From Pittsburgh to Rome: New Partnership Brings Stem Cell Therapy to UPMC Salvator Mundi

By: Simona Abbro

Patients at UPMC Salvator Mundi International Hospital in Italy will soon have increased access to innovative methods of tissue regeneration that could improve healing and outcomes with reconstructive or aesthetic plastic surgery.

Dr. J. Peter Rubin, chair of the UPMC Department of Plastic Surgery, and Dr. Albert Donnenberg, director of the UPMC and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Hematopoietic Stem Cell Laboratories, are collaborating with colleagues at UPMC Salvator Mundi in Rome to develop a dedicated clinical program focused on adipose-derived regenerative therapies. The therapies are used for breast reconstruction, as well as treating radiation fibrosis from cancer therapy, degenerative joint disease, tendon injuries and burn wounds, among other conditions.

From Pittsburgh to Rome: New Partnership Brings Stem Cell Therapy to UPMC Salvator Mundi“Adipose tissue, or fat, is taken from the patient’s abdominal area by minimally invasive methods, and then processed in different ways to take advantage of the regenerative effects and the ability to restore volume in the soft tissues,” said Rubin, who is also co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Adipose Stem Cell Center. “We have been researching the biology of adipose tissue and adipose stem cells for regenerative therapies at Pitt and UPMC since 2002, and we are excited to share our knowledge and clinical practices with our colleagues in Italy.”

UPMC Salvator Mundi’s team of physicians will be establishing a center of excellence in regenerative surgery. Together with Rubin and Donnenberg, they will work to achieve the highest standards for adipose cell therapy in Italy, including future certification from an international accrediting body—similar to how UPMC is certified in Pittsburgh.

“The arrival of this new method of adipose cell therapy in Italy is a prime example of the benefits that come with the partnership between UPMC Salvator Mundi and the world-renowned experts in plastic surgery and regenerative medicine at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh,” said Dr. Lucio Cappelli, a physician who is leading this effort in Rome, along with Drs. Carlo Macro and Simone Moroni. “This collaborative effort to share research is improving care for patients globally, bringing the best possible treatments close to home.”

Plastic and reconstructive surgery physicians from Sapienza University in Rome, one of the most prestigious universities in Europe, will also take part in the clinical and scientific collaboration, and Rubin will become a visiting professor there.

Since late 2018, UPMC Salvator Mundi has been part of UPMC’s growing network of world-class health care and research facilities throughout Italy, including one of that nation’s leading transplant centers in Sicily (ISMETT IRCCS) and advanced radiotherapy centers in Rome and in Campania. Under UPMC’s ownership, the 75-bed UPMC Salvator Mundi is expanding its wide range of clinical services and renovating facilities to better serve patients throughout the region.