The ISSLS (International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine) international conference will celebrate its 50th anniversary in Italian style. Indeed, the conference, taking place from 27 to 31 May, is this year being held in Milan, home of the Isico headquarters. In fact, our scientific director, Prof. Stefano Negrini, and Dr Fabio Zaina, Isico’s physiatrist, will be local hosts for the event.

This is an important opportunity not just because the society, created in 1974, holds its conference in Europe only once every 3-4 years, but also because it has always included only carefully selected members, who are among the world’s most important clinicians and scientists.

We put three questions to our own two specialists, so let’s see what they say about ISSLS and the event they will be coordinating.

“It is certainly the most important society dealing with the lumbar spine. Yes, there do exist larger ones with more members, but it’s important to remember that ISSLS, ever since its foundation, has always pursued a precise strategy: few members (they currently number around 250 worldwide) selected according to rigorous criteria”, explains Prof. Stefano Negrini, who has himself been a member of the society since 1999, when he was one of just three Italian members. “This approach ensures that its events are a stage for presenting the best research, generating the best articles published in the following year. A virtuous circle!”.

“It is the oldest society dealing with the spine in a multidisciplinary way, a true benchmark for all those who work in this sector”, adds Dr Zaina (a member since 2009), “and in fact, between 400 and 500 people are expected at the May event in Milan”.

2) How is the Italian presidency thinking of shaping this Milan event?   

“First of all, we are keen for our Italian colleagues to participate. It is a unique opportunity because ISSLS conferences are often held in far-flung parts of the world (there has only ever been one conference in Italy — in Rome, several years ago), whereas this year we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary on home soil”, Dr Zaina continues. “In the event programme, we have included tours to introduce visitors to the beauty and attractions of Milan and Lombardy”.

“The event will have a strong Italian flavour in scientific terms, too”, remarks Prof. Negrini. “In fact, as organisers we have had the honour of choosing and inviting the speaker for one of the conference’s two keynote speeches. We have invited Prof. Giacomo Rizzolatti, a world-renowned scientist, famous for discovering mirror neurons, which are activated both during the execution of targeted movements, and during observation of similar movements performed by others. It is a discovery that, in our field, has made it possible to develop rehabilitation techniques to teach motor actions”.

3) We are not strangers to holding presidencies (having fulfilled similar roles for Eurospine and Sosort among others), so what will Isico bring to the table? 

“Being members of ISSLS (the Italian members can currently be counted on little more than the fingers of one hand) and being asked to host this international event are sources of great pride for Isico, and a confirmation of the importance of our scientific research in recent years”, our two specialists say. “And then, obviously, we at Isico have also submitted research contributions and are waiting to know how many, and which ones, will be accepted”.

So, now all that remains to say is to visit the event website to register and participate. Save the date, and we’ll see you in Milan!