RESEARCHERS

NanoFlavNeuroProtect project team has nine members including principal investigator, four researchers, two assistant professors and two postdoctoral researchers. The participation of one technician and one professional associate is available for performing laboratory work. The RBI team possesses experience in preparation of a whole suite of model membrane systems of increasing complexity. Team has expertise in colloid and interface chemistry, including testing of nanoparticles (NPs) stability in different media, determining drug release kinetics, and in the application of different techniques (AFM and FS, FTIR and ATR spectroscopy to elucidate the model membrane–NP interactions. In order to ensure that all activities are performed at highest possible level, fully exploiting the state of the art, 3 consultants (2 international) are also members of the team.

 

Suzana Šegota, PhD, Principal Investigator, Senior Research Associate, Laboratory for biocolloids and surface chemistry, RBI

PhD Suzana Šegota received her doctorate in 2003 from the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Zagreb, Croatia. During her work as the Assistant at the Faculty of Science, she recieved Alpe-Adria fellowship and DDAD fellowship. Prior to taking the position at the Ruđer Bošković Institute in 2007, she was involved in teaching of Physical chemistry and Colloid Science at the University of Zagreb, Faculty of Science. Since 2007, PhD Suzana Šegota is involved in several Bachelor, Masters and PhD thesis involving AFM methods. Her main research interests include: (i) model lipid membranes and interfacial processes of the self-organizing lipids, model membrane phase behavior in physiological and high ionic strength conditions; (ii) interaction of nanoparticles and bioactive molecules with model lipid membranes, characterization and modifications of nanoparticles, characterization of association colloids, lyotropic liquid crystals, vesicles (liposomes) and nanostructures in medicine as drug carriers; (iii) application of colloid and interface chemistry and atomic force microscopy in the nanobiotechnological research, material characterization and surface processes on the nanoscale; (iv) design and preparation of model systems with perspective use in the bionanotechnology; and (v) physical chemistry of colloids and processes at the interfaces, dynamics of the aggregation processes, association colloids.

Within this project, PhD Suzana Šegota is principal investigator, and is in charge of smooth running and implementation of the project, including managing of the administrative, legal, financial, technical and other aspects of the project. In addition, she also closely organizes, monitors and participates in the planning of the experimental work related to AFM measurements.

 

Maja Dutour Sikirić, PhD, Senior Research Associate, Head of the Laboratory for biocolloids and surface chemistry, RBI

PhD Maja Dutour Sikirić received her doctorate in July 2002 from the Faculty of Sciences, University of Zagreb. During her studies she has acquired experience and developed an interest in two important areas: (i) organic – inorganic interactions in crystallization, as related to biomineralization, and (ii) physicochemical properties of novel gemini surfactants in aqueous solutions and the solid state. These areas require advanced knowledge in surface and interfacial chemistry and are of great interest for materials science, physical and applied chemistry. She joined Casali Institute of Applied Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem for Post-doctoral studies (2002 – 2004), which were supported through an EU project Surface Improvement of Metal Implants and Valazzi-Pikovsky Fellowship. Her work involved the development of organic-inorganic nanocomposites, to be used as coatings for metal prosthetic implants. Part of this research was patented. After returning to RBI she continued her work on organic-inorganic nanocomposites biomaterials as well as using DLS for characterization of inorganic and soft nanoparticles in different matrices and development of drug delivery systems.

Task of PhD M. Dutour Sikirić in NanoFlavNeuroProtect project is coordination of DLS/ELS measurements with PhD D. Domazet Jurašin, participation in model membranes preparation and cell culture tests.

 

Darija Domazet Jurašin, PhD, Research Associate, Laboratory for biocolloids and surface chemistry, RBI

PhD Darija Domazet Jurašin received her doctorate in December 2010 from the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Zagreb, Croatia. During her PhD studies she has acquired experience in characterization of the physicochemical properties of surfactants and their mixtures in aqueous solutions and the solid state. The emphasis of the investigation was on the role of dodecyl chain number (degree of oligomerization) and location of the ionic head groups at the interfaces on surface activity, self-association in solutions, structural and thermal properties in the solid state. These areas of expertise require advanced knowledge in surface and interfacial chemistry and are of great interest for physical and applied chemistry. After receiving her doctorate, she obtained Unity through Knowledge Fund (UKF) project in 2011 entitled “Characterization of biopolymeric scaffolds interaction with cells”. This project enabled her to apply gained knowledge and broaden her expertise with investigation of polymeric scaffold materials. She has a strong experimental background in combined experimental techniques such as dynamic light scattering (DLS), microelectrophoresis, surface tension, conductivity, X-ray diffraction, microscopy and thermal methods of analysis. She successfully applied the experience gained through her previous research in characterization of natural and synthetic nanoparticles as well as drug delivery systems using DLS.

Tasks of PhD D. Domazet Jurašin in the Project include participation in liposome and SLB preparation, DLS/ESL measurements, determination of flavonoids release kinetics and cell culture tests.

 

Josipa Vlainić, PhD Research Associate, Laboratory for advanced genomics, RBI

PhD Josipa Vlainić defended her doctoral dissertation in January 2009 at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zagreb. Her main research interest is the effect of drugs on different neuropsychoactive drugs and substances in different models (in vivo and in vitro). Most of the previously published papers related to the research on the activity of drugs and substances through the GABAergic system. In her research she successfully uses different cell models (cell lines of neuronal origin and isolation of primary neuronal cells from mouse and rat brain) and live animals (the FELASA course). She has expertise in the field of cell and molecular biology. She uses various methods by which cell survival is determined, and the various parameters (ROS, ATP, GSH, LDH, caspases, protein and gene expression) involved in cellular damage and death. As a graduate student, she won 5 dean’s awards for the best student. During her doctoral and postdoctoral study, she received several international grants to attend scientific meetings and several international awards. She had short scientific visit to University of Manchester and several workshops organized by International Brain Research Organization and Forum of European Neuroscience.

PhD J. Vlainić is responsible for neuronal cultures within the project, as well as performing of experiments for neuronal viability and assays determination.

 

Vida Čadež, PhD, Senior Research Assistant, Laboratory for biocolloids and surface chemistry, RBI

PhD Vida Čadež received her doctorate in May 2015 from the Postgraduate Interdisciplinary Study of Molecular Biosciences at University of Osijek in the area of interdisciplinary natural sciences, field of chemistry and filed of biology. During her doctoral research she has gained experience and developed interests in several areas, mostly regarding early biomineralization of marine organisms with an emphasis on the isolation and characterization of proteins and polysaccharides. Her PhD thesis was focused on characterization of nanostructures and the role of organic matrix in biomineralization, using a combination of biochemical and material science techniques (e.g. AFM, SDS-PAGE, SEM, XRD, TGA, DTA). As a graduate student, she won 3 Chancellor’s awards for the best student and prominent scholarship “Top Scholarship for Top students” She also attended 8 conferences and was on two short scientific visits to Max Plank Institute for Intelligent Systems, University of Stuttgart and Queens University of Belfast. After her PhD she started to work on encapsulation of small molecules in model membranes and liposomes for diverse usage. Specifically, PhD Čadež is able to synthesize liposomes with different compositions and characterize them using atomic force microscopy and dynamic light scattering techniques. She is currently finalizing 3 publications from her thesis for publishing and further improving her knowledge regarding AFM microscopy, analysis and data processing.

Within the project PhD Vida Čadež works on nanomechanical mapping (AFM, FS), preparation of NPs and model membranes, determination of flavonoids release kinetics and neuronal cultures.

 

Tea Mihelj Josipović, PhD, Senior Research Assistant, Laboratory for biocolloids and surface chemistry, RBI

PhD Tea Mihelj graduated in 2009 from Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology, University of Zagreb with the MSc degree in Food Technology, Study of Food Engineering.  As a graduate student, she recieved Scholarship of the Republic of Croatia (2007), and Scholarship awarded by University of Zagreb (2008). She received a PhD in Physical Chemistry in April 2015 from the Faculty of Science, University of Zagreb. Her doctoral thesis was made at Ruđer Bošković Institute, and it comprised: (i) synthesis of different cholate-based catanionic systems and metalloamphiphilic complexes, as well as host-guest complexes based on 18-crown-6 ether; (ii) analysis of their properties in the solution and/or in solid state; (iii) structural and thermal characterization with different physicochemical techniques; (iv) study of conditions required for the formation of novel hybrid membranes and hydrogels, as well as (v) study of the effect of different structural parameters on thermal properties and architecture of resulted assemblies. Mentioned experiments widen the research field of ion complexation and supramolecular chemistry, they enable design of new, functionalized materials with a desired structure and properties. Nowadays, besides further research on bile salt systems and macrocyclic polyethers, work of PhD Tea Mihelj includes synthesis and characterization of catanionics based on synthetic surfactants, in order to design more “environmental-friendly” amphiphiles. Also, she is a team member in projects working on biomineralization and solid state hydrogen storage.

PhD Tea Mihelj is involved in characterization of NPs within the project, as well as determination of flavonoid release kinetics from NPs by HPLC.

 

Goran Baranović, PhD, Scientific Adviser, retired, RBI

 

PhD Goran Baranović received his doctorate in 1987 from the Faculty of Sciences at University of Zagreb. During his scientific career he has gained experience and developed interests in several areas, mostly regarding molecular spectroscopies and vibrational analysis using infrared and Raman techniques. He was a head of the Laboratory for Molecular Spectroscopy at Ruđer Bošković Institute, project leader of five projects, two financed through Ministry of Science and technology in Republic of Croatia (Enhanced π-systems and molecular spectroscopies and Macrocyclic ligands, structural changes in solutions and molecular spectroscopies), one in the framework of COGITO (Microheterogeneity in aqueous mixtures: An investigation by molecular spectroscopy and theoretical methods), one US – Croatia Joint Fund (Vibrational analysis of stilbenes and its derivatives in relation to their photophysics and Photochemistry) and one Deutsche Forschungs Gemeinschaft (Nah Infarot Fourier Transform Mikro-Raman-Spektroskopie von Proben unter hohem Druck). He was on long-term education at University of Belfast (1994, 1996), University of Rocherster (1996, 1998), and University of P. et M. Curie (2007, 2008). PhD Baranović is also recognized as a qualified member of organization committee of local and international congresses, meetings and workshops. He is also a referee for 7 international journals, for projects of the Ministry of Science and High Education in the Republic of Croatia and National Science Foundation and a reviewer for Slovenian Research Agency panel.

PhD Goran Baranović is the leader of FTIR team, responsible for experimental set-up, FTIR spectra recording, interpretation and modelling.

 

Mislav Mustapić, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Osijek

PhD Mislav Mustapić received his doctorate in July 2013 from the University of Wollongong, Australia. During his PhD studies he has acquired experience in synthesis, characterization, and measuring different kind of nanoparticles, as well as preparation of pellets and wires of MgB2 superconductor and measurement of electro-magnetic properties. These areas of expertise require advanced knowledge in inorganic and physical chemistry and are of great interest for applied chemistry and solid state physics. After receiving doctorate, he was for one and half year at Victor Chang Cardiac Research Hospital, Sydney for postdoctoral studies, under the supervision of Prof. Boris Martinac, developing targeted drug delivery system with magnetic materials.

PhD Mislav Mustapić coordinates the preparation and characterization of NPs with PhD. Martina Medvidović-Kosanović.

 

Martina Medvidović-Kosanović, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Osijek

PhD Martina Medvidović-Kosanović received her doctorate in June 2011 from the Faculty of Sciences, University of Zagreb. During her studies she has gained experience and developed interests in several areas: (i) interfacial processes, b) electrochemical techniques and c) biologically electroactive compounds. Her Ph.D. thesis dealt with investigation of electrochemical and antioxidant properties of naturally occurring polyphenols (quercetin, rutin and (+)-catechin) with cyclic, differential pulse and square-wave voltammetry, and UV/Vis spectroscopy (with ABTS reagent). Characterization of the potentiometric sensor electrode with a liquid membrane based on PVC with incorporated complex of Cu2+ ion and rutin was also made. Later she was a principle investigator of a scientific project within which electrochemical properties of Schiff bases by cyclic and differential pulse voltammetry were studied. She also participated in investigation of electrochemical properties and oxidation mechanism of carnosine and anserine. At the moment, she is involved in a project where she works on electrochemical characterization of potentiometric tenside sensor based on nanomaterials by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy.

PhD Martina Medvidović-Kosanović is responsible for preparation and characterization of NPs as well as flavonoid release from NPs.

 

International experts – consultants

Vukoman Jokanović, PhD, Scientific Advisor, Institute of Nuclear Sciences ”Vinča”, Beograd, Serbia

PhD Vukoman Jokanović is expert in loading and entrapment efficiency of active substances, rate control of their release, specificity of activity for various kinds of bacteria, application of drug to the inflammated tissues around the bone implants, investigation of specific interactions between scaffolds and live cells, etc. In the field of regenerative medicine his research is concentrated on complex structural geometric design through several hierarchical levels in the scaffolds of porous ceramic and composite structures. His expertise in design and preparation of novel bionanomaterials is of special interest for NanoFlavNeuroProtect project.

 

Zoran Arsov, PhD, Scientific Advisor, Jožef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia

PhD Zoran Arsov is conducting research of structure and physicochemical properties of model lipid and biological membranes as well as their interaction with biologically active compounds using electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy, infrared (IR) spectroscopy, IR spectromicroscopy, fluorescence confocal microscopy, atomic force microscopy, surface plasmon resonance, preparation of liposomes, preparation of blood hematocrit and erythrocyte ghosts, spectrophotometry etc.

 

Boris Subotić, PhD, Scientific Advisor, retired, RBI

PhD Boris Subotić is retired but still active in research as an associate of the “Zeolite Group” from RBI. His research interests are mainly focused on the mechanisms of zeolite crystallization with a special emphasis to the critical processes which occur at molecular and nanosized level, in both solid and the liquid phase during crystallization. In the last few years, his research interest is focused to the role of subcolloidal (nanosized) precursor species during the crystallization of zeolites. His experience in investigation of different mesoporous zeolites will contribute to the optimization of mesoporous NPs synthesis.