IRCCS SDN, Istituto di Ricerca
The Institute for Hospitalization and Healthcare (IRCCS) SDN is an Italian approved multi-specialized healthcare laboratory and diagnostic provider that has been operating in the electrophysiology, imaging diagnostics and nuclear medicine sectors for more than 40 years. The main purpose of the IRCCS SDN is to satisfy the whole patient’s diagnostic workout by means of an advanced high-tech environment (e.g., equipped with high-field MR, MR/PET, HD-EEG, HD-EEG/fMRI), steadily integrated and up-to-date.
Besides clinical care services, SDN offers the opportunity to performe advanced scientific research (i.e. functional MR and tractography) aimed at high-precision pre-surgical planning and neurological functional sparing. In addition, SDN supports research activities and scientific dissemination of in vivo and in vitro diagnostics, with methodological application and integration in the preclinical as well as clinical contexts, with particular interest in neurological, neurosurgical and psychiatric diseases.
The Italian Ministry of Health recognized SDN as an IRCCS for “Integrated Diagnostics for Imaging and Laboratory” also in neurological disciplines on January 11, 2007 and confirmed such qualification on 2014 and again on 2016.
In particular, the IRCCS SDN, together with its local collaborators, including hospital and academic units, is steadily involved in the research on Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia, in which FDG-PET and cerebral PET with beta-amyloid tracers are used with simultaneous advanced MR acquisitions in an effort to reduce acquisition time and tracer injected dosage, improving patients’ compliance. Furthermore, the institute is involved in the study of other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, in an attempt to clarify the pathological mechanisms and to identify early imaging bio-markers for prompt diagnosis and prognosis. Recently, the IRCCS SDN was granted a project on patients with disorders of consciousness aimed at improving clinical diagnosis and identify imaging parameters for prediction of functional recovery using MR/PET.
The SDN Institute is constantly striving to enhance the quality of procedures and therefore voluntarily submits to external audits of its standards by national (quality management system “ISO 9001”) and international organizations (Joint Commission International, European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) and European Board of Nuclear Medicine (EBNM)).
To support research activity, innovative core facilities are operating also partly open to external users:
• Imaging Processing Centre NAPLAB (NeuroAnatomy and image Processing LABoratory), focused on connectomics, i.e. the study of how distinct brain regions interact among them; radiomics, i.e. the identification of complex quantitative parameters from digital medical images, and the definition of novel diagnostic, prognostic and treatment-response markers in neurodegenerative diseases.
• Laboratory of Statistics and Bioinformatics
• Radiopharmaceutical for novel PET molecular-targeting radio-tracer synthesis
• Nanotechnology laboratory for the development of new contrast agents at lower toxicity and higher pathology specificity
• Laboratory of Advanced Preclinical Imaging for the identification, validation and transfer of novel biomarkers as well as assessment of pharmacological treatments in terms of bio-distribution and efficacy
• Biobank involved in the preservation of biological samples, including tissues, serum, plasma, mononuclear cells, urine and feces for being analyzed and correlated with clinical history and imaging diagnostics in loco. The Biobank is part of the Biobanking and BioMolecular Resources Research Infrastructure (BBMRI) for the establishment of an Expert Center, ATMA-CE, a technological Hub focussed on radiomics and validation of imaging biomarkers.
For many years now, the IRCCS SDN had several formal and informal agreements with academies, private and public healthcare providers and organizations at both national and international levels for the implementation of experimental research and clinical programs. This was pursued for encouraging scientific cooperation through research personnel exchanging, and sharing scientific knowledge in neurodegenerative disease and the other above-mentioned fields.
The Institute also actively participates in the following programs: HBP Italy – Human Brain Project Italy, ADNI – Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, EIBIR – European Institute for Biomedical Imaging Research, EuroBioImaging – a large-scale infrastructure project of pan-European research of the ESFRI (European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructure), KIC Innostar, Italian node for “Healthy living and active aging”; EATRIS – European Advanced Translational Research Infrastructure in Medicine, BBMRI – Biobanking and BioMolecular Resources Research Infrastructure,research infrastructure involving biobanks and biological resource centers – European Expert Center (ATMA) and Network promoted by the Ministry of Health.