The Ph.D. Program in Translational and Molecular Medicine (Dimet) is an inter-departmental project organized by the Doctorate School of Milano-Bicocca University that gathers all the PhD programs.

Dimet represents a comprehensive answer to a cultural challenge focused on the recent advances and success of the bio-medical research area and on the resulting modern technological applications. The post-genomic era is leading to a revolution in the understanding of human diseases and in the designing of the related therapies. However, the possibility of elucidating cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate complex systems needs a deeply interaction between basic and applied research. This requires the formation of “translational” professional profiles with a robust background in basic research, but also equipped to bridge the gap between bench and clinical investigation. Such skills are crucial in orienting basic research to efficiently meet current diagnostic and therapeutic needs. Dimet also addresses the increasing demand for new models of European academic training able to cope with the current trend of teaching and research internationalization. The Dimet project is in line with the indications of the EU Horizon 2020 Program, which provides new important instruments in the field of Bio-Medicine research.

Educational objectives

The aim of this PhD program is to accelerate the translation of basic and applied research discoveries as close as possible to the clinical settings. The proposed translational research program will train, at the European level, novel hybrid researchers that will be able to rapidly translate scientific advances to the patient’s advantage. Building such international translational highways requires innovative educational models and career paths, with the aim of providing cross-disciplinary training for PhDs and MDs with potential bench-to-bedside round trips.

Research areas

The DIMET Faculty will be involved in the strictly interconnected three broad areas and four more specialized subareas:

Research topics in the areas of:

CELLULAR and MOLECULAR MECHANISMS. Understanding the cellular and molecular mechanism(s) is of pivotal importance to study specific diseases and for the development of new tools for both an efficient diagnosis and possible therapy. This area links the Faculty with primary interests in the investigation of basic mechanisms underlying the diseases addressed by the PhD program.

CLINICAL and REGENERATIVE MEDICINE. Clinical and Regenerative medicine refers to development and implementation of advanced therapeutic approaches that may involve the support of expertise in gene/cell therapy, tissue engineering, pharmacology and pharmacogenomics, development of novel molecular target therapy. In this area the outcomes of basic research are directly addressed to improve the patient care. Faculty contributing to this area includes clinicians and basic scientists.

TECHNOLOGICAL PLATFORMS, NANOMEDICINE and DIAGNOSIS. The development of new tools for diagnosis, risk stratification and drug delivery is of pivotal importance and this track offers different levels of research:

- Identification of biochemical, molecular, and proteomic markers, and related genes, linked to onset and progression of diseases, with a particular focus on cancer and rare diseases.

- Study of biomedical application of nanoparticles (diagnostic imaging, targeted drug delivery). Evaluation of biophysical, biological and molecular aspects of nanoparticles interaction with cells/tissues, their transport in biological compartments and biological fate.

- Study of the applications of radioactive substances in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Specific PET probes can be developed to allow visualization, characterization, and quantification of biologic processes at the cellular and subcellular levels. These techniques can be used to understand the mechanisms involved in the expansion of cell populations in living organisms.

Research topics in the specialized areas:

Oncology and Hematology disorders. Cancer diseases in the next years are expected to become the first cause of death. This makes a high pressure on the society and there is a tremendous amount of research being conducted on all frontiers of oncology, ranging from experimental cellular and molecular biology to advanced biological therapies, passing through state of the art laboratory and imaging diagnostic procedures, and prevention and epidemiology. The program will involve different interests of Faculty, concerning cell transformation and growth, diagnosis and therapy of solid and hematological tumors

Neurodegenerative and muscular disorders. Neurodegenerative and muscular diseases tracks offer different levels of research in neuroscience and muscular disorders, (from molecular and cellular to the system level), while specializing in the chosen field of research. The Faculties with a primary interest in neurobiological/muscular processes related to human disease are drawn from all basic science disciplines and encompass a wide range of research interests. Neuromuscular disease is a very broad term that encompasses many diseases and ailments that impair the functioning of the muscles, either directly, being pathologies of the muscle, or indirectly, being pathologies of nerves or neuromuscular junctions.

Cardiovascular and Pulmonary disorders. The Program in CVP diseases provides the trainee with skills in cardiovascular research. The goal of the cardiovascular and pulmonary concentration is to educate new generation of basic and clinician-investigators to have a broad understanding of cardiovascular and pulmonary medicine and biology and to be able to apply cutting edge technology to clinically relevant questions. The Faculty research interests focus in understanding the heart and the lungs as an integrated system, and to develop a multidisciplinary approach to design more effective diagnostic tools and more selective treatments.

Immunological and Infective disorders. Immunology is influencing virtually any aspect of modern medicine. In the thematic area of Immunopathology and infection diseases emphasis is given to the development of productive interdisciplinary research projects in cellular and clinical immunology through the application of molecular and cell-based approaches. Faculty research interests include both bench-to-bedside studies as well as basic science research. Researchers in this area focus on various aspects of immunology and infection, including mechanisms of infection processes, host-pathogen interactions, cellular and organismal immune systems, immune surveillance, innate immunity, viral entry and replication, microbial pathogenesis, antibiotic resistance, bacterial toxins, vaccine development and microbial diagnostics.

Research experience abroad.
Many DIMET students spend a period abroad, mainly during the second and third year, to perform their research

Future carreer

The possibilities of employment are those in which are required interactions between basic and applied researches, and in which are needed “translational” professional profiles with a robust background in basic research but also with the capacity of rapidly transferring new knowledge from basic sciences to bio-medicine, in order to generate new advanced diagnostic and therapeutic applications. Therefore, research in academia or in biotechnology enterprises, applied research in the Health System, can be opportunities of employment

Organizing Secretariat: Elisabetta Paccagnini