Tell us about yourself: what is your educational and academic background?
I received my M.S. in Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Technology (July 2012) and my Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Sciences (February 2016) from the University of Catania, Italy. After completion of my studies, I have been appointed Post-Doctoral Associate at the University of Mississippi, USA (May 2016-January 2017), and then at the Department of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Florida USA (January 2017−June 2019) where I worked on the development of new sigma receptor ligands. Also, during my educational path, I performed several training experiences in foreign research and Academic institutions, including the Institute of Pharmacology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Krakow, Poland (January 2015-May 2015), the University of Mississippi, USA (July 2015-September 2015), the Princess Al-Jawhara Center for Molecular Medicine, Arabian Gulf University, Bahrein (January 2020- February 2020), and the Jagiellonian University Medical College (October 2020-February 2021).
Can you briefly introduce your research?
Currently, my research is focused on the design and synthesis of novel hybrid compounds, such as multitarget-directed ligands and mutual prodrugs, that might serve as innovative therapeutics approaches to overcome drug resistance and improve cancer chemotherapy. In addition, I work on the development of new small molecules, for key therapeutic areas (i.e., cancer, neuropathic pain, and CNS disorders), acting as selective ligands or modulators toward different biological targets, such as heme oxygenase 1 and 2, sigma receptors, 5-HT1AR, and 5-HT7R.
What are the most challenging features of your work?
Developing new synthetic schemes to obtain the designed molecules might be challenging sometimes, however it is very rewarding once you obtain the pure final compound.
What are the most 'intriguous' and fulfilling aspects of your research?
The multidisciplinary nature of my discipline is the most exciting part of my research. Since medicinal chemistry deals with the rational design, organic synthesis, and biological evaluation (including their metabolism and side effects) of new potential drugs, I can learn every day something more about different topics by spanning several branches of science (e.g., chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacology, nanomedicine).
THAT'S ME in few words! What are your outside hobbies?
Outside of work, I spend my time with my family for a healthy work-life balance. In my leisure time, I like swimming or scuba diving and doing excursions on nature trails (for example on Mount Etna). Finally, when I have the chance, I love traveling.