Who we are
University of Pisa, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine
The Rheumatology Unit, is part of the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine of the University of Pisa (UNIPI). Patients care, clinical research and education are the three main objectives of the activity of the Unit.
Representative: Prof. Dr. Marta Mosca
The Rheumatology Unit is referral center for systemic autoimmune diseases, including SLE, undifferentiated connective tissue disease (UCTD), antiphospholipid syndrome (SAPL), Systemic Vasculitides, Inflammatory Myopathies and Systemic Sclerosis.
Since March 2017, the Unit is the coordinating Clinical Centre of the ERN-RECONNET, the European Reference Network on Rare Connective Tissue and Musculoskeletal Diseases.
The clinical activity is structured in three levels of care: outpatients clinic, day-hospital for daily drug infusions and inpatients ward.
The outpatients clinic provides first level rheumatologic assessments for undiagnosed patients and disease-specific clinics for SLE (Lupus clinic), Systemic Sclerosis (Scleroderma clinic), Sjogren’s Syndrome (Sjogren Clinic), Rheumatoid Arthritis, Inflammatory Myopathies, Systemic Vasculitis, Behcet disease and fibromyalgia. In addition a combined pregnancy clinic for patients with systemic autoimmune diseases is active since 2001.
All these dedicated clinics are characterized by a multidisciplinary approach to the patients (thanks to several health professionals involved, like physical therapists, obstetrics and gynecologists, nephrologists, ophthalmologists and so on) and by a strong effort toward quality of care and a patient-centered approach.
In the Lupus clinic of the Unit, overall 400 SLE, 350 UCTD and 200 SAPL patients are regularly followed.
The inpatients ward consists of 18 beds addressed to severely ill patients with rheumatologic conditions, among which connective tissue diseases represent the most frequent indication to the hospitalization.
The Unit also offers three activities of instrumental diagnostics: the capillaroscopy, the musculoskeletal ultrasound and the DEXA.
The research activity of the Unit is focused on epidemiological studies and prognostic factors of systemic autoimmune diseases; quality of care, imaging studies, outcomes measures are other topics of the research activity of the Rheumatology Unit. The research activity is documented in more than 500 published scientific articles over 40 years of activity, several participations to national and international congresses and a worldwide esteem of the research activity. The Rheumatology Unit takes part and leads several collaborative research studies with Italian and European centers.
The educational mission of the Rheumatology Unit is achieved by several initiatives and courses with national and international significance, addressed to medical students, young rheumatologists, nurses and general practitioners. Among these courses, a particular mention goes to the bi-annual EULAR scientifically endorsed course on SLE successfully arrived at its VIII edition and entirely organized by Prof Mosca and her staff. The Course is aimed at 70 young rheumatologists (aged less than 40 years of age) coming from all over the world; the course is aimed at providing a comprehensive and intensive training on various aspects of SLE.
Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Institute of Management
Sant’Anna School (SSSA) is one of the five Italian special status university institutions, also called “Scuole Universitarie Superiori” that hold a unique position within the Italian higher education system.
Representative: Prof. Giuseppe Turchetti
It is a public university in its own right, which carries out research and education in applied sciences: Business Sciences, Economic Sciences, Legal Sciences, Political Sciences, Agricultural Sciences, Medical Sciences, Industrial Engineering and Information Engineering.
In 2017 SSSA places in the 9th in the top 200 best young universities in the world (less than 50 years old). In 2018 in the 155th place out of 1,102 international institutions provided by Times Higher Education World University Rankings (https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/scuola-superiore-santanna) and in the top 10 of the world's the best small (less than 5,000 students) universities.
The SSSA is part, along with the University of Pisa and the Scuola Normale Superiore, of the university system of Pisa. This is a network that aims to coordinate the scientific knowledge of these three institutions. Pisa also hosts the headquarters of the National Research Council (CNR) and the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN).
SSSA has 570 students attending university courses, 370 students attending PhD courses, 1,900 students in post-graduate training courses and continuing education, and a teacher/student ratio of 1:7.
Undergraduate students are admitted to the SSSA after passing an extremely competitive exam. Winners must enrol at the University of Pisa, respecting the obligations provided for in the curriculum with an average score of at least 27 points out of 30. The campus is free of charge for the undergraduate students. In addition to the students' residence, the Scuola offers facilities such as a canteen, a laundry, a cloakroom, a computing centre, a language laboratory, a gym and plenty of recreational space. In 2018 the campus has a capacity for 250 students, located in three different buildings.
Master degrees (MD) and graduate programmes (GM) courses are implemented in agreement with prestigious Italian and overseas universities. Post-graduate degree courses are conducted entirely in English and students are subject to a rigorous selection process.
Scientific research is one of the main missions of the SSSA and an integral part of its development policy. Scientific research is carried out within the Institutes, which plan and manage activities, enhancing the relationship between education and research, as well as inter-disciplinarity and interaction with the cultural, social and economic world. The SSSA has a high number of research projects, of which the majority are international. This allows for self-financing, with a great degree of self-funding. SSSA takes part in EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (Horizon 2020). SSSA supervised 6 projects and co-worked on 30 for a total funding of 13 million euros.
Research carried out in Institutes promotes the development of business ideas and innovative technologies, capable of stimulating the creation of new enterprises and enhancing scientific research.
SSSA has the highest ratio in Italy for number of patents awarded to university in Science & Technology area (2.25 patents per person). No. 37 patent applications were registered in 2016, 16 of which were Italian, 7 international (PCT), 5 European, 3 in USA, and 6 in other countries. Almost 25% of these patents were licensed to Italian small and medium-sized private companies. In addition to patents, innovation research had a positive impact on the market, encouraging the creation of spin-off enterprises in high technology sectors such as micromechatronics, nanotechnology, bioengineering and biomedicine, photonics, environmental science and software engineering. SSSA created 59 spin-off enterprises over the period 1991-2016 (4 in 2016) of which 46 are ongoing and 39 are licenced.
Internationalization is one of the priorities at SSSA. It is achieved through international agreements with prestigious universities and research institutes. These collaborations involve the majority of SSSA’s scientific areas and promote partnerships for academic staff and student mobility through Erasmus project (26 partner countries).
SSSA promotes international study opportunities, staff training mobility, summer schools and internships.
The Institute of Management (IdM) of SSSA includes professors and researchers from the fields of economics, management, statistics, engineering and political science. The IdM has an interdisciplinary expertise in different innovation domains including: health economics, new business model management, internationalization of production and investments in innovation, strategic management of Intellectual Property, green technologies assessment, sustainable supply-chain management and stakeholder engagement. The IdM has considerable experience in the identification and analysis of drivers for sustainability and competitiveness in ICT, energy, environmental services, life sciences, and particularly in health. Furthermore, the IdM has carried out several projects, funded by EC Programme such as FP VII, H2020, 3rd Health Programme, Life.
The Health Economics research group (HE) is coordinated by Prof. Giuseppe Turchetti, PhD, Fulbright Scholar, Full Professor at the IdM of the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna.
Evaluation and assessment of new technologies and procedures relevant to surgery, minimally invasive therapy, pharmacological treatment in a Health Technology Assessment (HTA) perspective are the main fields of research activities. Scientific method and a strong interdisciplinary approach are applied in analysing relevant topics in:
- innovation process, evaluation, adoption, and diffusion of medical/technological innovations;
- economic and organizational impact of eHealth;
- organization and management of very complex healthcare and long-term care programs and procedures;
- economic evaluation models as cost effectiveness, cost utility, cost benefit and social cost studies;
- financing of health care and long-term care programs;
- assessment of the role of nutraceuticals and appropriate life style on health outcomes.
The group of HE achieved high level of expertise thanks to the participation in national and international studies and projects financed by European Commission, Italian Ministry of Health and Italian Ministry of Education, University and Research, several Regional Administrations.
Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Policlinic of Rheumatology & Hiller Research Unit
The Policlinic of Rheumatology & Hiller Research Unit, Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf (UDUS), focuses on routine patient care and basic and translational research on inflammatory rheumatic diseases.
Representative: Prof. Dr. Matthias Schneider
Approximately 2,500 in- and outpatients with musculoskeletal and rheumatic diseases are seen per year; the clinic contributes approximately 30% of the lupus patients documented in the National Database of the German Collaborative Arthritis Centres at the DRFZ Berlin.
In 2007, the Collaborative Arthritis Centre Rhine Ruhr (RZRR) was founded by merging the former Collaborative Arthritis Centres Düsseldorf and Western Ruhr area (Essen), with its administrative office located at the Department of Rheumatology at HHUD. Nineteen rheumatologic departments in different hospitals and 80 resident rheumatologists are partners in the RZRR. Approximately 12 million people live in this area.
We are members of the European Reference Network on connective tissue and musculoskeletal diseases (ERN ReCONNET) established in March 2017.
The Policlinic of Rheumatology at the UDUS was one of the six leading competence centres of the “Competence Network Rheumatic Diseases” funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Science. Due to this role the information technology expertise at the Department of Rheumatology at the HHUD has a longstanding tradition. Several information technology projects have been conducted or established in our clinic (e.g. evaluation of the use of an APP for self-management in rheumatoid arthritis outpatients - MiDEAR; Patients’ attitudes towards electronic health record; an online registry for pregnant patients with inflammatory rheumatic diseases - RHEKISS)
Since 2001, a nationwide SLE cohort study (LuLa-study) is performed completely based on patients reported outcomes focusing on burden of illness, therapy adherence, care, coping and similar topics. Exceptional competencies exist on the subject co-morbidities and their prevention on account of established non-interventional cohorts and cross sectional studies (arteriosclerosis study, Lupus erythematodes Langzeit-Studie (LuLa) study, Lupus-prevention pass, gender study), which are all performed in collaboration with the German Lupus Self-help Organisation.
Further research focuses on the issue that conceptualised psychoeducational support may produce a significant and sustained improvement in coping skills of SLE patients and hence in their quality of life.
A dedicated biobank compliant with the German and international data-protection regulations and research in biomarkers supports the (health services) research in view of the developments in the field of individualised medicine.
The Rheumatology in Düsseldorf has successfully applied for multiple funding at EU, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Ministry of Innovation, Science, Research and Technology of North-Rhine-Westphalia, patient organisations (e.g. Deutsche Rheuma-Liga and German LE Self-Help Community), and the pharmaceutical industry and is sponsored continuously by the Hiller foundation, which founded together with the HHUD the Hiller Research Unit for Rheumatology in 2015, which is coordinated by professorship for Experimental Rheumatology.
In addition, Rheumatology has its own unit of biometrics and a specific research unit for imaging in Rheumatology.