In Conversation with
Good afternoon Nicola, thank you for joining me today. Just so everyone knows, you’re part of the ACT Research Network and you’re working at the University of Palermo. You work with Professor Mario Barbagallo and you’re working with Ligia as well. So, I would like first of all, if you could provide some background context about why you chose to study Geriatrics, what made you want to go into this field?
So particularly, I am really interested in problems regarding older adults, older people for a very long time. And this sort of, I don’t how to call, sensibility regarding this problem raises step by step during my training in Medicine. I did a degree in Medicine first, and after that I did a specialisation in Geriatrics or Geriatric Medicine, but in Italy it’s completely separated from other, for example internal Medicine. But every day there is really sort of worry sometimes but it’s full of expectations from one side and happiness from the other side.
I can imagine, yes. So which are your main research interests?
So, I am mainly an epidemiologist, I am an expert in epidemiology. My most important areas of research start from meta research regarding the systematic and methodologies also from a methodological point of view. But I am really interested in a methodological and particularly sarcopenia and frailty practically.
And any projects you’re involved in right now? Not related to the ACT Assessment, which we will be going to in a second, but any main projects that you have right now?
We are conducting really a lot of projects. And only to cite one that regards the importance of infectious disease on quality of life in older people in hospital and we have some more little projects at the University of Palermo. For example the importance of Geriatric Assessment in people, in older people affected by COVID-19.
And your samples, are they just based in Palermo or do you conduct them on a national level or an international level?
No, you know so practically I have some studies that are mainly based in Palermo but others that are based in national and international context as well.
So, in relation to the ACT Assessment you’ve just finalised the translation of this tool into Italian and you are, alongside this, conducting population studies as well. Could you tell us a bit about these projects? What they are about and what stage you are in?
Practically I translated some weeks ago the terms of ACT, also because a lot of questions are based under the common tools of daily use in our clinical practice. It was our easy no, but easy. And regarding the population studies, practically now, we should start with studies for example regarding the importance of sarcopenia in cardiovascular disease in a lot of people, not only in Palermo but in Italy. We’re waiting for economic support, as you know. It’s a problem.
So, once you get the economic support for this you will be using the ACT Assessment tool in order to conduct this project?
And you said you were doing it on a national level? Are you doing it in collaboration with other universities? What members will be involved in this?
So we’re planning on involving at least two partners, maybe another who will be national, particularly in the south of Italy. You know, Michele, in Italy you ask for economic support but you don’t know what happens. And then in how many months, years sometimes, you can get the money. This is a common problem in Italy unfortunately, you know in other countries, but in Italy it’s crazy. But this is our idea.
Yeah I understand. So are you trying to get the economic support from the University or is it external funding from somewhere else?
It’s external funding. So in Italy we don’t have any university funding for research despite some little amounts so we ask from particularly from our Ministry of University and Research to support this. We try, we try and see. I don’t know.
Well, best of luck. Let’s hope you do get the economic support soon. So, I’m aware that you still haven’t started this, but do you have any future plans to be able to not just demonstrate the validity of this tool but to be able to scale it onto a national – all over Italy – or an international level?
No, absolutely no.
Okay, well, we’ll just leave that for the future then. Let’s just focus on this project first. That was a very good overview, thank you very much. Is there anything you would like to add? About your career, maybe advice for anyone who wants to go into the field of Geriatrics?
No, thank you. Thank you for this opportunity. No, I don’t have anything to add. Thank you for this opportunity. Thank you so much.
Thank you so much for your time. Have a nice day Nicola.
You too. Take care and see you soon!
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