Thematics areas

THEMATIC AREAS

The Dimet Faculty will be involved in the strictly interconnected three broad areas and four more specialized subareas with the following research topics:

Research topics in the 3 broad areas

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.

Current research topics:
dissection of cellular and molecular process networks leading to dysfunction of different organelles, cell types, and organs including: mitochondria (Zeviani); nuclear organization during cellular differentiation and diseases (Bodega, Lanzuolo); physiological and pathological aging (Lanzuolo); haemopoietic cells (Biondi/Cazzaniga), erythropoietic differentiation, endothelial cells (Brunelli), hemoglobin switching (Ronchi), iron metabolism (Piperno, Barisani); neurons, synapses, glia (Barabino, Masserini, Nicolis, Parenti); skeletal muscle (Brunelli, Meneveri, Lanzuolo); cardiac muscle (Zaza); liver (Strazzabosco); kidney (Perego, Bianchi); lung (Rivolta); manipulation of trasnposons and suicide genes (Biagi)

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.

Current research topics:
state of the art in stem cell technology (Biondi/Serafini, Brunelli, Nicolis, Perego, Bianchi, Lanzuolo); gene therapies (Biondi); chimeric antigen receptor in targeted therapy of leukemia (Biagi); new experimental approaches for novel molecular target therapy (Gambacorti-Passerini, Lavitrano); Preclinical modeling of cell-therapy in cancer (Biondi/D’Amico); Preclinical modelling of brain cancer immunotherapy (Finocchiaro-Pellegatta); Development of clinical-grade cellular therapies (Introna); Atypical forms of iron overload and hyperferritinemia. (Piperno)

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.

Current research topics:
Development of innovative molecular and imaging tools for diagnosis (Cattoretti, Piperno, Pitto, Raimondo, Brambilla); Proteomic, metabolomic, Imaging-mass spectrometry approaches for diagnosis/prognosis/targeted therapy in human diseases (Magni); nanoparticles-cell/tissue interaction for imaging and drug delivery (Masserini, Rivolta, Cazzaniga, Mantegazza); Design and synthesis of nanoparticles for therapy and diagnosis of human diseases (Masserini, Re, Mantegazza); Development of new radiopharmaceuticals for PET (Todde, Messa).

Research topics in the four more 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.

Current research topics:
Cancer metabolism and identification of metabolic therapeutic targets of renal cancer (Perego, Bianchi); signaling in liver cancerogenesis (Strazzabosco); somatic lesions in cancer, cellular transformation, diagnosis and therapy (Piazza); Signalling and Epigenetics in Cancer Stem Cells (Zippo); monoclonal and bispecific therapeutic antibodies in oncohematology (Golay); transcriptional control of erythropoietic cell differentiation and hemoglobin switching (Ronchi); Molecular mechanisms of pancreatic cancerogenesis (Parenti).

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.

Current research topics:
neurotransmission and arousal in the cerebral cortex, epilepsy (Becchetti); chronic processes of axonal degeneration; mitochondrial disorders and Neurodegeneration with Brain Iron Accumulation syndromes (Tiranti); growth hormone secretagogues in epilepsy and neurodegenerative disorders (Torsello); nanoparticles for therapy of Alzheimer Disease (Masserini, Re, Mantegazza); DNA-protein interactions, Abeta amyloid aggregation (Mantegazza); DNA and RNA repetitive elements and muscular dystrophies pathogenesis; Polycomb complex and myogenic differentiation; pathogenesis of Facioscapulohumeral Dystrophy (Bodega); Epigenetic mechanisms involved in Emery Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy (Lanzuolo)

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.

Current research topics:
Repolarization instability and calcium-handling abnormalities; iPS-derived cardiomyocytes, channel mutations and arhythmogenic mechanisms; “late Na+ current” and cell damage (Zaza); Isolation and characterization of stem cells from the human heart and the translation into clinical trial of heart tissue regeneration; cell modelling of genetic cardiovascular diseases (Pompilio). Contribution of epigenetic modifications to stemness and differentation toward endothelial cells; Remodelling of cardiovascular tissue following injuries (Rivolta); vascular biology/atherosclerosis and molecular aspects of plaque (Lavitrano, Giovannoni); Physiology and pathophysiology of the oxygen transport pathway, critical care.

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.

Current research topics:
Host-pathogen interactions with specific interest in the role of dendritic cells (Granucci, Zanoni); Mechanism(s) of action and development of monoclonal antibodies in therapy (Golay); Chimeric T-cell receptor for the treatment of cancer patients (Biondi/Biagi); Chimeric T cell receptors for treatment of glioblastoma (Pellegatta-Finocchiaro); IL-10 and IL-17 producing T-cell subsets in autoimmunity and cancer (Geginat); Noncoding RNAs in viral infection. Phophoinositide kinases and alteration of phophoinositide metabolism in chronic viral infections and cancer (De Francesco); Innate immunity in muscle regeneration and fibrotic disorders (Brunelli); Innate immune signaling pathways in inflammatory disease development and progression (Zanoni); xenotransplantation (Lavitrano).