Maria Letizia Focarete is Associate Professor (Science and Technology of Polymeric Materials) at the Department of Chemistry “Giacomo Ciamician”, University of Bologna (UNIBO).
She is P.I. of a research group in Polymer Science and Biomaterials which currently includes one assistant professor, two post-doc researchers, three PhD students and several master and bachelor students, as well as Erasmus and visiting researchers. She is also affiliated to the Health Sciences and Technologies – Interdepartmental Center for Industrial Research at UNIBO.
M.L.F. founded in 2006 an interdisciplinary research group on electrospinning, RGE-UNIBO whose activities are mostly focused on extending basic current knowledge for better control and optimization of the electrospinning process, implementing and tailoring the new apparatus for specific requirements and for mass production, as well as fabricating innovative engineered nanofiber assemblies from selected polymers. Technology transfer is also performed, and the electrospinning technology developed in the group are now the focus of a start-up company, where M.L.F. is member of the Scientific Advisory Board.
Her academic research interests are focused on polymeric materials and related processing technologies, for advanced biomedical and energy applications. In particular, her main scientific interest regards biomaterials and biomimetic nanostructured materials for regenerative medicine and drug delivery. Group know-how include:: (i) the study of structure-property relationships in natural and synthetic polymers, copolymers and polymer blends to design new materials with physical properties aimed to specific applications; (ii) molecular, structural, morphological, and thermo-mechanical characterization of macromolecular systems; (iii) surface functionalization and surface characterization of polymeric materials mainly pointing at biomedical applications; (iv) use of the electrospinning technology to produce innovative nanostructures.
Highly interdisciplinary research is ongoing to develop pseudo-tissue constructs intended for regenerative medicine. Research aims at optimizing biomimetic and bioactive polymeric scaffolds for specific tissue engineering applications and drug delivery. Expertise spans from artificial structure fabrication and characterization, to a deep knowledge of polymeric material properties that helps selecting the most suitable polymeric material for a given tissue engineering application.
M.L.F. authored about 90 papers on international, peer-reviewed scientific journals (including 1 Advanced Materials, 1 Nano Letters, 1 Energy and Environmental Science, 2 Biomaterials, 8 Macromolecules and 5 Biomacromolecules), overall attracting more than 2000 citations, and 3 book chapters. H-index = 28 (Web of Science). She is inventor of 8 patents or patent applications.