale’ in Italy, a title of merit that is only attributed to the most exceptional Italians,” said Miller School Dean Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., who attended the ceremony.
Dr. Ricordi is considered one of the world’s leading scientists in cell transplantation, and is well known for developing the automated method for islet cell isolation. The procedure made it possible to isolate large numbers of pancreatic islets and is now used by laboratories worldwide performing clinical islet transplants in patients with type 1 diabetes. Dr. Ricordi led the team that performed the first series of successful clinical islet transplants in 1990. Even though he was born in New York City, Dr. Ricordi grew up in Milan, Italy, where his family’s roots and music business stretch back hundreds of years. Casa Ricordi, founded in 1808, is the premier music publishing house in Italy.