Lelio Orci was born in San Giovani, Italy, in 1937 and obtained his MD from the College of Medicine at Rome University in 1964. He started his career as an assistant professor at the Institute of Histology and Embryology, University of Geneva Medical Centre in 1967, and rose to full professorship in 1973. He chaired the Department of Geomorphology at the Medical School of Geneva University between 1972-2002, and was a researcher or visiting professor at several universities, mostly in the United States.
Professor Orci dedicated his entire career to cell biology research and the study of the islets of Langerhans, in particular the beta cells. He carried out pioneering studies on the ultrastructure and immunocytochemistry of beta cells. His studies were instrumental for better understanding of the structure and function of those cells, the mechanism of Insulin synthesis, storage and secretion, the secretion and mode of action of Glucagon and the regulation of pancreatic hormone secretions. More recently, he has been collaborating with Professor Rothman and other scientists in a series of landmark studies on the molecular basis of vesicular trafficking. These studies have profoundly enriched our knowledge of Diabetes and contributed to the development of drugs to control it.
Professor Orci’s seminal contributions were published in more than 500 papers in international journals. According to ISA and The Scientist, he is one of the most cited researchers in the field of diabetes research. His accomplishments were recognized by the international scientific community throughout the world. The recipient of 13 international prizes and 3 medals, in addition to the King Faisal International Prize for Medicine, Orci has a long list of invited lectureships and conference presentations. He was awarded honorary doctorate degrees in Medicine from the University of Levant in Belgium and the Universities of McGill and Guelph in Canada. He is also an elected member of the European Academy of Science, the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences and the US National Academy of Science and Honorary Member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Italian Diabetes Society and the Argentine’s Physiological Society. He was awarded the Order of Commander of Honor by the Italian Government.
After his retirement, Professor Orci was appointed distinguished Professor in the Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism in the college of Medicine in Geneva University. In 2007, he was elected Honorary Fellow of the European Association for Diabetes Research. In the same year, he was awarded the Leon Lombarti Prize.
Professor Lelio Orci, has been awarded the prize,for his pioneering work on the morphology and cell biology of the islets of Langerhans. Professor Oral’s ultrastructural and immuno¬histochemical studies of islet cells have elucidated not only their structure, but have also yielded new understanding of their function. His elegant studies demonstrated for the first time the paracrine functions of these cells.