The Laboratory deals with physiological research, using the knowledge and tools of molecular biology.
One of our major interests is the better understanding of mechanisms underlying vascular control in the fetus and the newborn in the period immediately following birth. These mechanisms are critical for the smooth transition from the intra- to the extra-uterine environment and they condition not only the well-being of the infant, but also any intervening therapeutic intervention.
Significantly, our line of research has already developed some therapeutic tools that are being adopted worldwide as a life-saving procedure. An additional importance of these studies comes from the recent realization that perinatal events may condition health and the natural history of disease in the adult. Closely allied to this area is research dealing with the placental vasculature and the control of coronary microcirculation in the adult. Work on the first topic is the necessary complement to current investigations on the feasibility of fetal surgery for the correction of certain cardiac malformations. On the other hand, knowledge of the control mechanisms in the coronary microvasculature is the premise for targeted therapies against cardiac ischemic disease.
Another area of research deals with the central mechanism of fever, the specific focus being on the modalities through which pathogens affect, directly or indirectly, the brain structures responsible for body temperature control. This reactive/adaptive change is a key component of defence reactions against infectious or inflammatory noxae.
The Laboratory also provides experimental models and specific knowhow on molecular biology techniques to external institutions. At present, the studies under this heading relate to the neural regulation of gastrointestinal motility and the function of the retina.