- 1990 The Italian Union for the Fight against Muscular Dystrophy calls on Susanna Agnelli to bring the Telethon initiative to Italy. The Promotional Committee is born. The first Italian Television Marathon is then broadcast by RAI1 on 7th and 8th December.
- 1991 Telethon sends out its first call for grant applicants, for funding research into various types of muscular dystrophy.
- 1992 The Telethon Committee extends its area of funding to cover research into all genetic disorders.
- 1994 Two organisations are founded; Tigem, the Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine , which studies the genetic defects that cause some hereditary disorders; and Tecnothon, a laboratory for the creation of assistance equipment for disabled people.
- 1995 Together with the San Raffaele Foundation, Telethon creates the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy. Based in Milan it studies gene therapy for the treatment of genetic disorders.
- 1999 The Dulbecco Telethon Institute (DTI) is created. A virtual institute to provide qualified researchers with the possibility of pursuing independent careers within Italian scientific institutes.
- 2001 Telethon is awarded the "Oscar for Budget and Communication" of Non-Profit Organisations, for the completeness, clarity, and accuracy of its accounts reports and organisational effectiveness.
- 2002 For the first time in the world, thanks to gene therapy operations carried out at the HSR-TIGET, two children affected by ADA-SCID, a grave hereditary immune deficiency disorder, are definitively cured.
- 2005 The Food and Drug Administration, the American governmental body that authorises treatments, recognises the Ada-Scid clinical protocols adopted by the HSR-TIGET as the most valid and requires that the USA also adopts these practices
- 2006 With the guidance of its Scientific Committee, the Telethon Foundation creates its first research strategy plan, to map the path of biomedical research until 2010.
- 2007 Thanks to research funded by Telethon, a number of dogs are cured of a form of Duchenne's muscular dystrophy with transplants of adult stem cells called angioblasts.
- 2008 The first gene therapy operation in the world to treat a hereditary eye disorder, Leber's congenital amaurosis. Research is progressing towards the treatment of other genetic eye disorders.
- 2009 Discovery of the control systems governing the elimination of cellular waste. This system could be exploited to clean up the toxic molecules responsible for serious disorders such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
- 2009 Susanna Agnelli, president and founder of Telethon passes away. The position of president is taken over by Luca di Montezemolo, who had already been on the Board of Directors since 2008.
- 2010 Thanks to an important agreement with a multinational pharmaceutical company, the gene therapy practised with success on subjects with ADA-SCID, is applied to another six rare genetic disorders.
- 2010 In April, Telethon obtained authorization to launch experimentation on the new gene therapy for metachromatic leukodystrophy and the Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome.
- 2011 Beginning of the first study to validate the safety of adult stem cell transplant in patients affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
- 2012 Nobel Prize winner Renato Dulbecco passes away. Dulbecco was honorary chairman of Telethon’s Medical-Scientific Committee, creator of the career project, and a dear friend of the Foundation.
- 2012 From May to June, the second Walk of Life. Thousands of participants, hundreds of volunteers, 8 participating cities, and 3 research expositions, for one important goal: curing genetic diseases.
The history of Telethon began in the United States of America when Jerry Lewis invented a non-stop television programme for collecting donations in aid of muscular dystrophy. A successful formula that was then also adopted from 1987 onwards in Europe by the French Association against Myopathies (Afm).
Since 1990, thanks to the encounter between Susanna Agnelli and the Italian Union for the Fight Against Muscular Dystrophy (Uildm), the tele-marathon came to Italy too, on the RAI network. It soon became a fixed event, ready to repeat and surpass itself every year.
With the funds raised Telethon scientists have achieved important scientific results and international recognition: steps along a path that leads to curing genetic diseases.
Since 2009, Telethon's President is Luca di Montezemolo.