This Ph.D. program in Morphogenesis and Tissue Engineering is part of the School of Doctorate in Biology and Molecular Medicine. The overall aim of the Ph.D. program is to provide cultural, analytical and methodological tools to perform high level-, basic- or traslational- or applied-, research in the biomedical, pharmaceutical and biotechnological fields.
For this purpose, the courses are aimed to teach the students not only notions (rapidly changing and evolving) but also: a) to acquire evaluation criteria to innovatively pinpoint unresolved issues in specific fields; b) to design experimental strategies which address these issues.
The educational aims of the Ph.D. program are developed through research guidelines regarding the study of the mechanisms regulating cell differentiation, tissue homeostasis, regeneration and the physiopathology of different tissues. In particular, the research interests are distributed in three main curricula:
Curriculum in Morphogenetic and Cytological Sciences:
- Progression and maintenance of the differentiated state, through interaction between muscle cells and factors regulating histogenesis, homeostasis and tissue regeneration, with particular reference to skeletal muscle;
- Embryogenesis and histogenesis. In particular, the mechanisms of induction and determination of mesodermal structures, as well as of the genesis and role of stem and myogenic precursor cells.
- Identification of molecular mechanisms of myeloid differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells, exploiting models of normal myeloid differentiation and of leukemogenesis;
- Tissue engineering to mimic neo-organogenesis to produce ex vivo living tissue and to study cell–cell interactions, stem cell–matrix interactions and the role of tissue niche on stem cells behaviour;
- Molecular mechanisms of cardiac remodeling, homeostasis a hypertrophy.
Curriculum in Cell Sciences and Technologies. The main areas of training for this curriculum are:
- Mechanisms controlling cell cycle and death, a primary interest being devoted to the study of molecular regulators of the intrinsic and extrinsic apoptosis pathways.
- Cell interactions and morphogenesis, with reference to the development of the gonads, the histogenesis of gonadal cell population and the morphogenesis of seminiferous tubules and ovarian follicles
- Biology of spermatogonial stem cell, with emphasis on the isolation and characterization of mammalian germline stem cells, prerequisite for their potential use in medical therapy of infertility and of testis germ cell tumors.
- Regulation of gene expression and cell differentiation, with reference to the mechanisms of male and female germline differentiation during gonads formation and paracrine signaling by somatic cells.
- Tissue homeostasis and malignant transformation: interplay between tissue homeostasis changes induced by inflammatory agents (cytokines and/or agents mimicking pathogen infections) and carcinogenesis or tumour progression in hyperplasic and carcinoma cells and in "in vivo" mouse models of orthotopic- and xenotransplants; cross talk between signal pathways activated by receptors of innate immunity and oncogenes in the onset of transformed phenotype; immunosuppressive mechanisms developed by tumour cells and strategies to restore anti-tumour immunosurveillance.
Curriculum in Cell and Tissue Biophysics. The educational focus of the Curriculum in BIOPHYSICS is the endorsement of scientific and professional skills in dealing with basic biophysical problems, paying special attention to the autonomous and appropriate appreciation of relevant issues. In particular, the realization of original research projects is encouraged and sustained in the following fields:
- mathematical modeling, multivariate statistics and biophysical chemistry;
- spectroscopical methods;
- human biology, molecular genetics and brain metabolism;
- dynamical simulations and modeling of biosystems at different dimensional scale.