The Tempo of Cancer

08 December 2017

Chi Van Dang, Director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research and a leading cancer researcher based at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia will give the opening lecture of the PhD Programme of the University of Pavia on Monday the 11th of December in Aula Magna (Strada Nuova) at 10.30.  The lecture, entitled Convergence of Circadian Clock and Cancer: Time as an Inconvenient Truth, will tackle a new area in cancer research that may greatly extend our understanding of the disease.  The poster of the lecture can downloaded here and all College students of Biology, Biotechnology and Medicine are strongly encouraged to attend.  Chi Van Dang will be a guest of the College during his stay in Pavia.

Cancer metabolism as a field of research was founded almost 100 years ago by Otto Warburg, who described the propensity for cancers to convert glucose to lactate despite the presence of oxygen, which in yeast diminishes glycolytic metabolism known as the Pasteur effect. In the past 20 years, the resurgence of interest in cancer metabolism provided significant insights into processes involved in maintenance metabolism of non-proliferating cells and proliferative metabolism, which is regulated by proto-oncogenes and tumor suppressors in normal proliferating cells. In cancer cells, depending on the driving oncogenic event, metabolism is re-wired for nutrient import, redox homeostasis, protein quality control, and biosynthesis to support cell growth and division. In general, resting cells rely on oxidative metabolism, while proliferating cells rewire metabolism toward glycolysis, which favors many biosynthetic pathways for proliferation. Oncogenes such as MYC, BRAF, KRAS, and PI3K have been documented to rewire metabolism in favor of proliferation. These cell intrinsic mechanisms, however, are insufficient to drive tumorigenesis because immune surveillance continuously seeks to destroy neo-antigenic tumor cells. In this regard, evasion of cancer cells from immunity involves checkpoints that blunt cytotoxic T cells, which are also attenuated by the metabolic tumor microenvironment, which is rich in immuno-modulating metabolites such as lactate, 2-hydroxyglutarate, kyneurenine, and the proton (low pH). As such, a full understanding of tumor metabolism requires an appreciation of the convergence of cancer cell intrinsic metabolism and that of the tumor microenvironment including stromal and immune cells.

Chi Van Dang oversees the execution of Ludwig’s scientific strategy, with a special focus on the operations and staffing of the Lausanne, Oxford and San Diego Branches of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. He also manages the alignment of their efforts with those of the six independent Ludwig Centers across the US to further cultivate collaboration within Ludwig’s global research community. As a researcher, Chi Van Dang is best known for his work on the molecular signaling pathways and mechanisms that govern the unusual metabolism of cancer cells, which require vast quantities of energy and molecular building blocks to sustain proliferation. Chi Van Dang's laboratory was the first to show that a master regulator of gene expression named MYC—a gene whose mutation or aberrant expression is associated with many types of cancer—alters the utilization of a key sugar in cancer cells. This body of work bolstered the hypothesis that cancer cells can become addicted to their reengineered metabolic signaling and that disrupting these pathways could be a powerful approach to treating cancer. Chi Van Dang currently leads a Ludwig laboratory housed at The Wistar Institute in Philadelphia. Prior to joining Ludwig, he served as Director of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, where he launched a series of Translational Centers of Excellence to develop novel interventions for various cancers. He began his career in medicine and research at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he was Director of the Division of Hematology and eventually became the Johns Hopkins Family Professor in Oncology Research, the Vice Dean for Research and Director of the Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering. He has authored over 250 scientific and medical articles, book chapters and two books and am a member of the National Academy of Medicine (Institute of Medicine), American Academy of Arts & Sciences and chair the National Cancer Institute’s Board of Scientific Advisors.

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New students' restaurant

04 December 2017

A first class students' restaurant will open tomorrow Tuesday the 5th of December 2017 in via A Bassi, opposite the Department of Physics.  The new restaurant, the result of a project led by EDiSU and carried out in close coordination with the University, will provide a crucial service to undergraduates and postgraduates who study at the Departments located in via T Taramelli, C Forlanini and A Bassi (Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Physics, Biochemistry, Physiology, Anatomy, Genetics, Pathology and Forensic Medicine) and to the students of nearby Collegio C Golgi and A Volta.

The new restaurant represents an extensive refurbishment of an earlier facility and provides both the excellent food that students may expect in this part of the world as well as modern and high-quality furniture and logistics.  

College students are warmly invited to attend the opening ceremony tomorrow (12.00 noon) led by EDiSU President P Benazzo, EDiSU Finance Director C Grignani and the Chancellor of the University F Rugge, and make regular use of the new facility.






















Nanosensors & Medicine

27 November 2017

G Longo, a scientist at the CNR Institute for the Institute for the Structure of Matter in Rome will give a seminar at 2.00 pm at the Unit of Immunology and General Pathology of the Department of Medicine (9, via A Ferrata).  The seminar is entitled Nanomechanical sensors to study at the nanoscale biomedical challenges and will describe major advances in the field of nanosensor and their applications to biologica and medical problems.

The poster can be found here, the abstract of the seminar can be found here.

All College students, and in particular students in Medicine, Biotechnology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Engineering are welcome to attend. 





















EDiSU Welcome Day

27 November 2017

EDiSU will hold its traditional, annual welcome day tomorrow in the College lecture theatre at 6.30 pm. 

The event will involve speeches by F Rugge, University Chancellor,  P Benazzo, EDiSU President, and S Pezzini, a post-doctoral fellow at Radboud University in Holland and previously a student in one of the EDiSU College. The poster of the event can be found here.

The speeches will be followed by a reception. All students are welcome to attend.  Attendance by freshers is compulsory.





















VSU Committee

17 November 2017

College students have elected the new Executive Committee of the Volta Students' Union (VSU).  Only six candidates stood for election and a total of 60 students voted (down from > 90 in October 2016). 

The students elected to the Committee are: Paride Maddalena, Monica Passanante, Lucia Fruga, Valentina Astesana, Thanh Hang Bui and Daniele Susca. Paride Maddalena secured the highest number of votes and will act as President of the VSU Committee for 2017/18.

The College wishes to thank the students who made themselves available for serving in the Committee.





















Language Courses

16 November 2017

The much awaited College language Courses will take off next week and will involve nearly hundred students: half studying English, half studying French or German. 

Two English Courses (B2 and C1) will be delivered by an external teacher appointed by EDiSU and were expected to start on Wednesday the 22nd of November.  We have now received a different communication from EDiSU stating that Courses will start next week and will involve lessons on two different days of the week.  This schedule is incompatible with the programme of supervisions and the College will contact EDiSU once more, solve the issue and confirm final arrangements to students. The English classes will take place in Seminar Room 2 (level 2, North wing) at 5.00 pm (B2 class) and 7.00 pm (C1 class).

The French Course, delivered by College member Ingrid R Ouandji, will start on Wednesday the 22nd of November at 5.00 pm in Seminar Room 3 (level 3, North wing).

The German Course, delivered by College member Claudio Neidhoefer, will start on Wednesday the 22nd of November at 8.00 pm in Seminar Room 3 (level 3, North wing).

Students enrolled in the English Courses have been informed of their class assignment. Students who have enrolled in the French and German Courses will be contacted shortly by Ingrid R Ouandji and Claudio Neidhoefer respectively in order to arrange their entrance test.























16 November 2017

Monday the 20th of November will see the start of the College supervisions (also known as tutorials). College supervisions are a crucial asset for the academic development and career of the students of Volta. College has put forward proposals for 16 supervisions, of which the majority are certain, a few are potential and will depend on the enrolment of external students, as the number of Volta students in those groups is limited.  The involvement of external students in College teaching is a policy that the University government has strongly advocated and that Collegio Volta is keen to implement.

Supervisors will contact their students' groups shortly in order to seek confirmation of attendance and extend enrolment where necessary.

The bulk of Volta supervisions are directed to Maths, Physics and Chemistry subjects (10 supervisions in total). The other ones target Biochemistry and Physiology. The majority of this teaching is directed to yr 1 students, the remainder targets selected yr 2 courses and subjects.

Students enrolled in courses for which supervisions are offered have a duty to attend at least one supervision (24 hours in total) during the year although College expects that, where students have the opportunity to attend more than one supervision, they will take full advantage of this.  Students need to fill in their personal diary with details of the supervisions attended and the list of topics. These are available from the supervisors and on the College web pages (Undergraduate Teaching).

A brief list of the supervisions offered by Volta in 2017/18 is on display on the noticeboard near the College office. The full list of College supervisions for the year 2017/18 can be found here. An email will be sent shortly to all students attending courses for which supervisions are offered.





















Study Plans

15 November 2017

College invites its students enrolled in undergraduate courses and in MSc courses (so called lauree magistrali) to submit their study plan for 2017/18. Study plans are very important tools that enable College to check if students move in the right direction or otherwise (see Fig).

Freshers (students who joined College in September/October 2017)
These students need to pdf print their study plan from Esse 3 in order to enable College to enter the data in the College database and submit to the College Director (see an example of a study plan here).  They also need to indicate which exams they are planning to enter in February 2018. The College Director will meet freshers individually in order to discuss and review each study plan.

Students who have been in residence for one or more years
These students also need to submit their study plan which will provide a career update and confirmation of the extra credits gained in September. They also need to indicate which exams they plan to enter in February 2018.




















German Course

22 October 2017

Collegio Volta is offering a single level German Course aimed at DSH1/DSH2 level, the level required required for access to Erasmus scheme.  Interested students are requested to confirm their willingness to enrol by writing to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., a College student and a native German speaker who will teach the Course, before the 27th of October.  The Course will be free (no enrolment fee).

C Neiddhöfer will arrange online placement tests for the students enrolling in the Course during the 1st week of November. The Course will involve 2 hours of teaching a week either on Monday or Wednesday for 20 weeks (40 hours in total). It will start in week beginning on Monday the 13th of November and will run until the end of April with breaks for: Christmas (2 weeks), February examinations (3 weeks) and Easter (1 week).

Further information about German teaching can be found on the College web page in the relevant page of the section on Language Studies and in the further page of the section on College Courses.


















English Courses

22 October 2017

Collegio Volta is inviting students interested in the College English Courses to state their interest by sending an email to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before Friday the 27th of October. The English Courses are supported by EDiSU, are run by qualified teachers provided by a local organisation and, for the first time, they will be free (no enrolment fee).

The College will offer Courses at two levels in the B1, B2 and C1 range and the final choice of the levels taught will depend on the results of placement tests of the students enrolled.  Placement tests are paid by College and will be carried out in the 1st week of November on the University of Oxford language server.  College does not offer C2 English because a C1 level is sufficient for gaining access to postgraduate Courses at top British and US Universities and for securing competitive graduate positions in the job market.

The Courses will involve 2 hours of teaching a week either on Monday or Wednesday for 20 weeks (40 hours in total). They will start in week beginning on Monday the 13th of November and will run until the end of April with breaks for: Christmas (2 weeks), February examinations (3 weeks) and Easter (1 week).

Further information about German teaching can be found on the College web page in the relevant page of the section on Language Studies and in this further page of the section on College Courses.









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