Throughout his long productive scientific career, Erminio Costa demonstrated several scholarly traits that illustrate a pattern for paths of successful achievement that should guide young scientists. Not only did he seek excellent training, he got and gave good mentoring. That guidance allowed him to ask important questions and to develop the methods necessary to obtain definitive answers by pursuing those questions in depth. Without question, he blazed trails in neuropharmacology that have been an inspiration to many others and me. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled 'Trends in neuropharmacology: in memory of Erminio Costa'.