Foto del docente

Giuseppe Falini

Full Professor

Department of Chemistry "Giacomo Ciamician"

Academic discipline: CHIM/03 General and Inorganic Chemistry

Curriculum vitae

Prof. Giuseppe Falini (GF), PhD in Chemistry, is full professor in general and inorganic chemistry at the Department of Chemistry "Giacomo Ciamician" of the University of Bologna. GF teaches general and inorganic chemistry lab course  and solid state chemistry to students in Chemistry at the School of Science ofthe University of Bologna. He is also teaching biomineralization at the International School in Crystallization that takes place in Granada (Spain).

GF spent several periods of study and research abroad:
(i) He has been at the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel) guests of Profs. L. Addadi and S. Weiner (1995-1997) to study the role of the organic matrix in the controlled deposition of calcium carbonate polymorphs in mollusk shells;
(ii) He has conducted research on this topic at the University of California Santa Barbara in Santa Barbara, USA, (1998) under the guidance of Prof. G. D. Stucky and Prof. D. E. Morse;
(iii) He has been at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, USA (2005), where with Prof. J. Moradian Oldak he focused the research on enamel formation;

The research activities of GF are mainly addressed in the field of biomineralization and macromolecular crystallography. It can be summarized in the following subjects:
- the study of the crystalline structure using X-ray crystallography of biological macromolecules and minerals involved in the biomineralization processes of calcium carbonate;
- the design and preparation of innovative surfaces of biomineralization inspiration for the crystallization of biological macromolecules;
- the study of calcium carbonate deposition in corals and the effects of temperature and ocean acidification on growth mechanisms;
- the study of the structure of the byssus from mussels and chitin from squid pens and the application of these materials for the preparation of new biomaterials for healthcare;
- the reuse of waste seashells for the preparation of new advanced materials for cementitious applications, nano-medicine and tissue regeneration.

The research activities of GF are carried out through the use of several experimental techniques. He has access to sources of synchrotron light (in Trieste, Grenoble and Brookhaven) for the study by X-ray diffraction of the crystalline structure of biological macromolecules and for the determination of molecular recognition to the inorganic-organic interface. He uses electronic microscopes (SEM, ESEM, TEM and Cryo-TEM) and scanning probe microscopes to study the interaction between mineral phases and biopolymers. He guides the biocrystallization and biomineralization.

GF is a leading researcher in the study of biomineralization processes, with widely recognized contributions in the fields of control of biological relevant mineral deposition on bio-macromolecular matrices and macromolecular crystallography. His research activity is recognized by present collaborations with other leading groups in biomineralization, such as: Prof. Mass (Haifa University, Israel), Prof. B. Pokroy (Technion, Israel), Prof. Z. Dubinsky (Bar Ilan University, Israel), Prof. Peter Fratzl (Max Planck Institute, Germany) and Dr. Kralj (Ruder Boškovic Institute, Croatia).

GF is reviewing manuscripts submitted to the most prestigious journals, like Science and Nature, and has been guest editor of the Journal of Crystal Growth. GF is co-author of more than 170 scientific publications (H-index = 36) in international journals with high impact factor. The publication list of GF includes two Science articles, one Nature Climate Changes, one Nature Communications, one PNAS article and two Angewandte Chemie articles.
GF has been invited to present his research activities in more than 30 international and national conferences and schools.
Several students have done master and PhD theses under the supervision of Giuseppe Falini. Many of them are now employed in Italian industries or are doing their PhD or PostDoc in national and foreign Universities. Currently, he is mentoring two PhD students. Erasmus and International Masters students are visiting for periods the lab of Giuseppe Falini carrying out researches in biomineralization and protein crystallization process.

Since the beginning of his career GF has addressed crucial question in the field of biomineralization and macromolecular crystallography.
1.In 1996 he did a pioneer work on the control of calcium carbonate polymorphism in mollusk shells (Falini et al. 1996, Science). GF first demonstrated, in opposition to what believed in that time, that the organisms can control polymorphism only by using specific proteins in a controlled environment. After this groundbreaking study a plethora of publications has addressed the field (more than 1100 citations, among them about 20 in Nature and Science).
2. GF has also studied the deposition of calcium phosphate in enamel. It was well known that deposition of enamel involves a family of proteins called amelogenin. The research carried out by his team, in collaboration with researcher of the University of Southern California, has demonstrated that these proteins undergo to a hierarchical process of aggregation controlling the oriented deposition of calcium phosphate (Du et al. 2005, Science, more than 300 citations).

Nowadays, GF is addressing the study of biomineralization addressing the effects of ocean acidification. This study concerns mainly corals and some calcifying algae.

3. GF demonstrated that the ocean acidification affect only the macrostructure of the coral skeleton (Fantazzini et al. 2015, Nature Commun.), while changes the mineralogy of calcified algae (Goffredo at al. 2014, Nature Climate Changes). These studies have clearly showed as the effects of ocean acidification on calcifying marine organisms are related to the degree of biological control that organisms exert on the calcification process. In the organisms having the higher level of control the calcification process is not affected by ocean acidification. This important discovery indicates that the organisms most complex from the biological point of view are the most affected by ocean acidification.
4. GF has recently started to prepare new biomaterials from natural biopolymers using an approach based on the partial de-structuring of the hierarchical organization of biopolymers and their controlled re-assembly. This approach has been applied to chitin (Ianiro et al, 2014, Marine Drugs) and is going to be used also to the byssus from Mytilus galloprovincialis and seashells. This innovative approach lets to preserve in the synthetic material many of the unique chemical, physical and mechanical properties of natural biomaterials.

The research of GF and his colleagues sought attention of industries. The Hidelberg-Italcementi group, the biggest European company for the production of cements, has collaborated with the GF group for  production of cements based on the application of biomineralization principles.

Grants Awarded (last 5 years)
2010-2016 European Research Council (co-PI) under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC grant agreement no. 249930 (CoralWarm: Corals and global warming: the Mediterranean versus the Red Sea). (€ 3,354,000)
2011-2013 Italcementi ITG group “Develop of New Grinding Aids” (€ 85,000)
2013-2015 Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy Binational project Italy-Israel “CaFuMa”(€ 40,000)
2014-present Member of Graphene Flagship Consortium (€ 80,000 per year)

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