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Brief Description

Established in the 1300’s, the university of Pisa is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Italy. It has 11 faculties, 55 departments and a total of 51550 undergraduate and over 3000 post graduate students.

Department involved

The Interdepartmental Research Centre, "E. Piaggio" is an Interdepartmental Centre of the Faculty of Engineering devoted to multisciplinary research in the fields of Bioengineering and Robotics, and to the training of research and development personnel. The Centre co-operates with private and public companies to study specific applied problems that need advanced or innovative solutions. Affiliated Departments and institutes (CNR Institute of Clinical Physiology) offer their research and technical personnel to the Centre to provide a truly interdisciplinary environment. Laboratory facilities comprise a machine-shop, electronic, optics and fiber-optic measurement and testing instruments, a chemical laboratory, microfabrication facilities, and a cell culture laboratory (jointly operated at CNR-IFC). 

Activities in the project

UNIPI’s role will be to design connected culture systems using their current technology, adapt this to studies in toxicology and to the specific cell and system framework (for example controlling pressure, shear stress, oxygen concentration in a 3 or 4 cell culture system) before passing the system on to the other beneficiaries while investigating cell metabolism and cross talk in the system at a baseline level. Subsequently the design will be adapted to CSEM’s membrane technology and will then be produced (at a prototypal level) for use by the toxicology specialists.

Expertise in these activities / Previous experiences

UNPI have developed and refined cell culture techniques and systems which are currently under patent. Their basic element is a microfabricated bioreactor. The bioreactors are modular and can be used to simulate any type of complex tissue or organ system through appropriate connections. UNIPI also have expertise in biomaterials and microfabrication for tissue engineering scaffolds which they have shown to be very useful for increasing cell density in microculture environments.

Key people involved

Pr. Arti Ahluwalia. After a BSc. in Physics, (UK), a MSc in Instrumentation and Analytical Science (UK) and a PhD in Bioengineering (IT), she is now Associate professor of Bioengineering at the Department of Information Engineering, Faculty of Engineering, University of Pisa, and vice director of the Interdepartmental Research Centre "E. Piaggio and head of the Bio-Group. The main focus of her research is centred on the interaction between biological systems and man-made devices or structures, spanning from biomolecular films, surface engineering, and biosensing to microfabrication, biomaterials and biotechnologies for tissue engineering and toxicology.    

 Some relevant publications / Patent 

  • Mazzei D et al, IEEE Industrial Electronics, September 2008 (In Press)
  • Vozzi F, et al, Tissue Engineering, 2008 (in press) 
  • A.Ahluwalia, G. Vozzi, F. Vozzi, A. Previti, N. Forgione, C. Scarpa, V. Rossi, Bioreattore per lo studio degli effetti sulle attività cellulari di stimoli imposti, n. PI/2004/A/000046, Italia 2004,
  • Bioreactor for the study of the effects of imposed stimuli on cellular activity WO 2005/123258 A1, Italy, 29 December 2005