Vasiliki Tsikourkitoudi

Vasiliki Tsikourkitoudi

Postdoctoral researcher

I am currently working on rational development of nanoparticles in order to be used as drug carriers for biological drugs for a variety of therapeutic applications (infections, cancer, etc).

About me

I am a Chemical Engineer graduated from the National Technical University of Athens (2010). I performed my MSc studies in Materials Science and Technology in the Research Unit of Advanced, Composite, Nano Materials & Nanotechnology in the same university (2010-2012). In 2012, I moved to northern Spain where I was employed in Technological Centre L’UREDERRA as a Process Engineer elaborating an industrial PhD under Marie Sklodowska-Curie ITN MANANO project (EC under grant agreement No. 264710) working on Flame Spray Pyrolysis (FSP) process optimization for synthesis of nanoparticles with desired properties. I received her PhD in 2016 from Kingston University of London. I then carried out postdoctoral research stay in Physics Department of University of Ioannina, Greece (Nanomaterials Lab-FSP). I joined Karolinsia Institutet (Prof. Georgios Sotiriou’s lab) in 2019 and I am currently working on nanoparticle-drug conjugates for drug delivery. I have published 15 scientific publications and presented my scientific results in various scientific international conferences.

Research description

During my studies as a Chemical Engineer, I have been intrigued by nanotechnology and its applications. Thus, during my research “journey”, I decided to explore this emerging field. Nanomaterials have demonstrated unique properties that allow fabrication of highly performing devices for various applications (batteries, sensors, catalysts, drug delivery to name a few). My research interests are centered on the synthesis of advanced tailored nanomaterials by a scalable and highly reproducible nanomanufacturing process, flame spray pyrolysis (FSP). As the processing conditions are highly affecting the properties of the obtained nanomaterials and consequently their performance in the final applications, I am highly interested in investigating this structure-property relationship. Regarding the application of the produced nanomaterials, my research interests involve, but are not limited to, batteries, catalysts, sensors and drug delivery.

Flame-made nanocarriers for delivery of biological drugs

Nanoparticles have attracted interest in biomedicine as efficient drug carriers due to their high surface-to-volume ratio (large surface area/small size) that permits their interaction with similarly sized biological moieties. Drug delivery systems based on nanoparticles have been considered as a promising strategy to improve delivery of biologics (proteins, peptides, antibodies, nucleotides). Biologics are a rapidly growing class of drugs for long-term medical illnesses/conditions due to their safety, target specificity & selectivity compared to traditional small-molecule drugs. However, they are highly susceptible to enzymatic degradation, they tend to aggregate, & their relatively large size & hydrophilicity limit their transport across epithelial layers. Thus, nanoparticles have been proposed as efficient carriers in order to address these challenges. Despite the scientific interest of nanoparticle based drug delivery systems, there are still barriers for their clinical translation, such as complex synthesis methods that cannot be reproduced and the poor loading efficiency of biologics that are not functional after loading. Our research aims to tackle the unmet medical need regarding targeted delivery of biologics by engineering biocompatible nanocarriers by an aerosol process (Flame Spray Pyrolysis) and address challenges regarding insufficient stability and low drug loading capacity. Flame Spray Pyrolysis is an auspicious process that is intrinsically scalable and  reproducible in order to promote the translation of nanoscale biomaterials into medical products.

I am currently working on the (i) rational engineering of flame-made nanoparticles with tailored properties (i.e. chemical structure, size, crystallinity, surface characteristics) by Flame Spray Pyrolysis, (ii) design of novel nanoparticle-biological drug conjugates with enhanced drug loading and (iii) evaluation of the drug release in vitro with relevant cell lines & assays.

Education

PhD (2016) Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing, Kingston University of London, UK

MSc (2012) Materials Science & Technology, School of Chemical Engineering, National Technical University of Athens, Greece.

Diploma (2010) School of Chemical Engineering, National Technical University of Athens, Greece.

Academic honours, awards and prizes

  • 2016 Award in the 3rd Panhellenic Lymphatic Conference for best oral presentation.
  • 2016 PhD Completion bursary awarded from the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing Kingston University
  • 2015 Best poster award in Symposium N of E-MRS Spring Meeting (May 11-15, Lille).
  • 2015 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Alumni Association travel grant.
  • 2012-2015 Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship for my PhD studies.
  • 2011-2012 Fellowship for my MSc studies from Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefits Foundation
  • 2010 Thomaidio Award from the National Technical University of Athens for scientific presentation.
  • 2007 “Chris Papakyriakopoulos” award from the National Technical University of Athens.
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