Institute of molecular bioimaging and physiology (IBFM)

Research activities

Four main research groups are recognized, sharing an interdisciplinary and translational research imaging core
Exercise Physiology. The group of Exercise Physiology in Segrate is focused on the study of skeletal muscle structure/function and homeostatic responses, in relation to physical activity. A multiparametric perspective (involving anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, biochemistry, biosignals and bioimaging) is adopted. The following fields are investigated in health and disease (metabolic, cardiovascular, neurologic) and/or in several ambient conditions (high altitude, microgravity, diving, etc.): a) bioenergetics and biomechanics of human movement/locomotion; b) cardiorespiratory response to exercise; c) skeletal muscle oxygenation; d) direct and indirect quantification of oxydative stress damage; e) image and signal analysis for quantitative reconstruction of skeletal muscles and cardiocirculatory structures, along with brain functioning. The activities of the group impact in the fields of disease prevention/treatment, as well as ICT integration for personalised clinical rehabilitation and ageing issues.

Molecular Imaging. This group is set in Segrate and involves the UOS in Genova. It combines ex vivo and in vivo Molecular Imaging methods (omics, pre-clinical, clinical) with advanced processing algorithms, for the comprehension of multi-factorial pathologies and the extraction of new biomarkers, in neurology, cardiology, oncology. Methodology includes advanced biostatistical and bioinformatics techniques, integrating multi-dimensional signal and imaging data in a systemic approach. The group relies on strong formal collaborations with excellent research centers (e.g. ESRF, Grenoble) and clinical structures (San Raffaele Institute, other IRCCS, University Hospitals), providing access to relevant diagnostic/therapeutic instrumentation (e.g. PET/CT, MRI, radiotherapy) and is formally partner of pan-European Research Infrastructures ESFRI: SysBioNet, Euro-BioImaging.

Neuroimaging: The Neuroimaging group of Germaneto (CZ) is recognized as one of foremost center for the study of movement disorders (Parkinson's disease, Essential Tremor). The research portfolio encompasses also Multiple Sclerosis, Epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease, including basic research in normal cognition involving studies elucidating various components of brain functions in normal volunteers. A guiding hypothesis posits that the study of the neural bases of neurological disorders converges with the mapping of normal cognitive functions to provide novel insight. Research focuses heavily on the development of advanced technological methods. This research unit is equipped with 3T MRI scanner and has access to advanced neuroimaging systems: NIRS and PET/MRI. Major contributions include key studies on biomarkers in Parkinson's disease, neuroimaging characterization of sub-clinical phenotypes of motor disorders, and development of computer-aided diagnosis through segmentation and machine learning methods.

Radiation Therapies and Biological effects. This is a young group, set in Cefalù, focusing research on the study of biological effects of therapies by Ionizing Radiation (radiotherapy) and high/low intensity Focused Ultrasounds (HIFU/LOFU). One of the main target is to study molecular mechanisms that regulate proliferation and survival of tumor cells in order to drive the development of novel therapeutic approaches. This goal is pursued taking advantage from the multidisciplinary skills in the group: i) Molecular Biology, adopting a proteogenomic approach, to deeply evaluate the main pathways involved in the cell response to these stress stimuli; ii) Medical Physics, to study and optimize the physical characteristics of the radiation by both experimental techniques and computer simulations; iii) Engineering, to develop Image processing methods for the definition of the target volume to be treated, and for the follow-up and monitoring of the therapy response.