UPMC-backed Ri.MED Wins High Marks in Research Ranking

By: Wendy Zellner

In a recent ranking of more than 300 scientific projects submitted for funding to the Region of Sicily in Italy, the Ri.MED Foundation—which includes co-founder UPMC—had four projects deemed eligible for funding, including one that was ranked first by a national panel of scientific experts. That research project, based on new statistical and computational methods, focuses on studying biological interactions that influence tumors.

Together with its scientific and industry partners in these projects, Ri.MED will receive approximately €2 million in funding next year. An international partnership between the Italian Government, the Region of Sicily, the Italian National Research Council, the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC, Ri.MED promotes, supports and leads biomedical and biotechnological research projects, with an emphasis on translating innovative results into clinical practice

Ri.MED’s partnership with UPMC-managed ISMETT, one of Italy’s leading transplant and high-specialty hospitals, is a key factor in helping the foundation rapidly transfer research results from bench to bedside. Two of the four submitted projects will be implemented at Palermo-based ISMETT and will focus on developing placenta-derived stem cell therapies for liver and endometrial diseases and on creating regenerative medicine biobanks.

The fourth project is aimed at creating a nanosensor that will indicate inflammatory processes and oxidative stress in different cellular systems. This innovative lab tool will allow scientists to monitor hydrogen peroxide release within a cell culture in real time, without affecting the cells’ growth conditions.

“This investment in scientific research by the Region of Sicily will further the well-being of our community, as well as the economic growth of this area,” said Dr. Bruno Gridelli, executive vice president of UPMC International and vice president of Ri.MED. “Ri.MED’s strong showing in this advanced research capability underscores the importance of bringing together scientists, clinicians and industry to turn innovative ideas into reality.”

Founded in June 1997 by the Region of Sicily and UPMC, ISMETT was included in the regional health system in 2012 and two years later was designated as a government-approved research hospital, or Istituto di Ricovero e Cura a Carattere Scientifico (IRCCS). The designation acknowledges ISMETT for its excellence in research, training, quality of care and management of health services. In June 2017, the Ri.MED Foundation became part of ISMETT’s governance structure. The foundation is currently focused on the creation of the Biomedical Research and Biotechnology Center, a planned 269,000-square-foot research center near Palermo, which will be a reference point for researchers from all over the world.