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SupraChem Lab - Laboratory of Supramolecular Chemistry for Adaptive Delivery Systems - ERA Chair initiative

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - SupraChem Lab (SupraChem Lab - Laboratory of Supramolecular Chemistry for Adaptive Delivery Systems - ERA Chair initiative)

Reporting period: 2018-01-01 to 2020-06-30

The strategic objective of the SupraChem Lab Project is to unlock and foster excellent research in the INSTITUTUL DE CHIMIE MACROMOLECULARA PETRU PONI (ICMPP) – IntelCentre by setting up a strong research group in the field of hybrid materials for adaptive self-organized supramolecular structures. The project aims to improve the research capacity of ICMPP IntelCentre to become an outstanding Romanian research centre. It intends to do so by attracting and maintaining high quality human resources through the recruitment of the ERA Chair Holder and other highly trained researchers, secondments of new research staff in leading European research centres with similar and complementary expertise, training staff and implementing the structural changes necessary to achieve excellence on a sustainable basis.

Considering the ICMPP development strategy, the research challenges in the Romanian Smart Specialisation Strategy and the Horizon 2020 objectives, the ultimate goal for the IntelCentre is to build an optimal scientific research team capable of improving its excellence both within
ICMPP and within the European research and innovation landscape. It is very important to match the IntelCentre research topics to the level of leading international laboratories and to place the Centre at the forefront of research in the field of supramolecular chemistry.
The project started on 01.07.2015 and the first activity concerned the recruitment of the ERA Chair Holder taking into account the EC requirement that he/she should be both an outstanding researcher and research manager in the field of supramolecular chemistry, with a proven record of effective leadership skills, equivalent of Leading Researcher (R4). An open and merit-based recruitment process was followed based on both the Romanian and European legislation.
Based on the results of the recruitment process, Dr. Mihail-Dumitru Barboiu was appointed and his contract started on 10.10.2015. Dr. Barboiu with the support of the International Advisory Board and National Advisory Board put in place a Scientific and Management Plan" for the SupraChem Lab group. According to this plan, the group was organised in four different sub-projects: (a) Dynamic Interactive Systems for Constitutional Water and Ion Channels; (b) Constitutional systems for DNA transfection and drug delivery; (c) Dynameric networks and gels for delivery, cell recognition and cell growing; (d) Modelling and Theoretical chemistry of constitutional systems.
The first implementation period of the project activities concentrated mainly on the start-up of the new research group. In the first reporting period, emphasis was placed on the training of the new team. In spite of the short period of the team's existence, several dissemination activities were performed and six articles were published.

Since 2017, Marc Abadie, professor emeritus at the University of Montpellier, has been leading the SupraChem Lab team as the ‘ERA Chair’, under the motto: ‘The challenges of the research we’ve undertaken were to set up a competitive research group and promote research excellence for a better understanding of the mechanisms of medical therapeutic treatments involved in medicine, and ultimately to improve health care.’
2020 marks the end of the implementation period of the Horizon 2020 SupraChem Lab ERA Chair initiative. In just five years, the project has reached its main objective - the creation of a group of young researchers in the field of supramolecular chemistry with applications in nanomedicine in the Macromolecular Chemistry Institute Petru Poni, Iasi, Romania.
Financed by the European Union under the ERA Chair Initiative Horizon 2020 H2020-WIDESPREAD-2014-2 CONTRACT NO 667387, the project has successly concluded under the attentive guidance of Prof. Emeritus Dr. Marc JM Abadie University of Montpellier. During this period, 28 young researchers had been given the opportunity to receive a head start in applying the insights of supramolecular chemistry to biomedical applications such as gene therapy, mechanisms of transport through tissues, supramolecular non-viral vector, DNA transfection, hydrogels for drug delivery, tissue engineering, stimuli responsive polymers, anti-microbial agents and markers for diagnostics.
Over the past five years, SupraChem Lab accomplished: (i) Publications: 73 articles, one book and 3 book chapters; (ii) Conferences: 9 scientific meetings organised within the project and participation in 145 international meetings; (iii) Networking: 11 networking events organised within the project and 52 external events etc.
Looking to the future: SupraChem lab has made a solid start in its five years of existence, managing to find ways to self-sustain and grow. Several prestigious names from both scientific and policy making sectors have been linked to SupraChem Lab. In the long term, our research will help in gene therapy, drug delivery, tissue engineering, antimicrobial agents, and markers for diagnostics. Overall, the exploitation of results from this project, can lead to the creation of new products, patents, further research, policy impact etc.
As per the "Scientific and Management Plan", the research of the newly composed group focuses on Dynamic Interactive Systems-(DIS) operating under the natural selection to allow structural/ functional adaptability in response to internal constitutional or stimulant external factors. The main targets demonstrating the ground-breaking nature of the SupraChem Lab group are as follows: (a) to improve the understanding of the adaptive functional self-organization towards the natural selection of the components by exploring the synergistic influence of internal structural self-assembly based on constitution and of self-evolutive behaviours on the addition of stimuli; (b) to ensure accurate control of functional responses through dynamic platforms developed through tuned incorporation of responsive components into nanostructures, with the extension toward the construction of appropriate micro-scaffolds; (c) to investigate application avenues towards larger impact of developed bio- and environmental responsive “smart” systems like membranes and delivery systems cell recognition and cell growing devices. Therefore, a very important scope for the SupraChem Lab group is to achieve new fundamental knowledge and to assist the development of new hybrid materials with supramolecular structures.