The Ramazzini Institute

Who are The Ramazzini Institute?

The Ramazzini Institute (RI) is an independent, non-profit cooperative of more than 27,000 associates, dedicated to the promotion of scientific research for the prevention of cancer. The activities of the RI focus primarily on the experimental identification and quantification of carcinogenic risks and on the evaluation of the efficacy and safety of drug therapies and active ingredients that may be used to prevent the development and/or progression of cancer. The RI manages the Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Center (CMCRC) in the province of Bologna, Italy, where one of the world’s largest and longest existing programs of carcinogenicity bioassays is conducted.

The CMCRC was renamed in 2005 in honor of its founder, the late Professor Cesare Maltoni (1930-2001). Research has been underway since 1970 in the CMCRC’s 10,000 m2 of laboratories, uniquely situated in the Castle of Bentivoglio. At the CMCRC, studies have been conducted on more than 200 compounds present in the industrial and the general environment. Substances demonstrated to be carcinogenic include: vinyl chloride, benzene, formaldehyde, trichlorethylene, fuels and their components and additives, pesticides and artificial sweeteners. Results of CMCRC studies have provided the scientific basis for lowering exposure levels to various agents present in work-places and in the general environment.

The Ramazzini methodology is characterized by systematic and integrated project design, consistency over time, and a public health oriented approach. Agents are selected for study on the basis of their potential diffusion and on the adequacy of existing experimental and epidemiological evidence.

The Ramazzini study design closely mirrors the human condition, in which persons may be exposed to agents in all phases of life for varying lengths of time. A distinctive characteristic of most Ramazzini carcinogenicity studies is that rodents are treated from prenatal life and kept under observation until natural death or at least 130 weeks of age. This lifespan protocol is in contrast with most laboratories where rodents are treated starting from adulthood and sacrificed at 110 weeks of age (representing about 2/3 of the lifespan) and corresponding to 60-65 years in humans. This practice means that the researchers miss a significant proportion of cancers induced by early exposure during pregnancy and that might show up in old age.

Examples of Ramazzini Institute’s Groundbreaking Results

Who Is Involved in the Study?

The study has been organized and will be completed and published by the Ramazzini Institute alongside other independent institutions in Europe and the United States.

Dr Fiorella Belpoggi: Director of the Study

“Whatever the outcome of the study,” Belpoggi says, “IARC, EFSA and the EPA will have solid independent results on which to base a proper risk assessment.”

Fiorella Belpoggi, PhD, FIATP, is the Director and Chief of Pathology of the Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Centre of the Ramazzini Institute (Bentivoglio, Italy), where she has been working since 1981. She founded the RI Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) test site, to conduct regulatory studies according to EU/REACH chemical regulations, following international standard protocols, set by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Over the past five years Dr.Belpoggi has also been invited as an expert to meetings on the evaluation and safety of chemicals at the European Parliament in Brussels, at the EU DG-Sanco in Brussels, at the World Health Organization (WHO). She has also been invited as an expert for the development and validation of endocrine disrupting chemicals testing, organized by the European Commission in Brussels.

Dr Belpoggi holds a degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Bologna, Italy (1975); she completed a three-year postgraduate training at the Institute of Human Pathological Anatomy and Histology of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Bologna, Italy (1976-1980), which qualified her to enter the Italian National Register of Doctors in Biological Sciences. As a Visiting Scientist she also completed post-doctoral studies on the classification of human lymphomas/leukemias at the Pathology Institute of Kiel, Germany (1980), and on the relation between cervical cancer and papilloma virus in women at the International Agency for Research on Cancer in Lyon, France (1987). In 1992 she was nominated as a Fellow of the Collegium Ramazzini and currently serves as a member of the Executive Council.

Dr Belpoggi has authored more than 100 publications and she served as lecturer of Industrial and Environmental Carcinogenesis at the University of Turin, Bologna and Urbino in Italy. She represented the Ramazzini Institute on the Faculty Council of Veterinary Sciences at the University of Padua, Italy and manages the Institute’s institutional relationship with the U.S. National Toxicology Program of the NIEHS, USA. Dr Belpoggi was the 2007 recipient of the Ramazzini Award, conferred each year by the Mayor of Carpi, Italy to scientists deemed by the Collegium Ramazzini to have made outstanding contributions to furthering the aims of Bernardino Ramazzini in safeguarding public health. Dr Belpoggi was selected for different honors in Italy in recognition for her work in defense of environmental and occupational health. She is a Fellow of the International Academy of Toxicologic Pathology.