Every second year, the BIONORICA Phytoneering Award acknowledges outstanding research in the field of development and application of phytopharmaceutical products.
This year at the GA conference in Dublin in July 2023, the prestigious Bionorica Phytoneering Award was bestowed to a group of three highly successful female scientists, namely Dr. Eleni V. Mikropoulou, Dr. Theodora Nikou, and her team leader Assoc.-Prof. Dr. Maria Halabalaki in recognition of their excellent research focusing on metabolomic analysis of medicinal plants and their active constituents.
The awardees developed and applied analytical methods for qualitative and quantitative characterization of plant extracts, mainly from olive oil and Chios mastix gum. They used metabolomics approaches for the discovery of biomarkers and the investigation of mechanism of action of small molecules as well as metabolism studies.
Maria Halabalaki is an Assoc. Professor at the Division of Pharmacognosy and Natural Products Chemistry of the Pharmacy Department of National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA). To date, she has been the author of > 140 papers in peer-reviewed journals and her work has been also presented in more than 60 international conferences. Also, she belongs at the coordinating team of several EU (>20) and National (>40) research programs. In 2015, she was awarded with Egon Stahl in silver, an EU medal, recognizing and promoting young scientists working in the field of Pharmacognosy (Pharmaceutical Biology) and Analytical Phytochemistry. She is a member of several National and International committees and societies e.g. in the BoD of GA society (Medicinal Plant and Natural Products Research) and Group of Experts in European Pharmacopoeia (EDQM – working group 13A for Herbal Drugs and Herbal Drug Preparation). The recent years, her scientific interests focus on the development and application of analytical methods for qualitative and quantitative characterization of plant extracts, foods, nutraceuticals, cosmetics and cosmeceuticals, dereplication methods; quality control aspects; quantification of small molecules in biological fluids; metabolomics approaches for the discovery of biomarkers and investigation of mechanism of action of small molecules as well as metabolism studies.
Dr. Theodora Nikou is a Post-Doctoral researcher at the Division of Pharmacognosy and Natural Products Chemistry of the Pharmacy Department of National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, in Greece. Theodora obtained her bachelor’s degree in biotechnology in 2013 and her master’s in “Pharmacognosy and Chemistry Natural Products” in 2016. The same year she started her PhD and won a three-years scholarship for PhD implementation from the State Scholarship Foundation of Greece. During her PhD she was also seconded to a Spanish company under the frame of an EU project. In 2019, she defended her thesis with title “Mass spectrometry based metabolomics for mapping and quality control of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO). Evaluation of EVOO marker compounds in animal and human studies”. Since then, she continues her research focusing on the development of mass spectrometry methodologies and the investigation of natural products metabolism with in vitro models, animal and human studies. Until today, she has participated in more than 20 national and international conferences with oral and poster presentations, she is author of 14 papers, while she also has released and application note with a global manufacturer of scientific instruments.
Dr. Eleni V. Mikropoulou is a Post-Doctoral researcher at the Division of Pharmacognosy and Natural Products Chemistry of the Pharmacy Department of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA), Greece. In 2015, she obtained her bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy from NKUA, where she also obtained her master’s degree in Natural Products Chemistry in 2017. For her PhD studies in the Division of Pharmacognosy and Natural Products Chemistry of the Department of Pharmacy of the NKUA, which were successfully completed in 2022, she received a 3-year Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) grant entitled “Studies in metabolomics and metabolism of natural products”. Her research interests include the development and application of mass spectrometry-based metabolomics approaches in biological fluids and animal tissues for the investigation of the role of natural products on metabolic disorders and the discovery of related biomarkers. So far, she has completed four secondments in three European countries within the framework of international research projects, she has more than 15 participations in international scientific conferences, and she has co-authored 11 publications in peer-reviewed journals.