The main objective of the PhD Program "Experimental and clinical hepato-gastroenterology" is to provide the basis to train researchers capable of performing, independently, experimental and clinical researches in the hepato-gastroenterological field.
This objective will be obtained by offering PhD students theoretical, experimental and clinical training courses. These courses allow to learn the most updated laboratory methods and the application of the experimental methodologies in research projects. The main aim is solving etiopathogenetic, diagnostic and therapeutic problems in hepato-gastroenterology.

The PhD course offers an interdisciplinary project-oriented postgraduate education for medical students as well as for students from life sciences.
While working on a 3-year research project, students learn how to carry out an independent scientific work and also learn further skills or abilities in research and teaching.

They acquire basics and methods in Medicine and Biology and their application on current research projects in the morphological/ultrastructural, molecular and clinical aspects of the digestive system in human and experimental models. The project clinical oriented on digestive illness, tumors and transplants will be developed in Experimental and clinical hepatology curriculum, while the project surgical oriented will be developed in Surgical pathophysiology and gastroenterology curriculum.

The scientific research projects are carried out in one of the Departments associated to the PhD Program allowing the integration between basic and clinical sciences. The ongoing interaction between students and academic advisory board in which are included experts in the anatomy, biology and clinical and surgical gastroenterology sciences, provides the scientific validity of the projects. The solid interaction between Clinical Departments and Basic Science Laboratories gives a specific clinical characterization to the study projects.

Numerous co-operations with outstanding scientists and institutes guarantee the scientific excellence of the program. Short-term stages in other Italian or international institutions within the scope of co-operations and projects are highly desired. The University Institutions involved in the fellowship program are: Liver Unit, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA; Texas A&M University, Temple, Texas, USA; Indiana Center for Liver Research, Indiana University, Indiana, USA; Unité “T. Starzl” de Transplantation abdominale, Université Catholique de Leuven, Belgio; Liver Unit, Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Spain; Western University of Birmingham, UK; General Hospital, Edinburgh University, UK; North Carolina University, UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC, USA. Colleagues from these or other qualified research/clinical/surgical centers will act as advisors external consultants.

The PhD Program is mainly aimed to the acquisition of an interdisciplinary research approach. During the 3-year period of the PhD Program students will use advanced experimental methodologies of morphology, molecular and cellular biology in an attempt to resolve clinical and surgical hepato-gastroenterological issues.

Main Program Learning Objectives
- Up-to-date knowledge in the cellular and molecular basis of development and progression of hepatic, pancreatic, and gastrointestinal tract diseases. Interest is mainly focused on the mechanisms determining cellular damage (necrosis and apoptosis), tissue repair (regeneration and cellular proliferation, fibrosis), and microvascular features.
- Identification and use of bio-molecular, histo-morphological, histo-chemical, immune-histochemical and ultrastructural tools to analyze key aspects of the gastrointestinal tract, hepatic damages and the pathophysiology of the splanchnic microvascular circle.
- Planning and developing study projects aimed to identifying the mechanisms regulating the gastrointestinal tract, hepato-pancreatic, biliary and endothelial cells death and proliferation in order to evaluate therapeutic strategies in the treatment of digestive system chronic diseases.
- Planning and developing study projects aimed to identifying histological, immune- histochemical and molecular markers in neoplastic and non-neoplastic gastrointestinal tract, liver and pancreas, diseases useful in predicting disease progression and/or response to therapy.
- Planning and developing study projects aimed to preparing both differentiated and undifferentiated liver cultured cells suitable in human and in experimental models transplantation.
- Planning and developing study projects aimed to elaborating the knowledge of pathophysiology illness of the digestive system with special consideration to digestive neoplasia, following surgical procedures and/or after organ transplants.
- Planning and developing study projects aimed to the knowledge of molecular genetics, immune and neuroendocrine mechanisms of endocrine diseases in order to evaluate new therapeutic strategies and to develop innovative surgical methods (e.g. minimally invasive surgery, radio-immuno-guided surgery, etc.).


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