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Intake 1 - June 2023

Intake 2 - July 2023

Intake 3 - August 2023

Teenager Research Internship in 3D Printing coronary arteries

- Summer Intakes in 2023

Research Institute: The Cardiovascular Centre of the University of Ferrara and S. Anna Hospital

Location: Ferrara, Italy

Research Internship Openings: A maximum of 2 interns will be accepted per entry round. Teenager(s) who aspire to experience real-life research work and pursue university studies majoring in life sciences, health sciences or medicine in medical schools around the world.

Related Academic Majors: Bioengineering, Biophysics, Clinical Psychology, Environmental health, Epidemiology, Medical device development, Medical imaging, Medicine, Physiology, Toxicology.

Places where the internship training takes place: The Cardiovascular Centre of the University of Ferrara; S.Anna Hospital Cardiology Floors; LTTA Centre (Laboratory for Advanced Therapy Technologies) located in the old S. Anna hospital; Prevention Centre located in Palazzo Turchi di Bagno.

Internship Dates: Intake 1 - June 2023 – March 2024; Intake 2 - July 2023 – March 2024. The exact beginning and ending internship dates are subject to the agreement between mentors and interns. The selected dates will initially be decided upon and informally communicated with the accepted intern(s) before an official offer letter is formally provided.

Period: The research internship training is completed over the course of 8 months (1 month on-site, 7 months online) from the induction, consisting of both onsite training and online participation. The intern is expected to commit to a minimum of 160 hours, including time assigned for completing preparation work and assignments geared at enabling interns to co-write an abstract or short report for submission to a reputable congress.

Administrator: TAP Education Foundation

About The Cardiovascular Center

About LTTA Centre

(Laboratory for Advanced Therapy Technologies)

LTTA_logo.jpg

About The Internship Research Team

Mentor

Researchers

Prof. Gianluca Campo

Prof. Gianluca Campo

Clinical Team

Dr. Simone Biscaglia

Dr. Simone Biscaglia

Clinical Team

Prof. Paola Rizzo

Prof. Paola Rizzo

Basic Research Team

Dr. Paolo Severi

Dr. Paolo Severi

Basic Research Team

About the Internship Research Subject

3D Printing Coronary Arteries

Dr. Paolo Severi

This advanced 3-D bio-printing technology is the future of cellular research and allows us to continually develop coronary artery treatment approaches for use in basic research and cardiovascular disease, creating novel strategic models that are more tunable and ethical in the process of reconstructing the physiological architecture of blood vessels.

Research Background

“3D printing coronary arteries” is a 5-year research project that started in 2021. The project was introduced by The Cardiovascular Centre of the University of Ferrara and S. Anna Hospital, and correspondingly funded by the Anna Maria Sechi Foundation for the Heart (FASC). In brief, the research scope encompasses novel research techniques that strive to successfully recreate a human coronary artery in a laboratory setting. The advanced technologies and cutting-edge research designs provide an advantageous position valuable in facilitating the exploration of variable avenues of research. Currently, this work is closely related to 3D printing methodology and provides a solid foundation for an intern to learn and apply various basic practices as described in the next paragraph.

 

The heart is a unique organ that pumps blood through the arterial circulatory system to all regions of the body. Beating at a minimum of 100,000 beats per day and pumping over 9,000 litres of blood every 24 hours, our heart beats continuously without pause. To perform this endless form of non-stop intensive work, the heart itself requires a continuous supply of oxygen. Coronary arteries refer to the vessels that transport oxygenated blood to the heart muscle via coronary circulation. Anatomically, the coronary arteries wrap around the heart and encompass two main branches, namely the left coronary artery (LAD) and the right coronary artery (RCA), both of which originate from the Aorta. These main arteries (also called epicardial coronary arteries) then branch into smaller arteries and capillaries, which constitute the microcirculation of the heart (Figures A). Obstruction of the coronary arteries can cause a decrease in the blood flow to the heart, subsequently resulting in a decline of oxygen and nutrients that cause a consequent reduction and/or impairment of various heart functions. Atherosclerosis causes coronary arteries to narrow. Coronary atherosclerosis occurs when calcium, cholesterol, and other substances are deposited in the coronary arteries and form a plaque along the coronary walls that then gradually partially or completely block blood flow to the heart muscle (Figures B and C). The resultant insufficient blood supply, known as ischaemia, implies that the heart is unable to work properly, especially under conditions of increased stress or exercise. This provokes a sensation of pain in the chest, called exertion pain, which usually improves at rest. This condition is referred to as stable angina. Conversely, unstable angina is characterized by a more severe and long-lasting sensation of chest pain that occurs at rest and is resultant from a severe narrowing of the coronary arteries. Further, the plaque formation can rupture, leading to the formation of a thrombus (Figure D). This thrombus may then block the flow of blood to a particular area of the heart, with the resultant lack of oxygen causing the death of heart tissue known as an infarct. Coronary artery disease (CAD) is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The most prevalent form of CAD is resultant from the obstruction of the coronary arteries. Currently, CAD can be treated with drugs or by revascularization, i.e., re-opening or enlarging of the blocked or narrowed coronary arteries achieved through either angioplasty or heart surgery. Coronary angioplasty is a procedure used to open clogged heart arteries. Angioplasty employs the use of a small inflatable balloon catheter that is inserted into an obstructed coronary artery. When inflated, it widens the lumen of the vessel and subsequently improves blood flow to the heart (Figure E). Angioplasty is frequently combined with the surgical placement of a small wire mesh tube called a stent (Figure F). With respect to the treatment of CAD, angioplasty is regarded as the best treatment for myocardial infarction and is especially useful when employed to rapidly open a blocked coronary artery and reduce the amount of damage to the heart. In this case, the procedure is called Primary Angioplasty.

Figure A

Figure A

Figure B

Figure B

Figure C

Figure C

Figure D

Figure D

Figure E

Figure E

Figure F

Figure F

Professor Paola Rizzo

The work conducted in this laboratory is directed at investigating the functional mechanisms corresponding to endothelial cardiovascular health. All aspects of the scientific process are explored, allowing you to improve your technical skills, time management skills, communication skills, and most importantly your ability to critically analyze and interpret scientific data.

Objectives

Within the “3D printing coronary arteries” research team, prospective interns will be explicitly trained to acquire and develop the following knowledge and skill sets:

  • Understanding the importance of the heart function in the body and comprehending the role of ischaemic diseases on the coronary arteries

  • Understanding the relationship between clinical and basic science

  • Discerning the fundamentals of protocol writing

  • Laboratory books compilation

  • Literature review and analysis

The intern will be able to acquire firsthand experience in the following areas:

  • Visualizing coronary arteries in normal and pathological conditions using different techniques, such as TAC (coronary tomography) or coronarography

  • Repairing a damaged coronary artery through the application of interventional cardiology, effectively allowing an intern to follow the entire curative process from beginning to end

  • Establish a functional relationship between coronary artery abnormalities and the most common diseases experienced worldwide, i.e. ischaemic heart disease and myocardial infarction

  • Actively re-constructing coronary arteries “in vitro” through the application of modern 3D printing technology

  • Comprehensively connecting basic science aspects to the affiliated clinical applications

  • Executing modern laboratory operations without animal experiments

  • Adopting modern technology, such as novel 3D printing applications, in order to produce research work that exhibits an increased probability of successful publication in various world-renowned journals

The intern will familiarize themselves with attendance to the cardiovascular basic science laboratory, experiencing hands-on exposure to the following technologies, whilst developing the skills required to directly implement and discuss various research procedures whenever appropriate:

  • Cell culture

  • In vitro models of an isolated heart

  • Cell viability assays (necrosis, apoptosis, cell cycle analysis, DNA genotoxicity, autophagy, senescence)

  • Reporter gene assay

  • Cell metabolism assays (spectrophotometric and chemiluminescence-based assays: metabolic labelling)

  • Immunoblotting, co-immunoprecipitation

  • Cellular and nuclear protein extraction

  • Nucleic acid extraction

  • Genotyping assay

  • Primary cultures from tissues

  • Real-time PCR

  • PCR

  • Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)

  • Electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA)

  • 3D printing

In addition to the unique hard-skills that will be acquired, the intern will be able to develop the following important soft-skills contributing to their personal growth and development:

  • Efficient time management

  • Critical thinking

  • Effective collaboration and communication

About The Internship Curriculum

Curriculum Overview

Professor Paola Rizzo

This mixed modality course is comprised of both online and onsite components which enable you to analyze literature, formulate a hypothesis, design an experiment and formally write a report. The process exposes you to numerous research opportunities where you can acquire valuable knowledge that is applicable in many biomedical fields.

Internship Training Curriculum 160 hrs (140 hrs on-site + 20 hrs online) – completed within 8 months (1 month on-site, 7 months online)

  1. Online induction (10hrs) – Covers basic information regarding the logic and methodology behind human coronary artery reconstruction in-vitro, histology, physiology and basic pathology of human coronary artery cells, 3D printing technology, protocols of in-vitro inducing atherosclerosis to prepare for the on-site internship. A suggested reading list will be provided and discussed.

  2. On-site internship in Ferrara (140hrs) - Attendance to the cardiovascular basic science laboratory with exposure to the following technologies: cell culture; in vitro models of isolated heart; cell viability assays (necrosis, apoptosis, cell cycle analysis, DNA genotoxicity, autophagy, senescence); reporter gene assay; cell metabolism assays (spectrophotometric and chemiluminescence-based assays: metabolic labelling); immunoblotting, co-immunoprecipitation; cellular and nuclear protein extraction; nucleic acid extraction; genotyping assay; primary cultures from tissues; real-time PCR; PCR; chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP); electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA); 3D printing. Interns will learn how to implement and discuss these research procedures whenever appropriate.

  3. Appraisal I

  4. Online training (10hrs) – The intern will give updates on the overall progress of the ongoing experiments that he/she participated in whilst in Ferrara; data assignments; preliminary research publication plan; guidance on scientific paper writing (how to perform a literature review, how to manage citations and construct a bibliography, and how to both read and organize a scientific article); co-write an abstract or a short report for submission to a reputable conference publication (proceedings).

  5. Intern’s online presentation: Written article regarding the related research work.

  6. Appraisal II

Quality Control:

  • At the start of TAP: An objective plan and evaluation criteria will be established, cordially discussed and mutually agreed upon by both the mentor and intern.

  • During TAP: Data collection regarding program quality, progress report generation, logistical considerations and appropriate arrangement.

  • At the end of TAP: Personalized appraisals will be arranged regarding both the onsite and online internship components.

Outcome of the internship:

  • Certification of completion endorsed by the research organization and the key opinion leader (mentor) will be issued to the intern, subject to satisfactory attendance.

  • Based on the individual appraisal provided by the mentor and fellow researchers, in addition to the progress data collected by the TAP Education Foundation Ltd., a customized evaluation report will be generated for each intern, explicitly detailing his/her overall performance and relevant areas of improvement.

  • Subject to the performance of the appraisal, interns may be provided with personal references detailing the specific skills and overall qualities of the intern.

  • Depending on the intern’s individual engagement in the work, as well as their overall contribution to the research project, the intern may be invited to co-write an abstract or a short report for submission to a reputable conference publication (proceedings). In this case, the intern’s name may be included in the author list.​

Accommodation (not part of the internship)

Even though accommodation arrangements are not a part of the internship program, the intern may be accommodated by the appointed mentor in their house for the duration of the on-site component of the internship, only upon the mutual agreement of both the mentor and legal guardians.

Extension (not part of this internship):

Depending on the progress of the research itself alongside the long-term commitment in research displayed by the intern, exceptional intern(s) may be invited back to Ferrara to continue his/her research project for a longer term and potentially be offered the possibility of co-writing a full manuscript for submission to a peer-reviewed scientific journal publication.

Important Note:

  • The research internship program outlined above is tentative and subject to change, whereby the final agreement is to be determined between the mentor(s) and the intern student(s). It is the responsibility of both the mentor(s) and the intern student(s) to provide a finalized version of the internship curriculum, objectives and involved personnel, all of which is to be mutually agreed upon before the delivery to the TAP Education Foundation.

  • All information is for data record purposes only. TAP does not create or infer any express or implied warranty with any representation as to the accuracy, fitness for a particular purpose, non-infringement, reliability, security, timeliness or freedom from computer viruses in relation to all contents. The final internship curriculum is subject to change and in absolute discretion to the program provider.

About The Beautiful City of Ferrara

Former Research Interns Speaking About Their Real-Life Experience with LTTA Centre (Laboratory for Advanced Therapy Technologies) and The Cardiovascular Center

Paweł Głusak, a 6th-year medical student from the Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poznań, in Poland (Europe)

Through this program, you are exposed to the beauty of Italy and surrounding areas, with Ferrara being conveniently located, facilitating easy and affordable travel. At first, the research component seems daunting, but through comfortable communication and guided exposure, various novel topics, such as clonal hematopoiesis, will definitely pique your interest.

Tagwaa E.M.Babiker, a 4th Year Student from the University of Khartoum, Khartoum, in Sudan (Africa)

The lively city of Ferrara is ideal for independent exploration and presents a perfect opportunity to enjoy delicious Italian cuisine. The research project fosters a welcoming and all-inclusive environment, where interactions with a multi-disciplinary research team will allow you to benefit immensely in both a personal and professional capacity.

Clara Calazans, a 5th-year medical student from the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, in Brazil (South America)

Ferrara facilitates safe and easy travel, allowing you to readily enjoy the gorgeous scenery and divine tastes of a beautiful culture through this experience. The program provides a warm, functionally inclusive research encounter that allows you to develop a sense of confidence in the diverse and dynamic field of science.