Principal Radiopharmaceutical Scientist @ POWH
Giancarlo obtained his degree in Chemistry from the University of Pisa (Italy, 2001) and his PhD in "Innovative Biomedical Technologies" from the University of Lecce (Italy, 2004). During PhD, he worked at IFC-CNR (Pisa, Italy) and at NIH (Bethesda, MD, USA), under the supervision of Piero A. Salvadori and William C. Eckelman, studying novel radiolabelling methods for PET tracers. He then worked in the Clinical Chemistry environment (managing toxicology analysis laboratory, 2004-2008, University of Pisa) before returing to work in the radiochemistry field. He was Key Scientist for the EU funded "Radiochemistry On Chip" project (2008-2011) and worked as Staff Scientist at IFC-CNR (2008-2013, Pisa, Italy). During these years, he also worked in GMP facilities for the production of PET radiopharmaceuticals (Milan, Pisa), covering also the role of QC Manager. In 2013 Giancarlo moved to ANSTO in Australia, in the role of Radiochemistry Team Leader at the Camperdown cyclotron site; from 2020, he is covering a Principal Radiopharmaceutical Scientist role at the POWH, and been appointed Fellow for the National Imaging Facility and Conjoint Associate Professor at the School of Chemistry in UNSW.
Giancarlo's research interest are focused on radiochemical development and radiopharmaceutical applications. His projects are characterized by the M3 keywords: Molecules, Methods, Machines.
Molecular Imaging represents a set of technologies that allow following the distribution and accumulation of appropriately tagged molecules in vivo; UNSW is fully equipped for performing this type of studies through the capabilities available at BRIL. The Nuclear imaging counterpart is particularly sensitive and specific, but requires the molecule of interest to be tagged with a radioisotope; this means that an appropriate design of the structure and of its synthesis is required. Under this research topic, Giancarlo is interested in designing the modification needed to obtain a useful radiopharmaceutical, as well as exploring new ways to study the biochemical correlates of disease conditions, such as cancer, dementia, inflammation and infection.
Introducing a radioactive isotope (i.e. radiolabelling) onto a specific position in a structure is not always possible for many reasons (e.g. time constraints, stoichiometry, chemioselectivity); such capability also strongly depends on the physical and chemical characteristics of the starting radioisotope and final target structure. Under this research topic, Giancarlo investigates novel methodologies to introduce, in the most specific, mild and easy way, radioisotopes useful for Nuclear Imaging. Main interests are in 18F and 11C, but also other nuclides are investigated (e.g. radioiodines, radiometals). A particular focus is given on "novel" ways to activate reactions, such as photochemistry, electrochemistry and mechanochemistry.
Working with radioisotopes natively requires a high level of automation, to guarantee safety for the operator and the highest process reliability possible. Given the ultimate clinical interest of radiopharmaceuticals, it is crucial to setup processes that can provide such important and sometime life-saving treatments without faults. For this reason, Giancarlo has a keen interest in investigating novel ways to make automated (radio)chemistry easier, safer and more reliable. Following this topic, he is one of the pioneers for the use of microfluidic systems in radiochemistry and keeps working on this, as well as educating new generations to the implementation of diverse chemical processes (e.g. reaction, metal separation, purification, formulation) on flow systems.