The Foundation for Celiac Disease FC and the Italian Society for Celiac Disease AIC are glad to inform you that the 2014 FC Call for Proposals is now closed.


AIC and FC are grateful to the Peer Reviewers for their high-expertise evaluation of the applicant projects, and their commitment on this task which is fundamental to sustain the best Italian Research on celiac disease and other gluten-related pathologies.


The FC Call for Proposals 2014 aimed at granting Italian research projects in the following topics:

- Celiac Disease
- Dermatitis Herpetiformis
- Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

The FC Call for Proposals 2014 accepted research projects of one year, two years or three years duration, including multicenter studies, carried out in public or private non-profit research institutions located in Italy (university, hospital or other research center).


The Grant does not exceed € 70,000 per year for each of the above durations.

The total funding available for the FC Call for Proposals 2014 is € 467,500.


The Peer Review

Applications underwent a peer review process that ensures a fair, independent and expert evaluation of their scientific quality.

For the evaluation of Applications, FC relies on the expertise of a panel of well-established international investigators working in institutes outside Italy. Applications are independently reviewed by three (3) reviewers with expertise in the specific area of the research plan.

Reviewer assignments are made in compliance with disclosure of conflict of interest: reviewers disclose any conflict of interest toward the PI and the project.

Reviewers are asked to separately evaluate the following aspects of each Project:


Triage for Scientific Competitiveness


Score Evaluation of the Project Proposal


In the first step the reviewers evaluate scientific competitiveness of the project proposals and rank them as STRONG or WEAK studies. Applications that received low priority were triaged out and did not enter the final ranking list.

The second step is made of a series of Evaluation Areas, each Evaluation Area has a weight and is in turn composed of different criteria. To each criterion the Reviewer assigns a score and a written comment.

Weighted Evaluation Areas

Scored Criteria

Project’s Purposes and Scientific Value of the Project

(80% weight)

-  Clearness of the project purpose

-  Improvement of basic/clinical comprehension of celiac disease and/or gluten related disorders stemming from this research

-  Design and tasks of the project: background, rationale, experimental design, methodologies

-  Preliminary data supporting the working hypothesis

-  Appropriateness of sample sizes

-  Methodological or conceptual innovation of the project

Feasibility of the Project

(20% weight)

-  Potential difficulties and limitations of the project, and their impact on the success of the proposal

-  PI’s expertise, qualification, past experience and accomplishments (IF, publications track record) directly relevant to the success of the proposal

-  Expertise of the research team


The Review evaluation allows for the establishment of a final ranking list.

After establishing a ranking of proposed projects, FC’s Board of Directors meets to decide on the allocation of funds to the most deserving projects. The ranking list and the financial availability of FC do determine the funding.

All Applicants of selected and not-selected projects are notified about the final decision with an official communication from FC.

For every project reviewed, FC’s Scientific Office draws up a document providing a clear and detailed summary of the selection process conducted, including comments written by the reviewers (which remain anonymous, of course). This is an important step because it attests to the system's transparency, and is an effective learning tool for the Applicant. In most cases, the criticism highlighted is constructive and contributes to the development of a new and improved project.






40 projects were received for 3 main topics:

celiac disease                              77% of submitted projects

dermatitis herpetiformis               8% of submitted projects

non-celiac gluten sensitivity         15% of submitted projects


18 Research Areas: from Clinics to Genetics, Proteomics, Biochemistry, Oncology, Nutrition, Drug Discovery and Inflammation


Geographical Distribution of Peer Reviewers:

EU:                             61,3%

USA:                           25,8%

Pther Countries:          12,9%


How the Reviewers evaluate the process of the FC Call:

Good:            85,7%

Excellent:      14,3%






The following projects were selected by FC for Grant 2014 funding upon a strict peer review procedure.


Celiac Disease – Genetics

Role of the gut microbiome in the celiac disease

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder and several factors concur with its insurgence. Everyone know that “gluten” is the triggering agent and that to bear genes coding for the HLA-DQ2 and/or –DQ8 molecules is a risk factor, but a lot of other concurring factors are not yet well known. As everybody knows the small intestine of the celiac patient is where most of the main pathological events happen, but it is good to remember that there  live millions of microbes, globally named “gut microbiome”. Usually they help towards our healthy status but, opposite, gut microbiome imbalance could have deleterious effects to intestinal or systemic levels, as already seen in other disorders. The research is aimed to characterize all the gut microbiome in celiac patients, to search for microbial alterations respect to not celiac subjects, to isolate bacterial strains altered in celiac patients and to evaluate their potential pathogenic features.


Lucia Sacchetti



Gluten Sensitivity – Clinical Trial

Wheat-sensitivity evaluated by double-blind placebo controlled method: risk for malnutrition, osteoporosis and associated autoimmune diseases

Non-celiac wheat sensitivity (NCWS) is a new and very poorly defined clinical entity. Some Authors consider it as “ a sister of CD”, some other as “psychosomatic” disorder with a market which addresses the patients towards a gluten-free diet.

Aims of the present project are to evaluate:

A) The existence of NCWS estimated during a 3-years period in patients with IBS-like clinical presentation

B) The frequency of malnutrition, osteoporosis, autoimmune associated diseases and oral mucosa lesions in NCWS patients

C) To search for mucosal immunolocal markers of NCWS

Experimental design: The double-blind placebo-controlled (DBPC) challenge method will be used to pose NCWS diagnosis. The following aspects will be evaluated: nutritional parameters, bone mineral density, frequency of positive serum antibodies and autoimmune diseases, assessment of oral soft and hard tissue lesions.

Histology and Cytokines studies on duodenal mucosa samples will be performed at the entry in the study.


Antonio Carroccio
Università di Palermo - Dipartimento Biomedico di Medicina Interna e Specialistica - Laboratori del Dipartimento, Palermo



Dermatitis Herpetiformis – Clinics

The development of dermatitis herpetiformis in celiac patients

Dermatitis herpetiformis is the specific cutaneous manifestation of celiac disease, and could be defined as the “celiac disease of the skin”. However, the factors leading to the development of dermatitis herpetiformis only in a subgroup of celiac patients are still unknown. To clarify this problem, in this study the pathogenetic mechanisms underlying the origin of dermatitis herpetiformis will be investigated.

In particular, the specificity of the T cells found both in the skin and the intestinal tract of the patients with dermatitis herpetiformis will be analyzed. This kind of study will allow to demonstrate whether the target antigen involved in the development of the disease could be tissutal transglutaminase, as in celiac disease, or a more “skin-oriented” one, that will drive to the occurrence of cutaneous manifestations.

Another main objective of the study is the characterization of the pattern of the immune response, investigating potential impairments in regulatory T cell populations or a more aggressive behaviour of effector T cells, including T helper 17 cells, leading to uncontrolled inflammation in the skin.


Marzia Caproni

Azienda Sanitaria di Firenze – Medicina Interna, Firenze



Celiac Disease – Immunology

Study of gene expression of HLA-DQ alleles associated to celiac disease in anti-gluten CD4+T cell immune response

HLA is the main genetic risk factor in celiac disease (CD) that is caused by an immune response to gluten protein of wheat by the intestinal CD4+ T lymphocytes. The strongest association is with HLA-DQ2.5 molecules expressed on the surface of antigen presenting cells (APC) that present immunogenic peptides of gluten and activate CD4+ T cells. The number of DQ2.5-gluten peptides complexes expressed by APC of patients defines the magnitude of activation and proliferation of specific intestinal CD4+ T cells and the risk to become ill. The HLA-DQ2.5 molecule is encoded by DQA1*05 and DQB1*02 alleles that patients carry in homozygosis or heterozygosis. We hypothesize that the efficacy of antigen presentation depends not only by DQA*05 and DQB*02 gene copy number, but is strictly correlated to their expression. In this project we plan to assess, on B-LCL and Dendritic Cells, the effective amount of each messenger and surface heterodimers and to investigate on the processing of CD-associated mRNAs. The results will be related to the functional aspect in order to clarify the factors determining the achievement of activation threshold of gluten-specific CD4+ T cells.



Giovanna Del Pozzo

Istituto di Genetica e Biofisica-CNR, Napoli