The Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS), located in Rome, is the leading technical and scientific public body of the Italian National Health Service. Its activities include research, control, training and consultation in the interest of public health protection.
Research and Trial
The Institute conducts scientific research in a wide variety of fields, from cutting-edge molecular and genetic research to population-based studies of risk factors for disease and disability. Research priorities are based on those set forth in the National Health Plan. The Institute is also involved in several major clinical trials, which are frequently conducted in cooperation with the Scientific Institutes for Research and Care (IRCCS) network and Hospitals.
Inspection, Monitoring and Certification
An important activity of the Institute, which is mandated by the Minister of Health or the Regions, is certification of the chemical and biological purity of drugs and vaccines, as well as inspection and quality control of medical and diagnostic devices and equipment, food products and packaging. It monitors trends in disease, mortality and other health factors and provides technical support for health-related environmental surveys and for investigations of epidemics and other public health problems at national, regional and local level. It also supervises the laboratories engaged in the testing of prohibited substances in sport and the national veterinary institutes. Finally, it has an important role in monitoring and coordinating blood transfusion services and plasma production in Italy.
Training and Scientific Meetings
The Institute plans, implements and evaluates training activities in a wide variety of areas, with courses designed to address the needs of the National Health Service. It develops and tests innovative training methods, including web-based distance learning. Training is provided for various categories of professionals; methods range from short courses and hands-on workshops to more structured and formal courses at national and international level. The topics addressed include health service management and evaluation, epidemiology and biostatistics, training methods, laboratory techniques, diseases control and priority public health issues, and health promotion. The Institute also organises congresses, conferences, workshops and seminars for national and international participants on fundamental public health issues linked to its institutional activities and research. These events are often organised in cooperation with international organisations such as the European Union, specialised UN Agencies and non-governmental organisations with which the Institute maintains close relations.
Stefano Fais, Department of Drug Research and Evaluation.
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