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  • Federico Jarach

In Memoriam: Prof. Guido Sessa, A Beacon in Plant Pathology and Immunity Research

It is with heavy hearts that we at AISSI, the Association of Italian Scholars and Scientists, pen this tribute to one of our most distinguished members, Professor Guido Sessa, whose incredible life journey took him from the Italian shores to the academic landscapes of Israel and the United States, carving an indelible mark on the field of plant sciences.

Born in Italy on April 26, 1964, Guido Sessa embarked on his quest for knowledge early in life. He moved to Israel in 1983, where his insatiable thirst for knowledge found fertile ground. He pursued his Bachelor's degree at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem from 1985 to 1988, majoring in Agriculture. Further enhancing his academic profile, he earned a Master’s degree and then a Ph.D. degree from the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, focusing on Plant Genetics from 1988 to 1996.

Taking his research to a global stage, Prof. Sessa spent the subsequent years as a BARD Postdoctoral fellow at Purdue University and Cornell University in the United States, contributing immensely to the Departments of Agronomy and Plant Pathology respectively.

Upon his return to Israel, Prof. Sessa’s brilliant career in academia continued to bloom. From a Lecturer at the Department of Plant Sciences in Tel Aviv University in 2000, he meticulously climbed the echelons, becoming a Senior Lecturer and subsequently an Associate Professor. His tenure culminated in his esteemed role as the Full Professor and the Head of the School of Plant Sciences and Food Security at Tel Aviv University, a position he held from 2018 until his untimely passing.

Professor Sessa’s research interests were deeply rooted in the study of molecular mechanisms governing plant immunity and susceptibility to bacterial pathogens. With an unwavering dedication to science, his laboratory adopted a multifaceted approach. On one hand, they employed molecular biology, functional genomics, and proteomics to unravel recognition events and signalling pathways in plants. On the other hand, they used genetic and biochemical strategies to dissect bacterial virulence factors. This duality in approach not only earned him reverence amongst his peers but also made significant strides in the development of disease control in agriculture.

Professor Sessa’s research was both prolific and impactful. At the time of his passing, he had been cited 5,285 times, with an h-index of 38 and an i10-index of 65. His work, especially in recent years, has proven to be instrumental in providing targets and biotechnological strategies against economically significant pathogens, thereby safeguarding the very sustenance of our communities.

As we bid adieu to a stalwart in the world of plant sciences, we reflect on a life devoted to knowledge, discovery, and service. Professor Guido Sessa’s legacy will continue to thrive through the seeds of curiosity he planted in countless students and through the invaluable contributions he made to science and agriculture.

Let us honor his memory by continuing the pursuit of knowledge and excellence he exemplified. Guido, you will be missed, but your light will continue to guide us.

Rest in peace.

On behalf of the AISSI family, Association of Italian Scholars and Scientists

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