FUNDED PROJECTS 2015

              TOTAL FUNDING € 400,000

The Foundation for Celiac Disease FC and the Italian Society for Celiac Disease AIC are glad to inform you that the 2015 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 2015 aimed at granting Italian research projects in the following topics:

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

The FC Call for Proposals 2015 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 € 400,000.

The Peer Review and the Discussion Session

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 ranking list.

The apical projects in the ranking list are discussed by the Reviewers attending a plenary Discussion Session, in order to reconsider the scores given to the top projects in an open discussion. This step, which is new in the FC Call for Proposals procedure, is common to many other Agencies financing the scientific research, both in Italy (AIRC; Telethon) and abroad, and guarantees for complete fairness and efficacy of the evaluations.

The FC’s Board of Directors meets upon the Reviewers Discussion Session and accordingly decides on the allocation of funds. Both the Discussion Session 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 of course remain anonymous). This is an important step because it attests to the system's transparency, and is an effective learning tool for the Applicants. In most cases, the criticism highlighted is constructive and contributes to the development of a new and improved project.



48 projects were received for 3 main topics:

-     celiac disease

-     dermatitis herpetiformis

-     non-celiac gluten sensitivity

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

32 projects evaluated by the Reviewers, and 20 projects entered the ranking list



The following projects were selected by FC for Grant 2015 funding upon a strict peer review procedure.

Celiac Disease – Clinics

Vitamin D and Celiac Disease (VitaCeD)

3-years Project

Celiac Disease (CD) may induce bone frailty possibly affecting intestinal absorption, plasma levels of vitamin D (vitD) and minerals. Low vitD levels classically associates with altered mineral metabolism and, theoretically, with immunologic/inflammatory dys-reactivity. In CD, some evidences point to low 25(OH)vitD but data are missing for 1,25(OH2)vitD. Data are missing also on in-vitro effects of 1,25(OH2)vitD on intestinal mucosa. Intestinal effects may differ for 25(OH)vitD and for 1,25(OH2)vitD given that 1,25(OH2)vitD activity is much higher than 25(OH)vitD activity.

Aim: to assess in CD patients plasma levels of VitDs and bone characteristics. Seconday aim is to evaluate VitDs effect on intestinal mucosa challenged with gliadin extracts.

Experimental design:

1. In-vivo study  a) Evaluation of the plasma levels of 25(OH)vitD and 1,25(OH2)vitD, indices of mineral metabolism and PTH in 100 celiac patients b) Analysis of bone characteristics by Pqct. 

2. In-vitro study culture of intestinal biopsies of 10 untreated and 10 treated CD evaluated for the effects of VitDs  on immunologic events upon gliadin challenge.



Carolina Ciacci

Università di Salerno, Medicina e Chirurgia, Università Campus, Baronissi, Salerno


Celiac disease - Inflammation

Study of the microbiota composition in adult celiac disease

2-years Project

The human gut microbiota is a complex ecosystem having a symbiotic relationship with the host. Recently, a reduced bacterial diversity, termed dysbiosis, has been suggested to contribute in celiac disease (CD) pathogenesis and clinical features.

The aims of the present study are to investigate the microbiota composition in adult CD in comparison with non-CD subjects, and whether the eventual dysbiosis anticipates or follows the development of enteropathy.

A total of 60 patients (10 potential, 20 active, 20 treated, 10 complicated) and 20 controls will be enrolled. The global bacterial composition will be analyzed through Next Generation Sequencing technologies and subsequent bioinformatic analysis performed on salivary, fecal and duodenal mucosal samples. The search for a possible correlation between the altered microbial composition with the degree of mucosal atrophy and the gluten-free diet will be also performed. Finally, we investigate the difference between potential, active, treated and complicated conditions, while analyzing the agreement among the salivary, mucosal and fecal microbiota composition.


Rachele Ciccocioppo

Dipartimento di Medicina Interna – Laboratorio di Gastroenterologia; IRCCS Fondazione Policlinico San Matteo, Università di Pavia, Pavia


Celiac Disease - Immunology

Pathogenic Role of mTOR Kinase Cascade in Celiac Disease

3-years Project

Celiac disease (CD)-associated mucosal damage is mediated by gluten-driven inflammatory response that is characterized by excessive activation of effector T cells and macrophages and enhanced production of cytokines.
The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) controls activation and activity of multiple cell types, including T cells and macrophages, thereby promoting induction of pathogenic cytokines. Therefore, we hypothesized that hyperactivity of mTOR pathway can make a valid contribution to CD pathogenesis.
This project is aimed to determine the level of activity of mTOR pathway in CD, to investigate factors/mechanisms involved in the mTOR activity dysregulation and to ascertain whether mTOR sustains gluten-driven immunoreactivity within the intestinal mucosa of CD patients. We feel that data of the proposed studies will help dissect mechanisms underlying tissue damage in this disorder.


Giovanni Monteleone

Università di Roma Tor Vergata, Dipartimento Medicina dei Sistemi – Gastroenterologia, Roma