In 1968 the National Research Council of Italy set up the National Group of Cybernetics (later to become Group of Cybernetics and Biophysics) and two Biophysics Laboratories:
- The Laboratory for the study of Biomolecules and Cells in Pisa
- The Laboratory for Cybernetics and Biophysics in Camogli
In those times, it was commonly believed that the study of cell and sub-cellular mechanisms could constitute a seamless field of investigation with the study of cell communication in intelligent organs and even of machine intelligence.
In this perspective, the Cybernetics and Biophysics group in Genova focused on two highly complementary main areas:
- image recognition, artificial intelligence and machine vision on the one hand
- ion transport through natural and artificial membranes, photoreceptor response to photons and animal learning on the other
Over time, scientific interests in cybernetics diminished or shifted to new directions while Biophysics continued to grow, resulting in a new reorganized institute based in Genoa with research divisions in four Italian cities..
As discussed, Biophysics has been a major research subject in the National Research Council of Italy for many years and even more so today as one of the institutes of the Department of Materials and Devices. The reason is straight-forward: as well as contributing to improving the quality of life, biophysical research has the potential to help solve physics and biology issues affecting each and every one of us:
How will we continue to get sufficient energy? (Energy)
How can we feed the world’s population? (Food and sustainable agriculture)
How do we remediate global warming? (Global warming)
How do we preserve biological diversity? (Biodiversity)
How do we secure clean and plentiful water and soil? (Environment)
NOTE. From the presentation given by Dr. Franco Gambale, IBF Director, at the twentieth national congress of the Italian Society for Fundamental and Applied Biophysics “The advent of biophysics and the Italian Society for Fundamental and Applied Biophysics”