Chemistry

  • Head office: Università di Ferrara
  • Internationalisation: an agreement between Università di Ferrara and University of Wroclaw (Wroclaw, Poland) is established for an International Joint PhD programme.
  • Final Ph.D title: Ph.D Doctor in Chemistry. A double degree is awarded to students enrolled in the Joint PhD Programme between Università di Ferrara and University of Wroclaw.
  • Managing Department: Scienze chimiche e Farmaceutiche
  • Study abroad: compulsory
  • Educational purpose:

The PhD in Chemistry is a program for advanced academic education in the area of chemistry, pharmaceutical, food and cosmetic sciences, open to young graduates from Italy and abroad. Its primary mission is preparing highly qualified research doctors able to autonomously perform and to lead research projects. The PhD program aims at increasing both the theoretical and practical skills of its students. This goal will be achieved by offering to students highly-qualified courses in specific research subjects, on one hand, and by involving them in advanced research activities in fundamental and applied areas, on the other. PhD students will be thus actively involved in innovative and exciting programs and opportunities. The PhD course is held at the Department of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences (DCFS) of The University of Ferrara refers to the largest facilities of the School of Pharmacy and Health Products and involves a large number of researchers bringing a broad range of different competences and know-how in the fields of Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Technologies. Their long standing research and teaching experience offer to the students the possibility of growing in a stimulating and creative environment where doctoral students will develop personal skills they will need to further develop their career. The PhD in Chemistry relies upon a wide network of International relationships and contacts thus offering to students excellent opportunities of internationalization.

  • Educational plan:

The PhD program spans over a period of three years. It is made of both didactic and research activities. Didactic activities include the attendance of classes and the participation to seminars and workshops. These activities will be held by members of the PhD Committee or by highly qualified external researchers and will focus on research subjects of common interest to all curricula. The didactic activity will be essentially concentrated on the first two years of the program. This will give to students the opportunity of being completely dedicated to their own researches during the third year. The research activity will start on the first year to culminate, as it was mentioned, at the end of the program. It will essentially consists of experimental work and/or computational activities to be developed in the laboratories of the single research groups afferent to the PhD school but with the possibility of using, if needed, also equipment and facilities available at the other Departments of the University of Ferrara. At the end of each year, the PhD student will present his/her annual research and didactic activities to the PhD Committee for periodic evaluation. At the end of the third year, the student will report about his/her entire doctoral activity by holding a seminar focused on the detailed description of achieved results, research products (including published papers, presentations at scientific conferences, etc.) and didactic activities. The PhD student will be then allowed to defend his/her PhD dissertation in front of a Jury composed by internationally recognized experts nominated by the PhD Committee. In more detail, during the first year, the mandatory didactic activity required to PhD students is essentially the attendance of a series of classes/seminars aimed at giving fundamental/applied information on how to operate sophisticated laboratory instrumentations. Meantime, the students will be taught on the use of software for bibliographic research, querying databases and/or specific computational activities. Starting on the second year, the research activity will become preponderant on the didactic one, as research is the core of the doctoral education. Essentially, doctoral fellows will be required to attend a reduced number of classes and seminars. During the second or the third year of their program, PhD students must spend a period of time not shorter than three months, working on a foreign Research Institution.

  • Curricula:

There are two different curricula currently available: the one in “Chemistry” includes analytical, physical, inorganic, industrial and organic chemistry; that in “Pharmaceutical Sciences and Food Chemistry” involves pharmaceutical and food chemistry and pharmaceutical technology.

1) Chemistry:

Research activities revolve around the following subjects (divided by area)

(i) Analytical Chemistry: Investigation of mass transfer mechanisms and band broadening contributions in porous media used as stationary phases in liquid chromatography; Study of thermodynamic phenomena (e.g., adsorption processes) regulating retention mechanism in liquid chromatography; Separation of enantiomers and characterization of the enantiorecognition process in chiral liquid chromatography; Purification of therapeutic biomolecules (peptides, proteins, oligonucleotides, monoclonal antibodies) by means of batch and continuous preparative liquid chromatography; Solution interactions between metal ions and biologically or pharmacologically relevant ligands (mimicking the binding sites in metalloproteins and metal complex-formation solution equilibria with ligands with potential applications as drugs or contrast agents in medical imaging); Investigation of emerging contaminants; Development of (bio)remediation technologies.

(ii) Physical Chemistry: Synthesis, Chemical-Physical and Electrochemical Characterization of Advanced Materials for New Generation Energy Storage Systems. The topic includes the design and the development of new synthesis pathways for the achievement of electrode materials (anodes and cathodes) as well as electrolytes (liquids, solids, polymers and ionic liquids), and their structural, morphological and electrochemical investigation for application in emerging electrochemical energy storage and conversion systems such as lithium-ion, lithium-sulfur, lithium-air, sodium-ion, sodium-sulfur or sodium-air batteries. A modern perspective of conventional systems such as fuel cells, zinc batteries, and lead-acid batteries is also given

(iii) Inorganic Chemistry: Study of ground and excited electronic states of molecules and coordination compounds by using quantum-mechanics and experimental approaches, such as electrochemical,  spectroscopic and diffraction techniques. A proper understanding of the redox properties of the ground and excited states and their temporal evolution allows for the rational development of energy conversion schemes based on photoinduced electron transfer, and on their heterogenization in photoelectrochemical solar cells. Experimental investigation, supported by computation methodologies, allows for the design and synthesis of mesoporous semiconductors and innovative functional materials which find application in energy conversion and storage in disparate fields including: solar to electric energy conversion, batteries, solar fuel generation  and photochemical routes to  chemical intermediates important in fine chemistry.

(iv) Industrial Chemistry: design and optimization of biocatalyzed processes for the synthesis of chiral intermediates, for the pretreatment of biomasses and for the reduction of organic pollutants. Production of non-commercial, free and immobilized enzymes. Design, preparation and characterization of multiphase polymeric materials for packaging, agriculture, electronic, protective coating and personal care applications, etc.

(v) Organic Chemistry: Study and development of new organo- and biocatalytic processes in batch and continuous flow mode for the synthesis of biologically active chiral molecules and production of compounds of interest in fine and polymer chemistry starting from biomass-derived molecules (homogeneous and heterogeneous catalysis-based approaches); Design, synthesis, and study of the biological activity of artificial nucleosides and nucleotides as antiviral and anticancer agents. Solid phase synthesis of highly modified oligonucleotides to be used for in vitro and in vivo advanced gene therapies and as molecular recognition probes; Synthesis and study of the biological activity of pharmaceutically relevant compounds such as modulators of mitochondrial function and heterocyclic derivatives with potential analgesic activity.  Study and development of palladium organometallic systems in the synthesis of fine chemical products with particular attention to C-H alkylation reactions.

2) Pharmaceutical Sciences and Food Chemistry:

Research activities revolve around the following subjects (divided by area)

(i) Pharmaceutical Chemistry: Design and synthesis of new molecules interacting with biological targets of potential therapeutic interest through the study of receptors, enzymes or intracellular communication pathways involved in the onset and progression of pathological processes; Preparation for extraction and isolation from plant sources of extracts or natural molecules with biological and/or physiological activity, or for potential use as excipients and vehicles, for applications in the Pharmaceutical, Cosmetic and Food sector; Preparation, extraction, isolation, characterization, through biotechnological methods, from plant sources and biomasses of extracts or natural molecules with biological and/or physiological activity for potential applications in the Pharmaceutical, Cosmetic and Food sector as active ingredients or as excipients and vehicles for the aforementioned sectors; Cosmetic formulations, analysis and evaluation. New approaches to the formulation of cosmetic products. New analytical approaches to the qualitative and quantitative analysis of cosmetic products. Evaluation of cosmetic efficacy of raw materials and finished products.

(ii) Pharmaceutical Technology: Design and formulation of innovative micro- and nanocarriers for non-invasive administration (e.g. oral, nasal) and targeting of drugs or prodrugs towards specific target sites (brain, lungs, macrophages, tumors); in vitro-ex vivo cell/tissue models of physiological barriers, pharmacokinetic studies, efficacy and safety studies of the innovative carriers; Design, preparation and characterization of cosmetics and medical devices for topical application as well as lipid-based micro and nanoparticles for the delivery and cutaneous and/or transcutaneous administration of drugs. In vitro and in vivo methods for the evaluation of diffusion kinetics and biodistribution of encapsulated molecules; Solid dosage forms and delivery systems (powders, tablets, films) for oral, transmucosal (nasal, buccal), intracavitary drug application.

(iii) Food Chemistry: Characterization of typical food products (fresh and processed) from a compositional, nutritional and functional point of view. Analysis of functional and organoleptic quality components in processed foods and study of molecular and biomolecular markers for the traceability and transformation of food raw materials. Studies concerning the  bioaccessibility of nutritional and functional components from food. Development of green advanced methods for the recovery of bioactive and high added value molecules from waste and by-product food matrices, aimed at obtaining ingredients for food supplement and novel food with improved functional and preservation properties. Study of the occurrence of inorganic nanoparticles in foods (with major focus on lyophilized products and food supplements) by using atomic spectroscopy and field flow fractionation techniques.

 

LIST OF TEACHING COURSES

 

Title Instructor Hours/Credits Language

Modern liquid chromatography for the separation and purification of biologically active molecules

Martina Catani

12/4

IT/EN

Microporous materials for water (bio)remediation

Tatiana Chenet e Simona Felletti

12/4

IT/EN

Inorganic Radiochemistry

Alessandra Boschi e Adriano Duatti

12/4

IT/EN

Plastic material biodegradation

Monica Bertoldo e Pier Paolo Giovannini

10/4

IT/EN

Organotransition Metal Chemistry

Claudio Trapella e Anna Fantinati

12/4

IT/EN

Advanced peptide synthesis techniques

Salvatore Pacifico

10/4

IT/EN

Innovative strategies for drug delivery

Gaia Colombo, Rita Cortesi, Alessandro Dalpiaz, Elisabetta Esposito, Claudio Nastruzzi

12/4

IT/EN