Oncology Reference Center
Dr.ssa Silvia Franceschi
The Oncology Reference Center of Aviano (CRO) opened in 1984 and was recognized in 1990 as a Scientific Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Healthcare (IRCCS) by the Italian Ministry of Health.
It is dedicated to cancer care and research in all phases: from prevention to diagnosis, treatment to rehabilitation care, having the patient and their family always at the center of its attention. CRO financial support is guaranteed by Friuli Venezia Giulia (FVG), the MdS and various competitive grants, particularly AIRC.
The clinic of the CRO includes innovative medical oncology treatments (precision medicine, immunotherapy, and autologous bone marrow transplantation), general, breast and gynecological surgery, and advanced radiotherapy, both curative and palliative. A Youth Area is dedicated to adolescents with cancer. In 2018, the CRO staff was 653 (including 109 physicians) and 90 fellows/contractors. Further, 11,200 patients visited, 2,955 new cases were diagnosed, and 7,321 patients treated, about half from outside the region.
Research, primarily clinical and translational, mainly concerns: 1) cancer genetics and biology, 2) epidemiology and prevention, 3) hemolymphopoietic neoplasms, 4) solid tumours, and 5) tumours associated with infectious agents. In 2018, the CRO published 268 peer-reviewed articles, whose 10% were in high-impact journals and organized 164 in-house refresher courses and 12 scientific conferences. The institute also manages the FVG Tumor Registry and a Biobank of approximately 170,000 serum and tissue samples from over 7,000 cancer patients and healthy subjects. The CRO Library assists both staff and patients and their families through numerous informative and educational initiatives.
Collaborations with the Universities of Trieste, Udine and other Universities make possible the presence at the CRO of an average of 30 trainees in medical oncology and other relevant disciplines and 30 Post-Doc Fellow. Young researchers can be housed in the adjacent campus, which hosts teaching facilities and the FVG Regional Ethics Committee. The institute pursues with conviction the sharing of knowledge and projects with national and international networks, particularly Alliance Against Cancer, OECI – Organization of European Cancer Institutes, BBMRI – Network of Italian Biobanks and IARC/WHO.
The CRO is always focused on innovation, including experimentation on new organizational and social health models. It has technological platforms with state-of-the-art equipment for clinical and research: multispectral cytofluorimetry/cell sorting, NGS sequencing, gene expression and microRNA analysis, epigenetics, microscopy and imaging techniques, pre-clinical in vivo and in vitro models, pharmacogenomics, nanomedicine, and spectroscopy. Also, well-equipped are imaging diagnostics (CT scanners, 3-T MR, PET-CT, SPECT-CT) and radiotherapy (IMRT, VMAT, Tomotherapy, IORT) that allow for more effective and less toxic treatment plans. The CRO is also gearing up for proton therapy and cellular therapies.
In 2018, 200 clinical-experimental protocols (profit and non-profit) were active in collaboration with pharmaceutical and diagnostic industries. Participation in POR programs activated 12 projects to create new products with small/medium-sized companies. Ideas from CRO scientists have led to 18 patents and four spin-offs. The Institute’s Technology Transfer Office is an active part of the NETVAL and ASTP-PROTON networks, bridges between public research and industry, and is supported by a grant from the Italian Patent and Trademark Office (UIBM-MISE). In 2017, the Campus CRO hosted the first edition of Technology Transfer School for researchers from the 52 IRCCS.
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