EU Commissioner Elisa Ferreira visits ISMETT and Ri.MED research laboratories

Research Infrastructure (IR) laboratories of IRCCS ISMETT and Ri.MED were the focus of the visit of Elisa Ferreira, European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms. The IR was strengthened thanks to an investment co-financed by the Sicilian Region, Department of Productive Activities, through the resources of the European Regional Developement Fund Operational Programme (ERDF OP), Sicily 2014-2020. Thanks to these funds, the IR at ISMETT-Ri.MED were strengthened and consolidated acquiring new technology and new laboratories.

The EU Delegation led by Commissioner Ferreira, comprised Elena Grech, Deputy Head of Representation of the European Commission in Italy, and Nicola De Michelis, Director General of the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy (DG REGIO).

The event was also attented by a regional delegation led by Regional Councillor for Productive Activities Edy Tamajo, Carmelo Frittitta, General Manager of Productive Activities, and Vincenzo Falgares, General Manager of Programming. “The Sicilian Region co-financed one of the most significant research projects in southern Italy according to the Agency for Territorial Cohesion, namely the enhancement of the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) research facility, research laboratories and diagnostic and therapeutic services of IRCCS ISMETT, in partnership with the Ri.MED Foundation,” said Commissioner Tamajo.

There are 12 enhanced laboratories within the IR, including a Cell Factory and a Biobank, in an area of about 800 square meters, thanks to an investment of more than €16.4 million, divided 50% among the beneficiaries (IRCCS ISMETT and Ri.MED Foundation) and the Sicilian Region. “These are cutting-edge laboratories that will allow to start in Sicily precision medicine programs, one of the new frontiers of medicine oriented toward customized care. The challenge is to create new clinical approaches tailored to selected patient groups based on biological profiles and clinical and digital phenotypes, and identify new treatments, including cell therapies, and prevention methods. This will allow us to evolve from therapies and prevention models identical for all paths of care, to ones indicated for increasingly small groups of patients,” said Angelo Luca, Director of ISMETT-UPMC.

The new laboratories will allow IRCCS ISMETT and Ri.MED physicians and researchers to access large amount of data to be used on platforms able to store and analyze them using AI mathematical algorithms. This way, valuable information shall be uncovered not only on severe diseases, such as cancer, but also on prediction of clinical course and response to treatment. The project was designed with the support of UPMC, the U.S. medical group that has already designed a Big Data platform for business intelligence and research at Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh. “The IRCCS ISMETT and Ri.MED research infrastructure, strengthened thanks to the ERDF Sicily 2014-2020 is an example of innovation in translational research, with important effects for therapeutic applications,” said Paolo Aquilanti, President of the Ri.MED Foundation. “The new devices for research purposes are an important achievement to develop scientific projects requiring state-of-the-art equipment, as are the integrated efforts of physicians and researchers. This increases the potential for success of joint research projects between Ri.MED, IRCCS ISMETT and UPMC, raising Sicily’s competitiveness in terms of know-how and capacity to attract new investors.”