Each year hundreds of the best and brightest researchers gather in Lindau, Germany, for the Nobel Laureate Meeting. There, the newest generation of scientists mingles with Nobel Prize winners and discusses their work and ideas. The 2013 meeting is dedicated to chemistry and will involve young researchers from 78 different countries. In anticipation of the event, which will take place from June 30 through July 5, we are highlighting a group of attendees under 30 who represent the future of chemistry. The following profile is the first in a series of 30.

Name: Chiara Nardon
Age: 29
Born: Schio, Italy
Nationality: Italian

Current position: Postdoctoral fellow at the University of Padova, Italy
Education: BS in chemistry from the University of Padova (magna cum laude); MS in chemistry from Padova (magna cum laude); PhD in molecular sciences from Padova

What is your field of research?
My research interests are within the field of bioinorganic chemistry: specifically, the design, synthesis, characterization and biological development (in vitro screening, mechanism of action, interaction with biomolecules, transcriptomics, in vivo activity and toxicological profile) of new molecules (metal-based drugs) for targeted anticancer therapy. The data collected so far are very promising in terms of both anti-tumor activity and no or negligible systemic toxicity. Therefore, we have filed an international patent.

What drew you to chemistry, and to that research area in particular?
My personal and academic life destined me to be involved in the chemical and biological study of new potential anti-tumor drugs. I have been working very hard for years with this dream in my heart: to direct my personal energy and skills toward the fight against cancer! In order to investigate biological issues underlying cancer with the eyes of a chemist, I decided to become a chemist when I was very young. I really desire to contribute to this field with strong commitment and passion: the pressing necessity of new, more selective anticancer chemotherapeutics is the driving force that should motivate researchers like me to deepen our studies and give us a hope for the future. I urge my young colleagues to fight together against cancer!

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I nourish the dream to grow as a scientist in the biomedical field. Thus, in the future I see myself still as a researcher in the oncological field. In particular, in 10 years I hope to have achieved a step forward —perhaps small, but hopefully big—toward the cure for cancer. At present, to better reach my aims I am working with some colleagues within the Bioinorganic Chemistry Lab (Department of Chemical Sciences, University of Padova; Team Leader: Professor Dolores Fregona) to establish a new spin-off company. In this context we hope to be able to discover a new potential drug targeting one or more types of tumor.

What is your dream study or experiment? If you had unlimited resources, what kind of research would you conduct?
The research group where I have been working since 2006 is very motivated and made up of very talented people. The team’s work has been challenging and financially demanding. We were able to obtain internationally recognized results by means of very limited funds (due to the Italian financing strategy).

If I had unlimited resources, however, I would quickly complete the last preclinical studies necessary to enter phase I clinical trials with our most promising compounds. Then, I would conduct another type of research—I would investigate the molecular mechanisms underlying the origin and proliferation of neoplasia, [or tumor formation,] through the “eyes” of a bioinorganic chemist. Also, I have other cutting-edge projects that, due to lack of funds, cannot take off. These projects are in the fields of cancer theragnostics[theranostics?] (the development of drugs and biosensors for the early detection of tumor markers) and anti-inflammatory therapy.

What do you hope to gain from this year’s Lindau meeting?
First of all, it is a huge honor for me to have the possibility to meet so many scientists of great renown together at a unique event. This meeting gives me the possibility to interact with Nobel laureates, compare my scientific ideas, discuss my future projects with them and possibly plan new key collaborations. In this context the research group where I work is founding a new spin-off company in order to enter phase I clinical trials. Thus, we are looking for new collaborators (public and private) for joint projects.

Are there any Nobelists whom you are particularly excited to meet?
All the Nobelists conducted pioneer studies in different fields essential for the humankind’s development, and so it will be very interesting to meet them and learn from their communications in Lindau. I hope to have the opportunity to share my ideas with some of them, mainly in the biomedical chemistry field.

  30 Under 30:
Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting
Next »
2. Bill Morandi