International Talks: Ana Maria Panaite

Ana Maria Panaite

The attractive research of magnetic nanoparticles

A Romanian who has spent more than half of her life in Spain and who is now working in Italy… A bit confusing, right?

I made my first steps in science at the University of the Basque Country in Spain, where I earned a BSc degree in Chemistry and an MSc degree in Synthetic and Industrial Chemistry. Once I had finished my master’s degree, I decided to broaden my horizons and gain some practical experience in other European countries. After an internship programme in Belgium, where I met many interesting people who had different ways of thinking and working, I saw Italy as the perfect next step. Mostly because of the sun, let’s be honest.

I then applied for a fellowship position in IIT, where I got to know Teresa Pellegrino and her group. I am so grateful that she gave me this amazing opportunity, because I gained great experience in the field of nanoparticles and their applications in medicine.

When I started thinking about doing a PhD I was sure about one thing: I wanted a project that could make a difference to the world we live in. The HeatNMof absolutely fitted the bill, since its aim is to develop smart multifunctional nanocarriers based on versatile highly porous Metal Organic Frameworks combined with plasmonic and/or magnetic nanoparticles, and to study them for cancer treatment. My role in this project is focused on the synthesis of the magnetic nanoparticles with different size, shapes and composition and the engineering of their surface with MOF, in order to use them for hyperthermia and drug delivery applications.

What makes this project so interesting is the opportunity to travel and learn from so many outstanding researchers, coming from different European countries. It is a fantastic way to grow not only as a professional but also as a person as you have the opportunity to learn different languages, get to know different cultures and basically immerse yourself in a rich and enriching variety of experiences.

Although I still miss Bilbao, the combination of coastal areas and mountain landscapes that Genova offers makes me feel closer to home. Another thing that fascinates me about the city is how it still manages to surprise me with its architectural and artistic gems that hide within it. There is something new to discover every time I take a stroll along the streets of the Old Town. Even more so if my new friends volunteer to be my guides 🙂