Giuseppe Antonio Malfa
Tell us about yourself: what is your educational and academic background?
I am a Pharmaceutical Botanist involved in the study of endemic and non-endemic plant species of pharmaceutical, cosmetic, nutraceutical, and food interest. After graduating in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology (2008) at the University of Catania, I won a postgraduate scholarship at the Department of Biological Chemistry, Medical Chemistry, and Molecular Biology (2009). In 2014 I obtained a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the International Research Doctorate of the consortium Universities of Catania, Rome (La Sapienza), and Pavia. During my educational path, I had the opportunity to attend different foreign research laboratories in Europe and the USA, including the Cell Biology Laboratory of the Department of Physiology & Pharmacology, College of Medicine, University of Toledo, Ohio USA (2010), and the redox proteomics laboratory of the Department of Biochemistry, University College of Cork, Ireland (2011). After, I was a volunteer Post-Doctoral Researcher in the Pharmaceutical Biology group at the Department of Drug Sciences of the University of Catania until 2016. From October 2016 to August 2022, I was an adjunct professor of Plant and Animal Biology at the degree course in Applied Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Catania. Currently, I am researcher (RtdB) in Pharmaceutical Biology (SSD BIO 15) at the Department of Drug and Health Sciences at the University of Catania since September 2022.
Can you briefly introduce your research?
Currently, my research is focused on the chemical characterization and the evaluation of the biological activities of natural extracts of plant origin for the evaluation of the antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cytotoxic, and anticancer activities on normal and transformed cell lines. In particular, my research concerns medicinal and edible plants as a source of molecules with antioxidant action, in consideration of the key role of oxidative stress in the promotion and progression of numerous human pathologies.
What are the most challenging features of your work?
Secondary metabolites from plants are still an important source of lead compounds for the development of new drugs but are also a valid tool to prevent a large range of lifestyle diseases thanks to the synergistic effects of the phytocomplexes. The ultimate goal of researchers in pharmaceutical biology is to find new possible therapeutic uses for natural compounds from the plant kingdom to treat different diseases including cancer.
What are the most 'intriguous' and fulfilling aspects of your research?
Drug discovery from plants involves a multidisciplinary approach that integrates botanical, biological, chemical, and biochemical techniques. These aspects together with the possibility of finding a natural compound that modulates different biological processes related to human diseases represent an exciting challenge for any researcher of pharmaceutical biology.
THAT'S ME in few words! What are your outside hobbies?
Plants are my passion even outside my job, I love music, animals, and nature in all parts. I'm a thalassophile and hodophile!