Francesca Mastrotto

Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences, University of Padova
via F. Marzolo 5, 35131 Padova - Italy

Position: Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical and Technological Applications of Chemistry (CHIM09)

Phone: +39-049-827-5708
Fax:  +39-049-827-5366


  Short Cv

Francesca Mastrotto is Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical and technological applications of chemistry  in the Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences at the University of Padova.

She received a Master degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology in 2007 at the University of Padova and a PhD in Molecular Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences specialization, in 2011, at the same institution. During her PhD she participated in the Erasmus program spending 8 months at the School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham (UK, 2010). After 18 months as postdoctoral researcher in the drug delivery group at the Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences, University of Padova (2011-2012), she moved to the UK where she broadened her expertise carrying on, as research fellow, multidisciplinary research activities in the School of Pharmacy and the School of Life Science (2012-2017), at the University of Nottingham.

In 2017 she joined the Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences at the University of Padova as Lecturer.

Her research focus areas include the design and synthesis of polymeric materials for a range of pharmaceutical applications, which span from smart drug delivery systems to immunotherapy and novel anti-biofilm agents. 



Educational offer

1. Applied Pharmaceutical Chemistry - Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology, 6 ECTS credits, 48 hours frontal lessons.

2. Botanicals for healthy and cosmetic use - Technical aspects and technology of marketable phytocosmetics (part A) - 6 ECTS credits, 40 hours frontal lessons and 12 hours practice.

  Office hours

Monday-Friday 8:30-18:30

  Availability for Thesis Projects

1. Cationic polymer for nucleic acids complexation and cancer vaccine formulation.

2. Novel synthetic polysaccharides as anti-inflammatory agents.

3. Biomimetic nanoparticles for tumour targeting.

4. Generation and in vitro evaluation of novel delivery platforms for therapeutic/diagnostic radionuclides.


  Scientific Activities

In recent years, polymer-based materials have attracted increased attention in the pharmaceutical field for a range of different applications, enabling the research community to develop, among others, innovative nanomedicine, drug delivery systems and immunomodulators. Synthetic polymers offer some advantages in term of availability and properties. In fact, it is possible to synthesise multi-gram scale batches, and their physical, chemical and biological properties can be easily tuned in a broad spectrum to match the requirements of specific applications. My research interest is therefore focus on the generation of different types of polymers as tools to develop smart nanosystems able to selectively target cancer cells or bacteria. The projects deal both with the synthesis of the required materials, their physico-chemical characterisation, but also with the in vitro biological screening to assess their compatibility and efficacy.

In particular, in the last few years I have been working on:

  • engineering novel nanocarriers based on thermo- and pH-responsive polymers for either gold nanoparticles surface decoration or micelles and polymersomes assembly. These systems are thought to selectively target the tumour cell and release their cargo only at the site of the disease
  • synthetic polysaccharides, also called glycopolymers, to modulate the immune system and to prevent or treat infections.

Research products

1 patent, over 45 publications

Other activities

Member of the Controlled Release Society (CRS Italian chapter), of the Italian Chemistry Society (SCI) and of the "Associazione Docenti e Ricercatori Italiani di Tecnologie e Legislazione Farmaceutiche" – ADRITELF.

  Technical expertise

  • Organic chemistry: synthesis of ligands and small molecules.
  • Polymer synthesis: controlled radical polymerisations techniques (ATRP, RAFT).
  • Bioconjugation techniques. 
  • Formulation and characterization of nanovectors (micelles, polymersomes, liposomes, polymeric nanoparticles etc.) by traditional or innovative microfluidic techniques (Nanoassemblr)
  • Eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell cultures, murine bone marrow isolation, cell transfection and protein expression/purification, biological and immunological assays.
  • Pharmacokinetics studies.
  • Flow cytometry, Fluorescence and confocal microscopy, Transmission Electron Microscopy, Atomic Absorbance Spectroscopy, size and zeta-potential measurements, Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR).





Recent publications

  • Mariangela Garofalo, Federica Bellato, Salvatore Magliocca , Alessio Malfanti, Lukasz Kuryk, Beate Rinner , Samuele Negro , Stefano Salmaso , Paolo Caliceti and Francesca Mastrotto. Polymer Coated Oncolytic Adenovirus to Selectively Target Hepatocellular Carcinoma Cells. Pharmaceutics 2021, 13(7), 949;
  • Silvia Brunato, Francesca Mastrotto, Federica Bellato, Chiara Bastiancich, Alessandra Travanut, Mariangela Garofalo, Giuseppe Mantovani, Cameron Alexander, Veronique Preat, Stefano Salmaso, Paolo Caliceti. PEG-polyaminoacid based micelles for controlled release of doxorubicin: Rational design, safety and efficacy study. Journal of Controlled Release, 2021, 335, pp. 21–37
  • Marco Verona, Sara Rubagotti, Stefania Croci, Sophia Sarpaki, Francesca Borgna, Marianna Tosato, Elisa Vettorato, Giovanni Marzaro, Francesca Mastrotto and Mattia Asti. Preliminary Study of a 1,5-Benzodiazepine-Derivative Labelled with Indium-111 for CCK-2 Receptor Targeting. Molecules 2021, 26(4), 918;
  • Francesca Mastrotto, Chiara Brazzale, Federica Bellato, Sara De Martin, Guillaume Grange, Mohamad Mahmoudzadeh, Aniket Magarkar, Alex Bunker, Stefano Salmaso,  and Paolo Caliceti. In Vitro and in Vivo Behavior of Liposomes Decorated with PEGs with Different Chemical Features. Mol. Pharmaceutics2020, 17, 472−487.
  • Francesca Mastrotto, Federica Bellato, Valentina Andretto, Alessio Malfanti, Mariangela Garofalo, Stefano Salmaso, Paolo Caliceti. Physical PEGylation to Prevent Insulin Fibrillation. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Volume 109, Issue 1, January 2020, Pages 900-910.
  • Alessio Malfanti, Anna Scomparin,  Sabina Pozzi,  Hada Gibori, Adva Krivitsky, Rachel Blau,  Ronit Satchi-Fainaro, Francesca Mastrotto, Paolo Caliceti, Stefano Salmaso. Oligo-guanidyl targeted bioconjugates forming rod shaped polyplexes as a new nanoplatform for oligonucleotide delivery. Journal of Controlled Release, Volume 310, 28 September 2019, Pages 58-73.
  • Claudia Conte, Francesca Mastrotto, Vincenzo Taresco, Aleksandra Tchoryk, Fabiana Quaglia, Snjezana Stolnik, Cameron Alexander. Enhanced uptake in 2D- and 3D- lung cancer cell models of redox responsive PEGylated nanoparticles with sensitivity to reducing extra- and intracellular environments. Journal of Controlled Release, 2018, 277, 126-141, doi: 10.1016/j.jconrel.2018.03.01.1
  • Chiara Brazzale, Francesca Mastrotto, Paul Moody, Peter Watson, Anna Balasso, Alessio Malfanti, Giuseppe Mantovani, Paolo Caliceti, Cameron Alexander, Arwyn T. Jones, Stefano Salmaso. Control of targeting ligand display by pH-responsive polymers on gold nanoparticles mediates selective entry into cancer cells.Nanoscale, 2017, vol. 9, p. 11137-11147, doi: 10.1039/C7NR02595E. 
  • Francesca Mastrotto, Alastair F. Breen, Giovanna Sicilia, Sudaxshina Murdan, Alexander D. Johnstone, Georgina Marsh, Christine Grainger-Boultby, Noah A. Russell, Cameron Alexander, and Giuseppe Mantovani. One-pot RAFT and fast polymersomes assembly: a ‘beeline’ from monomers to drug-loaded nanovectors. Polymer Chemistry, 2016,7, 6714-6724.

  Research projects

1) Novel carriers for anti-tumor vaccination (glycocations and liposomes for nucleic acid delivery).

2) Targeted nanoparticles or small molecules for anti-cancer drug/radionuclide selective delivery to cancer cells.

3) Innovative macromolecules for the treatment of inflammatory diseases

4) Polymer-based biofilm inhibitors/disruptors.

5) Smart nanocarriers (lipid or polymer-based) loaded with anticancer drugs for tumour targeting

6) PEGylation of nanoparticles, protein and peptides.

7) Design and synthesis of novel cell penetration enhancer