The aim of this PhD program is to accelerate the translation of discoveries into a mode of delivery that will benefit human health. 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.
In the last decade, spectacular progress in basic technology has revolutionized our knowledge of molecular details of fundamental biological processes. This has been promoted by human genome and transcriptome sequencing, the characterization of the human proteomic map, the development of system biology, a deeper knowledge of stem cells, and the advancements in nanomedicine. Technology, together with new knowledge, now allows to develop in vivo (genetically modified mice) and in vitro (iPSC reprogrammed cells) models of human disease, to transfer genes for therapeutic purposes, to deliver anticancer or other therapeutic molecules to defined targets, to affect cell subsets involved in immune reactions. In an additional and important development, the ability to relate, by powerful statistical methods, individual genetic variation to disease susceptibility, has introduced a new perspective for diagnosis and possibly therapy of complex common diseases (environmentally and/or genetically determined), leading to the proposal of more and more “personalized” therapeutic treatments. In this context a major concern and potential bottleneck is the availability of well trained staff who understand the scientific data generated and are capable of translating this knowledge to successfully incorporate research-based evidence into clinical practice.
The structure and programs of the PhD Course in Translational and Molecular Medicine (DIMET) takes into account the multidisciplinary nature of modern Biology and Medicine, and the need to familiarize biologists with medical problems and physicians with basic biology. Thus, the research activity at DIMET may start either from medical problems which may be dealt with by new biological developments, or from basic studies and discoveries which may, in principle, be applied to medicine. The approximately equal participation of clinicians and basic investigators (including experts in chemistry, statistics, etc), and the organization of common seminars and teaching activities for all of the students (and teaching faculty) ensures that fruitful interactions between the two components will develop.
Hence, as indicated in the cartoon summarizing DIMET activities, research and teaching programs will develop from strong interactions between a fundamental broad area of “Cellular and Molecular Mechanisms” providing expertise in many areas of biological investigation, and more specialized areas, such as “Neuroscience and Neuromuscular Disorders", “Oncology and Haematology Disorders”, “ Immunological and Infective Disorders” and “Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Disorders”. At a higher level, the translation of knowledge will be implemented into therapeutical and diagnostic programs, within other broad areas called “Clinical and Regenerative Medicine” and “Technological Platforms, Nanomedicine and Diagnosis”. Therefore, the proposed PhD program will foster advanced genomics, proteomics, cellular and instrumental biotechnology and their applications to experimental medicine, contributing to forward its translational medicine applications to human diseases.