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Reinforcing scientific and technological potential of the Natural Products Laboratory - University of Athens

Periodic Report Summary - NAT FORCE (Reinforcing scientific and technological potential of the natural products laboratory - University of Athens)

The basic concept of NATFORCE project is the scientific and technological reinforcement of the Laboratory of Pharmacognosy and Natural Products Chemistry of the University of Athens (LNPC) and the main objective is to facilitate the expansion and transformation of an existing high-quality research and education entity to a natural product research centre comparable to other European centres distinguished for scientific excellence. National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) was the first University established at the Eastern Mediterranean (1837) and nowadays is the principal state institution in Greece, and one of the largest universities in Europe. NKUA has more than 31 departments and more than 34 000 students among them 9 000 on master degree and 7 500 on PhD. According to THES, NKUA is ranked among the top 200 most distinguished universities worldwide.

The LNPC through NATFORCE managed to obtain state of the art equipment which facilitates advanced research projects in the field of natural products chemistry like a microprobe-NMR 600 MHz, a LC-MS/MS (UHPLC-LTQ), a high throughput TLC/HPTLC system and an MPLC separation device that complement the existing modern powerful instrumentation of the LNPC. Moreover, NATFORCE project assisted significantly the expansion of the existing strategic partnerships and network activities of LNPC and the transfer of the necessary know-how of new technologies from well established European research centres. The resulting strengthening of scientific collaboration in pan European level will also support considerably LNPC to participate in European research programmes.

It is worth mentioned that LNPC has already numerous participations in national and European research programmes and due to the impact of NATFORCE project currently is coordinating two EU FP7 projects. It has also extensive collaboration with international industrial partners as well as with well established research centres. Finally, NATFORCE project gave the opportunity to LNPC to enhance its scientific capability through the recruitment of experienced researchers already familiar with new technologies and advanced methodologies.

The main objective in this project is to facilitate the expansion and transformation of an existing high-quality research and education entity to a natural product research centre comparable to other European centres distinguished for scientific excellence.

Main activities for the implementation of the project are:
- Acquirement and upgrade of instrumentation for cost-effective high throughput analysis
- Know-how transfer about high throughput analysis and pharmacological screening
- Recruitment of scientists and opportunity for high level research activities
- Organisation of workshops and participation in European and international conferences
- Dissemination and promotional activities of research achievements and offered services
- Developing strategic partnership with well established EU research centres three highly respectable research centres in Germany, France and Switzerland have already been chosen.

Overall the reinforcement of scientific and technological potential would lead to the establishment of a state of the art research centre in the field of natural products in Europe and would lead to the production of significant knowledge and new high added value applications of natural compounds in pharmaceutical, cosmetic, nutraceutical and agricultural sectors.

All the above mentioned features, installation of state of the art equipment, mobilisation of human resources, recruitment of experienced scientific personnel, development of strategic partnerships, dissemination of scientific information, establishment of an effective communication between centres illustrate the main objectives of the project and would lead to the establishment of a high level research centre in the field of natural products in Europe. LNPC will be capable to enter and lead the area of high added value natural compounds, produce new knowledge and provide services in the pharmaceutical, food and agricultural sector. Finally it will be able to attract the interest of the industry or other stakeholders, with a positive impact on the socio-economic status of the country and the procedure of European integration.