Program in Nutrition Science and Communication (SmartFood)

Quick Facts


Epidemiological and experimental evidence demonstrate that only a small proportion of cancers are inherited; environmental factors are the most important cause of genetic modification. These factors include food poisons such as mycotoxins or alcohol as well as smoking, infectious agents, radiation, drugs, industrial chemicals and pollutants. Thus, habits (including healthy diet) aimed to minimize the exposure to these carcinogens are known to protect from tumorigenic mutations. More recently some nutrients and physical activity have been demonstrated to prevent cancer and other aging associated disease by altering the functions of specific genes (belonging to longevity genetic pathways) and inhibiting fat accumulation that increases the cancer risk.
Essentially, these are good news. It means that a healthy environment can stop cancer before it starts. In this context nutrition represents an extraordinary tool to prevent cancer by reducing the intake of food dirties and increasing the consumption of beneficial “smart” foods. Validating healthy effects of food components and selecting foods enriched for such components represent the new target of nutrition research together with understanding the molecular mechanisms how diets work.
However healthy nutritional guidelines are partially known and poorly practiced, others (smart diet) could be established and implemented.

The aim of our program “SmartFood” is devoted to developing nutritional improvement at different levels taking advantage of our already existing network. The potential goals of the project include:
• Identify compounds in foods that interact with longevity genetic pathways (smart food compounds)
• Select those foods enriched for such compounds (smart foods)
• Validate the effects of “smart food compounds” and “smart foods” in disease prevention and cure, in model systems and humans (smart trial 1)
• Develop “smart food compounds” into dietary supplements or pharmaceutical drugs
• Promote good health through nutrition and the primary prevention of nutrition related illness in the population (science communication, societal interventions).

The potential benefits of the program include: increased focus on diet and life span, motivate positive behaviour change, increased awareness of risk of certain conditions, improve health and healthy ageing, focus on prevention, reduce health care costs, better understanding of the mechanism involved in disease susceptibility.

  • Components of the program

    Pier Paolo Di Fiore

    Nutrition-Research Program (Smartfood)

    Program Director

    Pier Giuseppe Pelicci


    Laboratory Activities coordinator

    Department of Experimental Oncology

    Marco Giorgio, PhD

    Department of Experimental Oncology
    Post Doc

    Veena Talagavadi, PhD

    Department of Experimental Oncology

    Mariangela Storto

    Department of Experimental Oncology

    Costanza Savino

    Dietary Intervention Trials and Communication coordinator

    Department of Experimental Oncology

    Lucilla Titta, PhD

    Department of Experimental Oncology and Division of Early Drug Development for Innovative Therapies Nutritionist, PhD student in Psychology, Health and Statistical Sciences curriculum Medical Statistics and Clinical Epidemiology

    Krizia Ferrini

    Department of Experimental Oncology Nutritionist, PhD student in Food Science

    Francesca Ghelfi

    Department of Experimental Oncology
    Undergraduate Student

    Federica Cavenago

  • Research activities

    SmartFood program consist of two research line:


    1. Laboratory activities
      The SmartFood basic research program is ongoing to search for plant foods that are active on longevity pathways in order to identify dietary mimetics of caloric restriction. The final goal is to select “smart” foods and thus to suggest the most effective diet for healthy aging and cancer prevention.
    2. Dietary Intervention Trials

      The endpoints of the SmartFood dietary intervention research area are trials in humans to validate the findings obtained in cellular or animal models.To investigate the effects of diets in humans, many issues impacting on the feasibility of advancing clinical evaluation, such as food component selection, bioavailability, mechanistic and safety properties, are suitably explored in small and relatively short-term studies in either healthy volunteers, individuals with pre-malignancies or cancer patients.

  • Educational activities

    Communication in nutrition science
    The SmartFood project is also aimed at promoting a healthy lifestyle and providing practical tools for adapting the information obtained through scientific research to the daily dietary habits of the individual. By basing each selection upon the results of scientific research, the Communication program is aimed at providing useful tools for making practical and well-informed dietary choices on a daily basis. All this in keeping with the philosophy that a healthy diet can also be varied, appetising, and well-suited to every age group and dietary requirement.
    Therefore, the program is spent in different area of communication: educational, editorial and web.
    Fondazione IEO-CCM web site

  • Publications

    Scientific Pubblications

    • Salamone F, Li Volti G, Titta L, Puzzo L, Barbagallo I, La Delia F, Zelber-Sagi S, Malaguarnera M, Pelicci PG, Giorgio M, Galvano F. Moro orange juice prevents fatty liver in mice. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2012 Aug 7
    • Titta L, Trinei M, Stendardo M, Berniakovich I, Petroni K, Tonelli C, Riso P, Porrini M, Minucci S, Pelicci PG, Rapisarda P, Recupero GR, Giorgio M. Blood orange juice inhibits fat accumulation in mice. International Journal of Obesity (London), 2009 Dec 22
    • Butelli E, Titta L, Giorgio M, Mock HP, Matros A, Peterek S, Schijlen EG, Hall RD, Bovy AG, Luo J, Martin C. Enrichment of tomato fruit with health-promoting anthocyanins by expression of select transcription factors. Nature Biotechnology, 2008 Nov 26

    Editorial Pubblication

    • Università di Milano, Dipartimento di Scienze Materno Infantili, “Manuale di ostetricia e ginecologia” per il Corso di Laurea in Medicina e
    • Chirurgia. stesura del capitolo “Alimentazione e Gravidanza” (2009) “Libertà di sapere, libertà di scegliere: Sana Alimentazione, una scelta di salute che allunga la vita” Edited by Fondazione Veronesi (2009)
    • “Libertà di sapere, libertà di scegliere: il Vegetarianismo” Edited by Fondazione Veronesi (2009)
    • Skira Editore, “La cucina si fa buona (2010), "Il talismano del mangiar sano" (2011)
    • Ponte alle Grazie Editore “9 Mesi di Ricette” (2013)
    • Mondadori Editore, “I cibi che aiutano a crescere” (2013)
    • Mondadori Editore (2013). “La dieta del digiuno” di Umberto Veronesi
    • Trenta Editore “Omega ME” (2013)



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