The Activities Of Fondazione Umberto Veronesi
by Ivan De Stefano
Since its establishment, the ultimate goal of Fondazione Veronesi has been the promotion of scientific progress, as an asset for the well-being of individuals as well as the ethical, civil and social growth of the community. “Science must always be beneficial for human beings and work alongside them” – says its founder Umberto Veronesi – “We are therefore called to protect the central role of individuals and search for solutions and strategies to improve our lives, offering new hopes for the present and to our future generations.”
At the heart of the Foundation’s hard work is scientific research, free from barriers or constraints. We invest in talented young researchers from all over the world who search for new answers to the latest scientific challenges by means of innovative and high profile projects. These research projects focuses is on prevention and detection of cancer and modern diseases, in the pursuit of increasingly effective treatments using cutting-edge techniques for the benefit of the whole community.
With its unique background, Fondazione Umberto Veronesi has ventured well beyond the scientific laboratories and has chosen to promote the social and educational role of science. Professor Veronesi adds, “Scientific thinking has an ethical value and must contribute to the moral, human and civil growth of mankind and of Earth, participating in the debates on the protection of basic human rights and joining forces for the universal good, which refers to the common good and the domain of relationships among people.”
As a young, determined and dynamic entity, Fondazione Umberto Veronesi relies on a number of high-profile figures so as to broaden the goals, achievements and prospects of science. From Nobel Prize laureates to social, political, scientific and socio-economic personalities, from committees to official bodies and institutions, the partners of Fondazione Umberto Veronesi help us spread our message, which says that scientific progress is an expression of the constant improvement and evolution of knowledge, aimed at building constructive dialogue and communication to stifle non-scientific prejudices.
Fondazione Veronesi is an outstanding reality, thanks to its emphasis on a human-oriented science and its extraordinary founder. Its actions focus on strengthening international scientific cooperation, promoting innovation in technology and raising awareness on the benefits of research and science as future prerequisites in every human activity.
The 2016 GRANTS
RESEARCH IS KEY FOR PROGRESS: INVESTING IN THE FUTURE
Grants are allocated to young researchers working on ground-breaking projects in the areas of oncology, chronic and cardiovascular diseases, neuroscience, prevention and nutrigenomics.
THE NUMBERS OF RESEARCH: PROJECTS SPONSORED IN 2016
Milan, 27 April 2016 – 130 research grants assigned to post-doctoral researchers, 17 to PhD students at the European School of Molecular Medicine (SEMM), 16 clinical training and specialization scholarships, and 2 Together for Peace international cooperation projects. In 2016, Fondazione Umberto Veronesi will sponsor 165 Italian and foreign doctors and researchers. In addition, Fondazione Veronesi continues to support 6 multi-year research projects started in 2014.
“From oncology to bioethics, from neuroscience to cardiology, from nutrigenomics to prevention, the areas in which our researchers work and study reflect today’s reference framework for the international scientific community. Our outlook remains focused on the future, as we strive to find new solutions to the challenges posed by a society whose lifespan is constantly increasing. And we pursue our goal by resorting especially to the revolutions brought about by precision medicine based on DNA information,” says Professor Umberto Veronesi, founder of the Foundation.
Indeed, the recipients of Fondazione Umberto Veronesi grants work in relevant areas for biomedical research: 121 post-doctoral researchers, PhD students and post-graduate students are involved in oncology, with 35 of them working on breast cancer; 7 study cardiovascular and chronic diseases, 22 focus on neuroscience, 11 on nutrigenomics and prevention. Finally, 4 PhD students from the European School of Molecular Medicine study bioethics and its application to the treatment and management of cancer patients.
Young, innovators and, for the most part, female: 125 of our 165 grants recipients in 2016 are women. On average, our post-doctoral researchers are 34 years old, while our PhD students from the European School of Molecular Medicine are aged 26 to 34. Not only do the grants allocated by Fondazione Umberto Veronesi contribute to keeping Italian researchers in Italy, but they also attract foreign researchers. In 2016, 27 researchers (16% of the total) are foreigners who have chosen to carry out their work at an Italian research institute. Our researchers come from all over the world: Afghanistan, Argentina, Canada, France, Greece,
Iran, India, Ireland, Lithuania, Madagascar, Poland, Dominican Republic, Republic of Guinea, Russia, United States, Spain, Serbia and Montenegro, Ukraine and Venezuela.
THE LOCATIONS OF RESEARCH
Fondazione Umberto Veronesi aims to support advanced scientific research carried out by Italian and foreign researchers at the most prestigious institutes and universities across Italy. In 2016, our researchers will be based at 30 different cities from North to South: Ancona, Bari, Brescia, Bologna, Chieti, Candiolo (Turin province), Florence, Genoa, Lecce, Milan, Messina, Modena, Naples, Perugia, Padua, Palermo, Parma, Pisa, Pozzilli (Isernia province), Pietra Ligure (Savona province), Reggio Emilia, Rome, Rozzano (Milan province), Sesto San Giovanni (Milan), Salerno, Turin, Trento, Trieste, Urbino and Verona.
In addition, Fondazione Umberto Veronesi will support ten Italian researchers undertaking a six-month research period abroad, so as to foster the professional and cultural training of our talents and built transferable know-how. The list of the prestigious foreign institutes that will host our researchers in 2016 includes: the Institute for Research on Cancer and Aging of Nice and the Robert Debré Hospital of Paris in France; the University of California (UCLA) in Los Angeles, the Harvard Medical School of Boston and the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston in the United States; the University Hospital Basel in Switzerland; the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom; the Instituto de Neurociencias of Alicante in Spain; the Max Planck Institute in Germany.
THE NUMBERS OF RESEARCH FROM 2003 TO DATE
Since its establishment in 2003, Fondazione Umberto Veronesi has sponsored 997 researchers and more than 90 research projects.
OUR SELECTION PROCESS
The selection of post-doctoral researchers sponsored by Fondazione Umberto Veronesi is carried out through a public tender published online. All the applications are examined by a Scientific Evaluation Committee, which prepares a shortlist according to the type of project submitted and the professional and scientific curriculum of the candidate, focusing on the number and quality of published papers. The minimum requisite is to have already had at least two works (including one as main author) published on peer-reviewed international scientific journals.
In particular the research projects are evaluated according to:
their intrinsic quality;
the soundness and feasibility of the experimental planning;
their translational power, that is, the possibility to quickly transfer the results from the laboratory to the patients.
In 2016, for the 2016 grants were received 595 applications.
FONDAZIONE VERONESI RESEARCH BURSARIES STUDY AREAS
Tumours are a set of very complex diseases characterised by irregular cell proliferation. This is caused by DNA mutation making cancer cells resistant to control. Over time, cells may fall off the control of our immunity system and migrate to other tissues, developing metastasis and drugs resistance. To understand the molecular mechanisms of cancer is fundamental to develop new, more effective therapies.
In 2016, 91 post-doctoral grants will be funded in addition to PhDs at the SEMM and clinical training and specialization scholarships, as well as 5 research projects:
The post-doctoral grants are divided as follows:
12 general oncology
21 breast cancer 3 ovarian cancer
16 leukaemia and blood cancers 5 lung cancer
4 bowel cancer
1 liver cancer
2 pancreatic cancer
7 nervous system cancers
5 melanomas and skin cancers 7 prostate cancer
1 thyroid cancer
3 bladder cancer
3 bone and soft tissue cancers
1 testicle cancer
CARDIOVASCULAR AND CHRONIC DISEASES
Cardiovascular diseases affect the heart and blood vessels. The main causes include atherosclerosis, which is the narrowing of blood vessels due to occlusions caused by cholesterol accrual, inflammation and wall thickening. They may result in infarction, stroke and vascular symptoms. Cardiovascular diseases also include congenital heart defects, rheumatic and chronic diseases, heart failure and insufficiency. They are very widespread in Western countries, mostly due to bad lifestyle choices and lack of prevention.
7 post-doctoral grants will be financed in this area.
Neuroscience is still a largely unexplored discipline, requiring increasingly multi-disciplinary methods and the development of advanced technologies. Research focuses on the identification of early diagnosis tools, reliable markers and molecular studies to identify effective prevention strategies and develop even more targeted treatments. In addition, in recent years, research has studied the biological mechanisms underlying psychiatric and brain development disorders, such as autistic spectrum disorders.
21 post-doctoral grants will be financed in this area. The studied diseases include: Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autistic spectrum disorders, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and bulbar spinal atrophy.
NUTRIGENOMICS AND DISEASE PREVENTION
Nutrigenomics studies the links between the genome and food, that is, how the molecules introduced with food affect our genes and our health. Nutrigenomics goes hand in hand with prevention, especially of chronic cardiovascular diseases, cerebrovascular diseases and cancer, which cause the vast majority of deaths in the world. A healthy lifestyle is our first weapon to fight most diseases.
11 post-doctoral grants and 1 research project will be financed in this area.
Fondazione Umberto Veronesi Press Office
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