UNESCO Chair in
interdisciplinary Biotechnology

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UNITWING/UNESCO Chairs Programme
Progress Report

I. Address

Period of activity: 1999

Title of the UNESCO Chair: Interdisciplinary Biotechnology

Report established by:
Vittorio Colizzi M.D., Ph.D., Full Professor of General Pathology, UNESCO Chair in Biotechnology. ICAERI Centre c/o IRCCS L.Spallanzani via Portuense 292, 00149 Rome, Italy. Tel. +39.06.55170430-409 Fax. +39. 06.55170430
Web site:

Target groups:
20 graduate students
50 Postgraduate students
2 academics:

• Prof. C. D. Pauza , Institute of Human Virology University of Maryland, USA
• Prof. M. Malkovsky, , Medical School, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology University of Wisconsin, USA

Geographical Coverage: Italy, Poland, USA
Funding sources:

• UNESCO Venice Office 25,000 $
• University of Rome "Tor Vergata" 25,000 $


• M.Piacentini & V.Colizzi Tissue "transglutaminase: apoptosis versus autoimmunity. Immunol. Today, (1999); 20:130-133

• Kornfeld H., Mancino G., and Colizzi V. The role of macrophage cell death in Tuberculosis. Cell Death Differ, (1999); 6: 71-78.

• M.L. Gougeoun, S.Boulier, V.Colizzi and F.Poccia. NKR-mediated control of gd T cell immunity to viruses. Microbes and Infection, (1999);1 219-226

• Bergamini, A., Faggioli, E., Bolacchi, F., Gessani, S., Cappannoli, L., Uccella, I., Demin, F., Capozzi, M., Cicconi, R., Placido, R., Vendetti, S., Mancino, G., Colizzi, V., Rocchi, G. Enhanced production of TNF-a and Il-6, due to prolonged cytokine response to LPS stimulation, in cultured human macrophages infected in vitro with HIV-1. J. Infect. Dis, (1999); 179, 832-42

• F. Poccia, L. Battistini, B. Cipriani, G. Mancino, F. Martini, M.L. Gougeon and V. Colizzi. Phosphoantigen-reactive Vg9Vd2 T Lymphocytes Suppress in vitro Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Replication by Cell and Antiviral Factors Including CC-Chemochines J. Inf. Dis. (1999); 180:858-61

• F. Poccia, M. Malkovsky, A. Pollak, V. Colizzi, G. Sireci, A. Salerno and F. Dieli. In vivo gd T cell priming to mycobacterial antigens by primary M.tuberculosis infection and exposure to nonpeptidic ligands. Molecular Medicine (1999); 5: 471-476

• M. Fraziano, G. Cappelli, M. Santucci, F. Mariani, M. Amicosante, M. Casarini, S. Giosuè, A Bisetti and V.Colizzi. Expression of CCR5 Is Increased in Human Monocyte-Derived Macrophages in the Course of in Vivo and in Vitro Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection. AIDS Res. Hum. Retrov.(1999); 15, 869-874

• G.Antonelli, E.Riva, F.Maggi, M.L.Vatteroni and E.Simeoni. Influence of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) Genotype, HCV RNA Load, and Alanine Aminotransferase Level on Reduction of HCV RNA after a Single Administration of Interferon a. J.Inf Dis (1999); 180, 1411-12

• S.Uccini, E.Riva, G.Antonelli, G.D'offizi, A.Prozzo, A.Angelici, A.Faggioni, A.Angeloni, M.R.Torrisi, M.Gentile, C.D.Baroni and L.P.Ruco. The Benign Cystic Lymphoepithelial Lesion of the Parotid Glands Is a Viral Reservoir in HIV Type 1-Infected Patients. AIDS Res. Hum Retrov (1999); 15, 1339-1344

• Antonelli and F.Dianzani. Development of antibodies to interferon beta in patients: technical and biological aspects. Eur.Cytokine Netw. (1999); 10, 413-422

• G.Antonelli, E. Simeoni, F.Bagnato, C.Pozzilli, O.Turriziani, R.Tesoro, P.Di Marco, C.Gasperini, C.Fieschi, F.Dianzani. Further study on the specificity and incidence of neutralising antibodies to interferon (TNF) in relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis patients treated whit IFN beta -1a or IFN beta -1b. J.Neurol Sci. (1999); 168, 131-136

Multimedia Material

Title of activity: International Centre for AIDS and Emerging & Re-emerging Infections (ICAERI) Annual Report 1998-99

Year: 1999
Type of material: Book and CD ROM (Web Page
Language: English

This CD-ROM describes activities carried out by the (ICAERI) Centre at the National Institute for Infectious Diseases "L.Spallanzani" in Rome, including the activity carried out by the Chair in the Interdisciplinary Biotechnology for the year 1998.

Title of activity: Biotecnologia
Producer: Scientific Park, University of Rome Tor Vergata
Year: 1999
Type of material: CD ROM
Language: Italian

This CD-ROM illustrates the different fields of Biotechnology (agriculture, pharmaceutical products, gene therapy, etc.) with particular references to the teaching aspects of Biotechnology and the possibility of working activity in the industries near Rome.

II. Available resources:

1. Human resources

  • For the administration of the UNESCO Chair or Network Budget 1999: 25,000 $;
  • For the administration of the UNESCO Chair or Network; two visiting professor: Prof. C.D. Pauza 8,000 $ - Prof. M. Malkovsky 6,000 $. Total 14,000 $;
  • For information and documentation activities ( secretary, print posters and certificate of the Courses) 6,000 $;
  • Others: Missions Prof. Colizzi and local speakers 1,000 $ (Unesco);
  • Others: Scientific publication on J. Biol. Regul. Homeost. Agent. (Unesco - IRCCS L.Spallanzani) special issue 4,000 $.

2. Material resources

  • For the teaching/training/research activities; slides, photocopies, transparency film and CD ROM 10,000 $ (University);
  • for the laboratory research: culture media, reagents, plastics, etc. 15,000 $ (University).

III. Activities

Target groups
- Graduate students 20
Postgraduate students 50
Academics 2

Geographical coverage
National, Italy
Regional, Europe

Funding sources

Type of Organisation / Institution Period Amount
UNESCO Contribution International Agency 1999/2000 $ 25,000
University of Rome "Tor Vergata"   1999 $ 25,000

1. Education/Training/Research:
This Chair as an Interuniversitary activity associated not only to the University of Rome Tor Vergata but also to the University of Roma TRE and then to the University of Rome La Sapienza. The objective is to educate students of the three governmental universities in Rome enrolled in different areas (Biology , Medicine, Chemistry, Economy, Law) to understand the complexity of Biotechnology.

2. Conferences/Meetings:
BIOROMA 2000 - Biotechnology: new opportunities for local development in Europe Rome 30-31 March 2000.

3. Mission/Travels abroad:
Prof. V. Colizzi: Mission to Madison WI USA (22/11/99) for take contacts with Prof. Malkovsky and Prof.Pauza and for the development of the teaching program concerning the UNESCO Courses in Biotechnology.

4. Visiting Professor/Fellowships:

Prof. C.D.Pauza. "Course on scientific Management Stile and Outcome Measure in Biomedical Research"

Upon decision of the Rector of the University of Rome Tor Vergata, the Chair was associated during the academic year 1999/2000 with International Centre for AIDS and Emerging & Re-emerging Infections (ICAERI) at the IRCCS L.Spallanzani in Rome. (see Annex 1) directed by Professor Vittorio Colizzi. The ICAERI Centre has been inaugurated on March the 25th 1998, as result of an agreement between the Institute for Infectious Diseases "Lazzaro Spallanzani", the UNESCO and the World Foundation for AIDS Research and Prevention. ICAERI originates from the CNR-UNESCO agreement to increase the cooperation in scientific research and science communication in the field of AIDS, considering the worldwide impact of this infectious disease.

More specifically, the following tasks of the Chair were defined: organisation of the course on Scientific Management Styles and Outcome Measure in Biomedical Research. The chairholder has been given to Professor C.D. Pauza, Ph.D, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland, USA. Moreover, Dr. F.Martini, Dr. M. Mattei, and Dr. F.Poccia from the group of Professor Colizzi supported the activities of the Chair. The official language was English, with introduction and summary additionally in Italian language. The main objectives of the UNESCO Course on Scientific Management included:

• Orientation
• Introduction to Strategic Planning
• S.W.O.T. analysis exercise
• Annual Operating plan and performance evaluation
• Writing a strategic plan for the Infectious diseases Institute
• Technology transfer, conflict of interest, patent and licensing development

Prof. M. Malkovsky, M.D., PhD. "Advanced Course on Immunology of Infectious diseases"

Upon decision of the Rector of the University, the second part of the Chair was also associated during the academic year 1999/2000 with International Centre for AIDS and Emerging & Re-emerging Infections (ICAERI) at the IRCCS L.Spallanzani in Rome. The chairholder was Professor Prof. M. Malkovsky, M.D., PhD, FRCPath Professor of Immunology, Medical School University of Wisconsin, USA, Dr. F.Poccia from the group of Professor Colizzi supported the activities of the Chair. The official language was English, with introduction and summary additionally in Italian language.

The UNESCO Advanced Course in Immunology of Infectious Diseases was taught by Prof. Malkovsky and the main objectives of the course included:

1. Discussing the state-of-the-art basic and applied knowledge of cellular and molecular immunology and pathogenic and protective mechanisms in various infectious diseases.

2. Learning to apply the new concepts and technology to the diagnosis, prevention and therapy of infectious diseases.

3. Promoting the view that strong links between basic sciences, clinical diagnosing and therapies of infectious diseases are essential for improving public health.

The target audience included (but was not limited to):

1. MDs, PhDs and other postdoctoral scientists, who wished to develop new career objectives in the field of infectious diseases.

2. PhD students and other predoctoral scientists interested in immunology.

3. Scientists seeking a better understanding of basic and applied immunology.

4. Researchers interested in different views on how to conduct research.

The course was divided into four naturally-overlapping and each-other-complementing sections:

Section 1 - How to select research problems
I: Basic cellular and molecular mechanisms
II: Activation versus tolerance
• Antigen presentation and memory cells
• Activation, anergy, immunological tolerance, ignorance, hypo- and unresponsiveness
• TCRs, accessory and co-stimulatory molecules

Section 2 - How to select research problems
III: Immunopathogenesis
• Pathogenic insults due to acute infections.
• Pathogenic insults due to chronic infection.
• Immunopathogenesis of HIV/SIV infections
• Immunopathogenesis of mycobacterial infections

Section 3 - How to write a scientific paper
•High impact journals
•Other journals
•There are no good or bad journals; there are only good and bad papers

Section 4 - How to write an application for a scientific grant
•EU and NIH
•International agencies (WHO, UNESCO, etc.)

The main challenge from the teacher's standpoint was that the 35 participants had all displayed quite varied levels of the knowledge of immunology, ranging from 'practically zero' to 'reasonably sophisticated'. This fact was established by filling a questionnaire before the beginning of the course and discussing the subject with the participants. The participants were asked to describe briefly a) their knowledge of immunology and b) their expectations (what exactly they would like to learn).

Based on the assessment of participants' knowledge, the initial section of the course included an analysis of the components of the immune system, principles of innate and adaptive immunity, and the recognition and effector mechanisms of adaptive immunity. Subsequently, it was discussed the induction, measurement, and manipulation of the immune response, structures of antibody molecules and immunoglobulin genes, antigen recognition by T lymphocytes, and signalling through lymphocyte receptors. Then it was focused (as requested by some students) on the thymus, the development of T cells in the thymus, T-cell receptor gene (TCR) rearrangements and TCR expression, positive and negative selection of T cells, general properties and production of armed effector T cells, T-cell mediated cytotoxicity, macrophage activation by armed CD4 TH1 cells, generation of B cells, selection of B cells, B-cell heterogeneity, antibody production by B lymphocytes, the distribution and function of immunoglobulin isotypes, Fc receptor-bearing accessory cells in humoral immunity and the complement system in humoral immunity. The next discussions were focused on the immune system in health and disease. Specifically, host defence against infection and failures of host defence mechanisms (inherited versus acquired) were discussed with many specific examples (the acquired immune deficiency syndrome caused by HIV was stressed in particular). Then it was analysed in detail allergy and hypersensitivity, immune responses in the 'putative' absence of infection (autoimmunity, transplant rejection and tolerance, and manipulation of the immune response. This last immunological area of discussions focused on extrinsic regulation of unwanted immune responses, using the immune response to attack tumours, and manipulating the immune response to fight infections (vaccines and related topics).

In addition, it was discussed in a great detail five original articles (in five different discussion sessions, which followed the relevant lecture):

1. Wells AD, Li XC, Li Y, Walsh MC, Zheng XX, Wu Z, Nunez G, Tang A, Sayegh M, Hancock WW, Strom TB, Turka LA. Requirement for T-cell apoptosis in the induction of peripheral transplantation tolerance. Nat Med. 1999 Nov;5(11):1303-1307.

2. Li Y, Li XC, Zheng XX, Wells AD, Turka LA, Strom TB. Blocking both signal 1 and signal 2 of T-cell activation prevents apoptosis of alloreactive T cells and induction of peripheral allograft tolerance. Nat Med. 1999 Nov;5(11):1298-1302.

3. Tamada K, Shimozaki K, Chapoval AI, Zhu G, Sica G, Flies D, Boone T, Hsu H, Fu YX, Nagata S, Ni J, Chen L. Modulation of T-cell-mediated immunity in tumour and graft-versus-host disease models through the LIGHT co-stimulatory pathway. Nat Med. 2000 Mar;6(3):283-289.

4. Chen CH, Wang TL, Hung CF, Yang Y, Young RA, Pardoll DM, Wu TC. Enhancement of DNA vaccine potency by linkage of antigen gene to an HSP70 gene. Cancer Res. 2000 Feb 15;60(4):1035-1042.

5. Randolph DA, Huang G, Carruthers CJ, Bromley LE, Chaplin DD. The role of CCR7 in TH1 and TH2 cell localization and delivery of B cell help in vivo. Science. 1999 Dec 10;286(5447):2159-2162.

First, one of the students presented a detailed account of the given article (background, significance, data analysis, conclusions) and then we designed strategies (and discussed their feasibility) for continuing this line of research. This is one of the best way of learning "how to select a scientific problem", which is an important part of any successful scientific process, but is usually severely neglected by regular university courses. Similarly, four invited speakers (Drs. M.-T. De Magistris, C. Saltini, C.D. Pauza and F. Poccia) presented their original research data, and subsequently we discussed their research and its possible continuation pathways exactly as we did with the recent original research papers.

Finally, the course included two sessions on "How to write a scientific paper" (original research papers versus reviews versus textbook articles) and "How to write an application for a scientific grant". It was focused our discussions on particular requirements for each entity as well as on common pitfalls during the writing process such as incomprehensibility, overinterpretation of data, discordance of data and conclusions, poor quality (figures, photos, drawings), missing legends, insufficient details, important data not shown, mixing 'Introduction', 'Results' and 'Discussion' sentences with numerous examples.

5. Information and documentation activities: Organising secretary of the UNESCO Courses by Dr. C. Costa (ICAERI) IRCCS L.Spallanzani.

IV. Impact:

Biotechnology is one of the most relevant technologies in the next millennium. Most of the basic knowledge in Biology and Medicine can be exploited in term of utilisation and application. Due to the complexity of the society and to the different sensibility in term of ethic and philosophy an integrated approach to Biotechnology is required. These UNESCO Courses in Biotechnology represented a concrete answer to the limit of single disciplines and monotematic teaching course in a complex aspect of modern life such as Biotechnology.

The activation of the UNESCO Interdisciplinary Chair in Biotechnology at the University of Rome " Tor Vergata ", in the context of the Project UNESCO UNI/TWIN, has represented one occasion to see different methodologies of teaching in a complex field such as biotechnology. Theoretical and practical aspects of Biotechnology have been analysed in the context of modern knowledge and their industrial applications.

Two UNESCO Courses in Biotechnology were carried out at the University of Rome " Tor Vergata, one course has been dedicated to the Immunology of the infections and the second to the Management of the Biomedical Search. The chosen teachers are two university professors of the University of Wisconsin in Immunology and Pathology respectively. Their experience of life and expertises investigators is different: one (David Pauza.) represents the classic forty-years old American university professor, formed in the best college and the university, with a strongly experience to use its knowledge practically, not only in publishing but also in making patents, technological transfer, acquiring Grant and manage the laboratory like an industry.

The other, (Miroslav Malkovskhy) is an example of the European scientist of the second half of the last century, as he has been educated first in the faculty medicine in Prague at the time in which Czech immunology was second only to the British immunology, then at Medical research Council in London.. Finally, with the great migration of the Immunology from England to the United States, Miroslav Malkovsky has been selected to teach Immunology at the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology of the University of Wisconsin.

V. Forthcoming activities

For the future activities as UNESCO UNITWIN Program, the Rector of the University of Rome "Tor Vergata" has invited Dr.Josefina Calvo Quintana (Instituto de Materiales y Reactivo Grupo de Sensores y Biosensores, Universidad de la Habana Cuba) to spend 12 months in the Laboratory of Biosensor, co-ordinated by Professor G. Palleschi, Director of Department of Chemical Sciences and Technologies at the University of Rome " Tor Vergata". A specific courses on biosensors in biotechnology will be held for the student of biology and chemistry.

VI. Development Prospects

The UNESCO Chair in Interdisciplinary Biotechnology at the University of Rome "Tor Vergata" aims to enhance the integration of the different fields of Biotechnology. In the first two years of activities of the Chair, the selected topics have been Biology and Medicine. In the next years Chemistry, Economy and Law will be approached with the students of Biology and Medicine in Rome.