Research Divisions and Centers
Research at San Raffaele Scientific Intitute (SRSI) is organized in six Research Divisions and two Research Centers that represent existing areas of expertise and excellence, as well as new strategic areas of research. Divisions were established in 2009 and their activities were implemented in the following years. During 2009 and 2010 the Directors of Research Divisions and Centers, in agreement with the Scientific Directorate, prepared a five-year Strategic Plan in which the vision and the mission, the goals with related implementation and the investments plan for each Division and Center were clearly defined. This Strategic Plan was presented to the external Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) in July 2010. An update of the Strategic Plan was discussed with the SAB in July 2011.
San Raffaele Scientific Institute hosts four major Research Institutes based on specific agreements and funding from external entities.
The San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy (TIGET), which is a joint venture with the Telethon Foundation, is pioneering cell and gene therapy strategies in genetic diseases. The therapeutic success obtained at TIGET with the clinical protocol developed for gene therapy of a severe form of congenital immunodeficiency (ADA-SCID) is to date the most convincing demonstration of the effectiveness and safety of gene therapy conducted with hematopoietic stem cells.
The Institute for Experimental Neurology (INSPE), which is based on an agreement with Merck-Serono, is totally dedicated to translational research in neuroscience. INSPE research focusses mainly on multiple sclerosis, stroke, central and peripheral nervous system traumas, neuromuscular diseases and neurodegenerative disorders, with the aim of understanding molecular mechanisms of pathologies and of identifying new therapeutic targets.
The Diabetes Research Institute (DRI), which is part of the DRI Federation, has as main objective the prevention and cure of Type I Diabetes (T1D). In order to reach this objective, two main research programs are underway: understanding the pathogenetic mechanisms of autoimmunity induction and progression to identify strategies to stop T1D; development of innovative systems for tolerance induction, for immunosuppression reduction and for islet regeneration to prolong survival of transplanted beta cells.
Research Programs are interdivisional and interdepartmental strategic projects that were created with the intent of fostering synergy between basic and clinical research in order to achieve a defined scientific goal. At present seven Research Programs are active.
The San Raffaele Scientific Institute hosts eight Facilities: service units that provide support to the scientific activity of the whole Institute. Today biomedical research must rely on the most advanced technologies that require highly trained individuals, specialized equipments, and financial investments.
The Protein Microsequencing Facility (PROMIFA) provides different analytical services aimed at structurally characterizing peptides and proteins using analytical HPLC systems, 2D gel electrophoresis apparatus and mass spectrometers, and it offers the possibility to identify each individual component within complex protein mixtures derived from biological samples, including serum, plasma, urine, whole cells and cellular secretion products.
The Flow Cytometry Resource and Analytical Cytology Technical Applications Laboratory (FRACTAL) offers to the scientific community both state-of-the-art instrumentation and analysis techniques to the scientific community and assisted cell sorting services for characterizing, separating and purifying populations of particles as diverse as beads, bacteria, micro-particles, cells and chromosomes.
The Laboratory Animal Facilities of SRSI occupy about 2650 sqm of dedicated area, hosted in two different buildings, where research programs based on preclinical models can be implemented. In both units, housed laboratory animals (mice/rats) are maintained, cared, and treated in accordance with the DL.vo 116/92 by the Italian Ministry of Health and the international guidelines. In 2011 a Biosafety P3 Area of approximately 180 sqm was established, where experimental infections with levels 2 and 3 pathogens and investigations with intravital microscopy can be performed in preclinical models of diseases.
The San Raffaele Core Facility for Conditional Mutagenesis (CFCM) performs pronuclear injections and lentiviral infections to generate transgenic mice, offers embryonic stem cell electroporation, the screening of recombinant clones and their injection into blastocysts to generate knock-out mice. Moreover, CFCM carries out rederivation of mice and embryo cryopreservation to store precious murine lines.
The Mouse HistoPathology Unit (MHIP) provides conventional morphological analysis and immunophenotyping of murine models of diseases, analyses the effects of different therapeutic approaches in specific mouse models, and investigates the efficacy of gene therapy and the safety of the use of viral vectors in preclinical models of diseases.
The Center of Excellence of High Field Magnetic Resonance (CERMAC) is a University Center (Vita-Salute San Raffaele University) equipped with a High Field Magnet (3Tesla) dedicated to research in the field of neuroscience, and in particular to the development and validation of advanced functional MR techniques.
The Advanced Light and Electron Microscopy BioImaging Center (ALEMBIC) provides sophisticated imaging techniques and innovation, offering both Light and Electron Microscopy instrumentation and training to scientists.
A new Facility has been added in 2011: the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University Center for Statistics in the Biomedical Sciences (CUSSB). This University Center develops activities that are fully integrated with the preclinical and clinical research activities of SRSI. The Center supports and delivers service to the scientists in the area of statistics.