PhD programmes

The PhD programmes aim to train researchers by providing them with the tools and skills necessary to undertake highly qualified research activities in universities, public bodies and private entities.

You can access the PhD programme after having obtained a Master’s degree (or an equivalent foreign qualification) and having passed an annual public selection procedure.

The PhD programme lasts three or four years and ends with a public discussion and the achievement of the title of Ph.D (Philosophiae Doctor).

The University of Rome “Foro Italico” has activated a PhD programme within the Department of Movement, Human and Health Sciences, which coordinates its educational, cultural and interdisciplinary activities and manages joint activities.


General features

Title PhD in Human Movement and Sport Sciences
Cycle a.y. 2023-2024 XXXIX cycle
Research topics 14
Duration 3 years
No. of places available 14, of which:
– 8 financed with University scholarship
– 4 financed with PNRR grant D.M. 118
– 2 not funded
Admission procedures Passing a competition based on qualifications, research project and oral exam
Seat piazza Lauro de Bosis 15, I00135 Rome (italy)
Coordinator prof. Maria Francesca Piacentini
Ph. +39 06 36733.245
Secretariat Mr. Marco Di Giustino – mezzanine floor, room D203
Ph. +39 06 36733.552  e-mail:
Release of the call for applications Half of July
Deadline for submitting the applications for admission Early September
Method of submitting the applications for admission On line
Oral exam Second half of September
Publication of the final rankings October
Start The first of November


Research topics, supervisors and methods


Adapted Physical Activity and non-Communicable Diseases

Supervisor: Prof. Attilio Parisi

Research topics: the activities of the Exercise and Sport Sciences Laboratory involve the study of new physical activity protocols adapted to special populations. Current lines of research are aimed particularly at improving the quality of life of people affected by cancer, chronic kidney disease, multiple sclerosis, and osteoporosis. In order to evaluate the feasibility and the effectiveness of these protocols on fitness parameters and quality of life, patients are evaluated through specific functional tests and questionnaires.

Methods: upper limb dynamometry; body composition analysis; cardiopulmonary exercise testing; basal metabolic rate; non-invasive static and dynamic analysis of the spine and pelvis (Rasterstereography); Electrocardiogram (basal and under stress); tools to monitor and evaluate the training; field and laboratory measurement.


Biochemistry and Molecular Biology – Exercise Biochemistry

Supervisor: Prof. Guglielmo Duranti – Tutor: Prof. Roberta Ceci

Research topics: cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying muscle cell differentiation; redox status homeostasis both on “in vitro” studies through muscle cell models and “in vivo” in the response to physical exercise; polyamines in skeletal muscle: studies in physiological and atrophy conditions both “in vitro” and “in vivo” on murine models; effects of supplementation with natural antioxidants on energy metabolism and on the modulation of the redox state on “in vitro” and “in vivo” models; identification of natural protease inhibitors (Kunitz-like KTPI inhibitors) expressed by two species of myeloid insects, Lydus trimaculatus and Mylabris variabilis. Validation of their pharmacological use as anticoagulant agents and inhibitors of NETs (Neutrophil Extracellular Traps).

Methods: cell culture techniques; purification of PBMCs from blood samples; extraction, purification and analysis of proteins, DNA and RNA (electrophoresis, western blot, PCR); spectrophotometry; enzyme kinetics; chromatography (column and HPLC).


Bioengineering and Neuromechanics of Human Movement

Supervisor: prof. Giuseppe Vannozzi; Tutor: prof. Elena Bergamini, prof. Valentina Camomilla, prof. Andrea Macaluso

Research topics: advanced movement analysis methodologies and protocols, based on stereophotogrammetry or on wearable inertial sensors, to provide an accurate description of human movement and its underlying mechanisms in physiological and pathological conditions, during daily life activities, manual work, and in sport; motion capture; soft computing techniques and models for high resolution movement analysis; monitoring systems for health and well-being; musculoskeletal modeling of the human body in motion for the evaluation of motor function; gait analysis in special populations; assessment of motor competence in the typically developing child 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); euromechanics applied to sport and rehabilitation; postural adjustments in healthy and pathological subjects; kinematics, kinetics and metabolic cost of human locomotion; integrated neurophysiological approaches for the assessment of motor and cognitive interference in human walking.

Methods: stereophotogrammetry; dynamometry; electromyography; wearable inertial sensors; calorimetry; neuromuscular electrical stimulation; functional near-infrared spectroscopy


Biology and Genetics of Human Movement

Supervisor: prof. Daniela Caporossi, prof. Maria Paola Paronetto; Tutor: prof. Ivan Dimauro

Research topics: cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying control, response and adaptation to movement, and their involvement in aging and neuromuscular diseases, including 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: “omics” of movement and movement-related diseases; b) co- and post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression induced by signal transduction pathways, also considering alternative splicing changes.; 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.


Cognition and Action Neuroscience

Supervisor: prof. Francesco Di Russo; Tutor: prof. Sabrina Pitzalis

Research topics: neural bases of human action in interaction with the environment (perceive to act); brain correlates of cognitive and motor proactive processes (preparation, anticipation, prediction) and reactive functions (perception, attention, execution, sensory feedback, and error management); cognitive-behavioral benefits and brain markers of the physical exercise’ effects in the life cycle and in pathological conditions; brain plasticity and effects of sport on the athlete’s brain.

Methods: behavioral (response time and accuracy); brain electrophysiology, Electroencephalogram (EEG), Event-Related potentials (ERP), brain rhythms and localization of brain sources; neuroimaging, anatomical and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI, fMRI); combination between EEG/ERP and MRI/fMRI methodologies (spatiotemporal mapping of brain processes).



Supervisor: prof. Paolo Sgrò; Tutor: prof. Clara Crescioli

Research topics: evaluation and characterization of endocrine, immunologic and metabolic parameters involved in different physical exercise and sport-induced adaptation in specific endocrine systems (e.g. hypothalamic-pituitary-gonad, thyroid, adrenal axes) and target tissues (e.g., bone, muscle, adipose), in healthy subjects or in patients affected by endocrine and metabolic diseases; the investigation will be throughout different life stages and after taking substances (e.g. use and abuse of non-prohibited and prohibited substance, nutritional supplements); the aforementioned research, performed in collaboration with external research units, focuses on prevention of endocrine system alteration (e.g. reproductive system, metabolism) and maintenance and/or recovery of individual wellbeing-health in endocrine-metabolic disease; studies on the role of physical exercise in controlling/correcting hormonal (paracrine and endocrine) and inflammatory mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of endocrine-metabolic diseases related to sedentary lifestyle are included; translational research for evaluation and characterization of biomediators and molecular mechanisms (e.g., endocrine-metabolic, inflammatory, etc.) involved in physical exercise- and sport-induced adaptation and/or in the pathogenesis of sedentary-related diseases and skeletal-muscle diseases will be performed using experimental cellular models (e.g skeletal muscle cells).

Methods: cycle-ergometer; metabolimeter; body composition analysis (e.g. bioelectrical impedance analysis, adipometry); extraction, purification and analysis of DNA, RNA and proteins (e.g. agarose gel electrophoresis, western blot, PCR/qPCR); ELISA and Luminex multiplatform-based assays, immunofluorescence (BIOPLEX).


Exercise Physiology

Supervisor: prof. Ilenia Bazzucchi, prof. Francesco Felici, prof. Massimo Sacchetti; Tutor: prof. Paola Sbriccoli

Research topics: characterization of the activity of single motor units; motor control and neuromuscular adaptations to exercise in able-bodied individuals and special populations (the elderly, individuals with orthopedic, metabolic and neurological diseases); neuromuscular control models; neuromechanics and motor control in sedentary individuals and in elite athletes; neuromuscular changes due to overload in humans; non-invasive assessment of muscle damage and recovery; exercise and diabetes; exercise protocols and lipid metabolism; physiological and performance aspects of cycling; sports nutrition; physiology of training and endurance performance; ventilatory control during exercise; wearable devices for monitoring physiological parameters during physical activity and exercise.

Methods: dynamometry; surface and depth electromyography; high spatial resolution electromyography; percutaneous nerve stimulation; calorimetry; movement analysis; posturography; monitoring of physical activity; analysis of body composition; analysis of blood energy substrates; muscle biopsies.


Functional Evaluation and Analysis of Sport Performance

Supervisor: prof. Laura Capranica, prof. Maria Francesca Piacentini

Research topics: 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 factors enhancing sport practice. Research themes include: biological, motor, cognitive, technical and tactical aspects for the analysis to optimize performance and to prevent overtraining; training methods for health maintenance and improvement of athletes and of the general population in relation to the age, gender and activity level of the individual; the evaluation of the sport development and sport 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 projects could encompass 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 and during training sessions, with particular reference to the physical/sport levels, as well as the gender and age of the individuals.


General Pedagogy and Special Pedagogy

Supervisor: prof. Emanuele Isidori; Tutor: prof. Angela Magnanini, prof. A.G.A. Naccari

Research topics: qualitative and quantitative research methods in sport education (also for special populations); sport pedagogy; sport education and 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; bodily and expressive mediation education; 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; special pedagogy of sport; autism and physical and sporting activity; sports pedagogy aimed at people with disabilities; inclusive physical education and school; inclusive sport; education technologies and sports.

Methods: grounded theory; action research; case studies; observation; personal constructs; interviews; questionnaires; graphic-pictorial, choreographic and/or narrative elaborations of the movement experience.


Psychological and Social Processes in Sport Experience and Performance

Supervisor: prof. Arnaldo Zelli; Tutor: prof. Luca Mallia, prof. Francesca Romana Lenzi

Research topics: the core scientific focus of this area is on the motivational, cognitive and emotional processes that can characterize and intervene in sport experience and performance and also account for individual differences in these phenomena. This focus heavily relies on well-grounded theoretical models in personality psychology, social psychology and sport and exercise psychology. These core scientific interests also require a parallel attention to the broad sociological contexts in which sport experience and performance are embedded, as they also represent “events” that are the expression of a complex interplay among cultural, social, and interpersonal levels of analysis.

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.


Public Health, Epidemiology and Biotechnologies

Supervisor: prof. V. Romano Spica

Research topics: public health actions integrating physical activity into prevention, perspectives for health systems also considering the new health challenges induced by emerging pathogens or pandemics, including Covid-19; physical inactivity as a priority risk factor in Global Health and One Health perspectives; physical activity and health promotion: the role of the National Health Service; environmental microbiology and human microbiota in sport; legionellosis; infectious risks, vaccinations and sports activities; safety and quality issues related to sports facilities: gyms, swimming pools, spas, and big events in light of emerging or new risks, such as SARS-CoV-2; recreational water hygiene: guidelines and innovation for surveillance, treatments, disinfection, guidelines and consensus documents for sanitary management of swimming sports facilities; health policies in sports and physical activities.

Methods: epidemiology and meta-analysis; traditional microbiology: bacterial cultures, serotyping;
molecular microbiology: genotyping (Real Time PCR, ARDRA, MLST); mfDNA analysis by massive parallel sequencing and bioinformatics.


Sports and Applied Medical Technical Sciences

Supervisor: prof. Antonio Tessitore

The laboratory deals with the main issues related to sports and physical activity in subjects of all age groups, including those with different diseases and disabilities.

Research topics: monitoring and recovery strategies for training and competition, with particular reference to sports games, combat sports and rapid environmental adaptation; performance monitoring in difficult environmental conditions; performance analysis and match analysis; technology and innovation in sports and in the service of sports coaching; management and data analysis of training and competition; research in the field of medical techniques applied to environmental prevention, forensic and occupational medicine; molecular microbiology studies through next-generation sequencing technologies; epidemiology studies on injuries and diseases, with special reference to physical activity and sports.


Sport Economics and Management

Supervisor: prof. Francesca Vicentini

Research topics: business models in the sports sector; corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and value creation in the sports sector; management and organization of the sporting event; governance of non-profit sports companies; talent management; sports marketing; sports innovation management.
Methods: qualitative and quantitative analysis


Sports Medicine

Supervisor: prof. Paolo Borrione; Tutor: prof. Chiara Fossati

Research topics: physiological mechanisms of adaptation to exercise, both hormonal and cellular, with particular regard to the maintenance of health and wellbeing; 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 para-physiological conditions related to sport activities or a wrong lifestyle; trans-thoracic echocardiogram and functional assessment of athletes for the screening of heart conditions related to sudden cardiac death; the prevention of doping as well as behaviors potentially dangerous to health in sports; next generation anti-doping research; physical activity in primary and secondary prevention of chronic disorders; the role of physical exercise in musculoskeletal system pathologies; the effects of physical exercise in the elderly and its role in successful aging; physical exercise, brain aging and neurodegenerative diseases; oxidative stress and physical exercise.

Methods: electrocardiography (basal, stress test, 24-hour Holter monitoring); trans-thoracic echocardiography; spirometry; impedance monitoring; telematic monitoring; hematology; application of growth factors; isometric dynamometry; cognitive screening.

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Pubblicato il:

25 Aprile 2024

Aggiornato il:

25 Aprile 2024