The Course represents a unique and highly innovative Course within the Italian University system. It is an interactive Course open to students of the second level of education, or higher, and is characterized by an integration of the biology of stem cells and their clinical applications. While solidly dwelling upon the fundamentals of the structure and organization of human tissues, the Course aims at imparting notions about the functional and molecular bases for the architecture, maintenance and remodeling of tissues and how this is assured by the purporting of the stem/progenitor cells residing in specific niches. The Course has therefore the objective to allow students to acquire a comprehensive view of how homeostasis of human tissues is controlled by a delicate balance between a precise arrangement of their cellular and extracellular matrix elements and the regeneration capabilities that the endogenous progenitor/stem cells may possess. Ultimately, the student is expected to gain a global understanding of the intimate association between tissue structure (morphology) and homeostatic dynamics (function).
To ascertain that students will grasp the elementary notions about the above mentioned structure-functional relationship governing tissue homeostasis, the Course discusses conventional and more advanced methods for the analysis of tissue and extracellular matrix assembly, the modes of maintenance of such structures, and the mechanisms governing tissue regeneration. How stem/progenitor cells may contribute to these processes will be at the focus of attention. The Course has thereby the following primary goals:
I) discuss in detail the cellular and molecular traits of the different stem cell populations discovered in the various tissues/organs of the human body;
II) treat the functional properties of these cells and how properties have been established experimentally;
III) exemplify how various stem cell types may be exploited in therapeutic settings for tissue reconstruction approaches and for the treatment of a variety of pathological conditions, including chronic inflammation, degenerative and autoimmune diseases, and cancer.