Chair: prof. Donatella Spinelli
The pre-requirement for the admission to the PhD program is the Graduate Level Degree. The admission selection is based on both the evaluation of admission requirements and the following colloquia. The program lasts three consecutive academic years. Doctoral students must attend the PhD program and carry out its planned study and research activities on a full-time basis. The PhD Degree is earned upon a positive evaluation of a final PhD thesis significantly contributing to scientific progress of a specific field. Research areas of the PhD program are described below. Details for each area about research methodologies and about its main faculty scholars also are indicated.
List of research topics and faculty scholars
1. Physical Exercise for Health (prof. Guidetti)
Evaluation methods of the performance components for wellness. Physical exercise for (primary, or secondary, or tertiary) disease prevention. Adapted physical activity. Postural disharmony and physical activity.
Methods: Laboratory testing with ergometers (treadmill, cycle ergometer) and metabolic systems (Fitmate, K4b2) and field testing for functional evaluation. Analysis of body posture with raster-stereography (Formetric 4D).
2. Functional Evaluation and Analysis of Sport Performance (prof. Tessitore)
The research focuses on theoretical and applied aspects of sport, exercise and ergonomics in the life course, with particular reference to their determinants, performance models, training methodology, and promulgation. Research themes include: 1) biological, motor, cognitive, technical and tactical aspects for the analysis to optimize performance and avoid overtraining; 2) training methods for health maintenance and improvement of athletes and the general population in relation to age, gender and activity level of the individual; 3) the evaluation of the sport development and principles. These research topics will identify the key factors for the performance and functional evaluations of different populations (athletes, women, old individuals, and children). Specific research themes in both controlled (laboratory) and ecological (field) conditions.
Methods. Laboratory and field multi-disciplinary research approaches, including individual, inter-individual, and environmental variables. Analysis of motor and technical-tactical performance models of official and simulated competitions, with particular reference to the physical/sport levels, as well as the gender and age of the individuals.
3. Exercise Physiology (prof. Felici, prof. Sacchetti)
Neuromuscular control and adaptation to exercise.. Modelling of neuromuscular control. Neuromechanics in sedentary subjects and top level athletes. Neuromuscular changes and overload in humans. Non-invasive assessment of muscle damage and repair. Exercise and diabetes. Exercise protocols and lipid metabolism. Physiology of cycling. Exercise and sports nutrition. Physiology of exercise training.
Methods: dynamometry, surface and needle electromyography, percutaneous nerve stimulation, calorimetry, motion analysis, posturography, physical activity monitoring, body composition, muscle biopsies.
4. Genetic Biology and Biochemistry of Movement (prof. Paronetto)
Cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying control, response and adaptation to movement, and their involvement in aging and neuromuscular diseases, such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Research methodologies involve both “in vivo” protocols on humans and animal models and “in vitro” neuronal and muscular cellular models. Specific competences are: a) “omics” of movement and movement-related diseases; b) co- and post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression, with specific attention to its modulation by signal transduction pathways; c) role of the redox homeostasis (antioxidant systems, redox signaling, oxidative stress response proteins) in the skeletal muscle biology and in the systemic and specific adaptation to exercise.
Methods: Primary and established cell cultures; DNA, RNA and protein extraction, purification and analysis (SDS PAGE, western blot analysis, quantitative RT-PCR); Cytofluorimetry; Conventional and Confocal microscopy (cytogenetic, immunohistochemistry; comet assay); Cloning; Expression and purification of recombinant proteins.
5. Endocrinology (prof. Crescioli, prof. Migliaccio)
Evaluation and characterization onto in vitro systems of cellular/molecular mechanisms and biomediators, potentially therapeutic targets, controlled by endocrine/immune system and involved in physical exercise- or diet-induced adaptation of specific target tissues (e.g., musculoskeletal and adipose tissues), with particular focus on wellbeing-health maintenance and prevention of chronic metabolic diseases (e.g., obesity and osteoporosis) and (auto)immune diseases (such as myositis).
Translational research development for further understanding the role/benefit of physical exercise on the regulation of hormonal (endocrine and/or paracrine), mechanical, immune and inflammatory mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of chronic metabolic diseases, e.g., obesity and osteoporosis, and autoimmune diseases associated with musculoskeletal function impairment, such as rheumatic disease.
Methods: cell cultures assessment and maintenance, nucleic acid and protein analysis, body composition analysis (PCR/qPCR, western blot, ELISA, Luminex multiplatform-based assays, immunofluorescence, agarose gel electrophoresis, immunoprecipitation, cloning, DEXA, BIA).
6. Sports Medicine (prof. Pigozzi)
Physiological mechanisms of adaptation to exercise, both hormonal and cellular, with particular regard to the maintenance of health and wellbeing. The promotion of health, individual well-being as well as improving the quality of life through an healthy lifestyle. Health issues related to the practice of sports activities, with particular reference to the prevention and therapy of pathological or paraphysiological conditions related to sport activities or a wrong lifestyle. The prevention of doping as well as behaviors potentially dangerous to health in sports. Next generation anti-doping research. The application of physical activity in primary and secondary prevention of chronic disorders. Quantitative assessment of neuromuscular strength, speed and power curve and electromyographic parameters.
Methods: Electrocardiography (basal, stress test, Holter), Echocardiography, Spirometry, Impedance monitoring, Telematic monitoring, Hematology, Application of growth factors, Isometric Dynamometry, Encoder, Electrogoniometry, Surface electromyography.
7. Didactics, Special Pedagogy and Educational Research (prof. Moliterni)
The pedagogical culture within the sport and exercise sciences in multidisciplinary perspective. The interaction between sport and educational sciences as core of experimental teaching and methodological research toward an inclusive implementation. The educational and pedagogical research in various institutional settings in synergy with the European and international research.
The training of school professionals (teachers, head teachers, technicians, educators) and the promotion of motor and sport-related activities in education and mediation processes.
The special educational needs and enhancing contexts. The playful and motor activities in relation to perception, recognition and acceptance of persons in situation of disability and marginality, in education processes. The corporeity and movement in the dimension of lifelong learning.
Creative processes and corporeal interactions as experimental variables inherent the development of inclusive dynamics in an educational project.
Methods: Methodologies of quantitative and qualitative educational research: Action research, structured observation, interviews, questionnaires, case study, life history, content analysis, didactics implementation of educational tools related to the expressive bodily activities and to the sport as integrated formative environment.
8. General Pedagogy (prof. Isidori)
Qualitative research methods in sport education; sport pedagogy; sport values; physical education teachers and sport coaches training; sport and cultural studies; tourism, sport and leisure education; Olympic studies; philosophy, epistemology and ethics of sport; physical activity and lifelong learning; analysis of developmental tasks and educational objectives that can be pursued through different physical activities (in particular the artistic and playful ones) in the various life cycles.
Methods: grounded theory; action research; case studies; observation; personal constructs; interviews; questionnaires; graphic-pictorial and/or narrative elaborations of the movement experience.
9. Bioengineering and Neuromechanics of Human Movement (prof. Camomilla, prof. Macaluso)
Advanced movement analysis methodologies and protocols, based on stereophotogrammetry or on wearable inertial sensors, to provide an accurate description of human movement and of the underlying mechanisms of motor activity in healthy and pathological conditions, during daily life activities, manual work, and in sports.
Motion capture. Soft computing techniques and modeling for high resolution movement analysis. Monitoring systems for health and wellbeing. Musculoskeletal modeling of human body in motion to assess motor function.
Gait analysis and motor capacity assessment in special populations. Assessment of motor competence in typically developing children and in movement disorders. Sport biomechanics for performance analysis and injury prevention. Ergonomics.
Neuromuscular control and adaptation to exercise in special populations (elderly, orthopedic and neurological patients). Neuromechanics applied to sport and rehabilitation. Motor control and postural adjustments in health and disease. Kinematics, kinetics and metabolic cost of human locomotion.
Methods: Stereophotogrammetry, dynamometry, electromyography, wearable inertial sensors, calorimetry, neuromuscular electrical stimulation.
10. Health and Sport Psychology (prof. Zelli)
Motivational, cognitive and emotional processes contributing to the scientific account of individual differences in sport experiences and performance according to well-grounded theoretical models in personality, social and sport psychology and to relevant contextual characteristics of the phenomena (e.g., individual and team sport disciplines). Motivational and cognitive processes implicated in sport “cheating”. Psychological models and mechanisms characterizing one’s initiation and adherence to programs of physical exercise.
Methods: Longitudinal research designs and assessment instruments ranging from “explicit” to “implicit” psychological measures to study the relations among attitudes, cognitive processes and behavioral outcomes.
11. Neuroscience of Human Movement and Sport (prof. Di Russo, prof. Spinelli)
Neural bases of human interaction with the environment (perceiving to act). Brain correlates of cognitive and motor processes (preparation, anticipation, perception, attention, execution, sensory feedback, error handling. Cognitive and behavioral benefits of physical exercise and brain markers of the effects of physical exercise in the life cycle and pathological conditions. Effects of sport on the athletes’ brain.
Methods: Electrophysiological brain measures: electroencephalogram (EEG) cortical event-related potentials (ERPs), brain rhythms, brain stimulation (TMS, tDCS). Psychophysical measures: thresholds, accuracy, response time. Brain imaging: magnetic resonance imaging (MRI, fMRI).
12. Public health - Epidemiology and biotechnologies (Prof. V. Romano Spica)
Physical activity and preventive strategies within different health systems. Global health issues related to sedentary life styles. Physical activity and health promotion: the role of the national health service. Microflora studies: environmental microbiology and human microbiota in sport. Communicable diseases and Legionellosis. Sport and vaccines. Safety and quality issues related to facilities for physical activity: sport events management, gyms, swimming pools and SPA. Hygiene in recreational waters: guidelines and innovation in surveillance, treatments, disinfection.
Methods: epidemiology and meta-analysis; classical microbiology: culture, serotyping; molecular microbiology: genotyping by Real-Time PCR, ARDRA, MLST; mfDNA analysis by Next Generation Sequencing and bioinformatics tools.