NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL (CNR) INSTITUTE OF CLINICAL PHYSIOLOGY (IFC) – Pisa
Activity. The mission of IFC has remained unswerving since its foundation in 1968 and can be summarized in the formula “Innovation For better patient Care”. The Institute’s main focus is cardiovascular disease, with special emphasis on atherosclerosis and heart failure, and benefits from a multidisciplinary approach organized into four main areas of knowledge and equipped with state-of-the-art technological resources. These include molecular, cellular and experimental medicine (involving MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry and confocal microscopy for genomic and proteomic studies, a biobank and major animal facility for experimental cardiology, run jointly with the University of Pisa and the Sant’Anna School, with access to different animal models ranging from transgenic mice to atherosclerotic and heart-failure pigs, as well as dedicated imaging facilities including micro-PET and micro-CT); technosciences (information communication technology-biosensors-nanotechnology); clinical cardiovascular and integrative physiology and pathophysiology (top-level clinical imaging technology, including MRI, 64-slice CT, PET, PET-CT, Real-Time 3D echo, and digital radiology); and environmental, molecular, social and clinical epidemiology. Total IFC personnel comprises 65 tenured researchers (10 research directors, 30 senior scientist/technologists, 25 researchers), 18 physicians and 11 biologists, the remaining being engineers, chemists, physicists, computer scientists and mathematicians. IFC headquarters is located on the CNR Research Campus in Pisa. Two-thirds of the institute’s personnel work there, with the rest at its regional branches in Massa, Milan, Rome, Lecce and Siena.
Clinical activity is integrated into the daily working life of our staff and provides IFC with unrestricted access to a wide spectrum of adult and pediatric cardiovascular diseases; however, it is also a major administrative and organizational burden. In the years 2003-2007, IFC clinical activity was conducted through a convention with the Region of Tuscany (CREAS-IFC); this led to a progressive increase in healthcare volume indices, totalling 1,000 major (adult and pediatric) cardiac surgery operations and 4,500 hospital admissions per year (official data of Management and Sanità of the Scuola Sant’Anna for the Region of Tuscany, November 2008). However, most research personnel paid a heavy price; in the years 2003-2007 at least 50% of their work week was devoted to their clinical responsibilities. This situation led CNR to a landmark administrative move: to found (in collaboration with the Region of Tuscany) the Fondazione Gabriele Monasterio (FGM), which took over IFC clinical activities on November 1, 2007. In administrative terms, in the pre-FGM years (2002-2007) it became mandatory to separate IFC research personnel from clinically-oriented personnel, specifically engaged by IFC to provide clinical care in our tertiary care cardiovascular referral center.