Two centuries ago, Lazzaro Spallanzani, a Professor of Natural Sciences at the University of Pavia, revolutionised the field of reproduction by artificially inseminating a female poodle that subsequently gave birth to pups. This experiment was the first step in manipulating gametes outside the body and paved the way to present-day in vitro techniques used in human and animal fertilisation. As part of the bicentennial celebrations of the death of Spallanzani the Laboratory of Developmental Biology of the University of Pavia, led by Professors Carlo Redi, Silvia Garagna and Maurizio Zuccotti, organised a meeting where leaders in the field of reproduction discussed the most important advances made this century. Lectures were given by R. Schmid, C. Redi, E. Capanna, W. Hilscher, M. Handel, R. Yanagimachi, R. Dallai, B. Dale, A. Byskov, E. Topfer-Peterson, P. Wassarman, K. Swann, R. Schultz, K. Campbell and E. Fox Keller.
On this occasion, in recognition of 35 years of highly innovative and productive research, the North American Editor for Zygote, Ryuzo Yanagimachi, was awarded The Laurea Honoris Causa by the University of Pavia. Yana's studies have had an undisputable impact on both basic research and its application to biomedicine, and range from the first in vitro fertilisation with capacitated sperm and the first intracytoplasmic sperm injection to the successful cloning of mice using cumulus cell nuclei. Congratulations from all at Zygote to Yana.