Following a distinguished career in Italian physics, Maiani became CERN Director-General in January 1999.
Maiani gained his first qualifications in Rome and subsequently worked at the universities of Florence and Harvard. He was made professor of theoretical physics at the university of Rome, "La Sapienza" in 1984, and from January 1993 to December 1998 he was president of the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN).
He spent two periods of one year as a visiting professor in the CERN Theory Division and has been a member of the Scientific Policy Committee and the Large Hadron Collider Committee. From 1993 to 1996 he was Italy's delegate at the CERN council before taking over the presidency. Maiani was president of the CERN council from January 1997 to December 1998.
Luciano Maiani is author or co-author of over 100 scientific publications on the theory of elementary particles and author of several lecture notes and rapporteur talks. His most important result is the prediction of charmed particles (with S. Glashow and J. Iliopoulos, 1970). The proposal, known as the Glashow-Ilipoulos-Maiani (GIM) mechanism, has been critical to the formulation of the unified theory of the electroweak interactions. Charmed particles were discovered in 1976 with properties very close to those anticipated in the original GIM paper.
Maiani succeeded Christopher Llewellyn Smith as Director-General of CERN in January 1999.