Our community of researchers is saddened by the sudden death of Ferdinando Rossi. He passed away on January 24th, 2014. Ferdinando Rossi was born in Italy in 1960. From 1980 to 1983, he was trained at the Institute of Anatomy of the University of Turin. As an undergraduate student, he worked on plasticity of the neuromuscular junction using electron microscopy. He was particularly interested by cerebellar neurophysiology, synaptic plasticity, and the mechanisms of oculomotor control. He graduated in 1985 and obtained his Ph.D. in 1990 on the topic of cerebellar development and plasticity (supervisor, Professor Piergiorgio Strata). During his Ph.D., he visited the Laboratoire de Physiologie Nerveuse (CNRS, Gif sur Yvette, France) and the Netherlands Ophthalmic Research Institute (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). He focused his works on axonal tracing and structural plasticity of climbing fiber synapses. In 1990, he obtained an ESF–short-term fellowship to investigate in depth the effects of neural transplantation (INSERM U106, Hopital de la Salpetrière, Paris, France). He worked closely with his mentor Dr Constantino Sotelo (Research Director at INSERM), especially on neuronal precursors and embryonic grafts. He became assistant professor at the University of Turin from 1990 to 1998. He took a sabbatical leave in 1993–1994 to visit the INSERM U106 and investigate further cerebellar development and neurogenesis, a field in which he made milestone contributions [19]. He became associate professor of physiology in 1998. One year later, he was full professor of neuroscience. He was fully dedicated to his numerous students. He was always keen on promoting and discussing novel research avenues with the members of his team.

He was a strong contributor and promoter of the Society of Research on the Cerebellum (SRC) for whom he served successively as president (Fig. 1) and treasurer. He was members of the editorial board of The Cerebellum, Neuroscience, Neurobiology of Disease and became associate editor of the European Journal of Neuroscience in 2008. He was a member of the Scientific Board of the International Institute for Research in Paraplegia in Zurich (Switzerland). He became Dean of the University of Psychology of Turin and Director of The Neuroscience Institute of Turin (NIT). He was also a very active member of the Scientific Board of the Fondazione Cavalieri–Ottolenghi (Turin). During his brilliant career, he obtained the Annual Price of the Fondation Simone et Cino del Duca, Paris (France) in 1993 and the Annual Price of the Italian Physiological Society in 1994.

Fig. 1
figure 1

Picture of Ferdinando Rossi (1960–2014) during the inaugural symposium of SRC in 2008 in Geneva (Switzerland). Upper panel Ferdinando Rossi (left) stands as chairman, near Jérôme Honnorat (middle) and Tim Ebner (right). Lower panel Ferdinando Rossi during his oral presentation

We had numerous opportunities to share a good time with Ferdinando Rossi during our annual symposium. The cerebellum community will remind him as a wise, open-minded, and tireless researcher. We will miss him. Ferdinando Rossi leaves his wife and two children. Goodbye Ferdinando.