People in the Spotlight – Dr Monique Deon

Brazil is my homeland and the country where I am currently developing my research and teaching activities as Adjunct Professor at the Universidade Federal de Ciências da Saúde de Porto Alegre (UFCSPA).

Several years ago, I decided to undertake a Chemistry Bachelor degree program, because among the Natural Sciences, Chemistry seemed to be the most intriguing and lively for me. Since then, it is through Chemistry that I have had many transformative experiences (not only under the laboratory fumehood) and met many great colleagues and friends. Thanks to an inspiring Professor of Inorganic Chemistry from Universidade de Passo Fundo – where I obtained my Bachelor degree – I decided to pursue an academic career. Soon after, I started to work with porous silica and sol-gel processing during my Master studies, at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), under the supervision of Professor Edilson Benvenutti, one of the sol-gel exponents in Brazil.

The journey continued to include my PhD research in the same group, under the supervision of Professor Benvenutti and Professor Eliana de Menezes. During this work, the sol-gel method was used to design and tailor the porosity of mesoporous silica-based materials and to couple them with active nanoparticles such as iron oxide and gold, or active biomacromolecules such as enzymes. The exquisite control of synthesis provided by sol-gel processing allowed me to prepare magnetically recyclable nanocomposites with matched porosity for hosting active species, targeting biological applications such as antimicrobial therapy, drug delivery and biocatalysis. In 2017, a branch of this work was recognised by an “Excellent Poster Award” at the 19th International Sol-Gel Conference in Liège, Belgium. In 2018, I was granted a scholarship as visiting PhD student at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Montpellier, under the supervision of Dr. Michel Wong Chi Man and Dr. Carole Carcel. At this time, I had the opportunity to expand my knowledge on silicon chemistry, molecular architecture and controlled drug delivery. We have now developed mesoporous silica nanoparticles functionalized with supramolecular compounds for pH-responsive drug delivery.

In 2019, I joined the Nano3D group of Professor Ruy Beck as a Post-Doctoral researcher in the Faculty of Pharmacy (UFRGS). I have had the opportunity to work in the customization of the drug release profile of tablets by combining drug-loaded mesoporous silica nanoparticles with a 3D printing approach, designing personalized pharmaceutical forms from the nanoperspective up to the macroscopic scale. Since 2020, I am an Adjunct Professor at UFCSPA, in the Department of Pharmacosciences, where I have been working – often in collaboration with other research groups – in controlling silica’s porosity and surface chemistry for enhancing the physicochemical and biopharmaceutical properties of drugs, for further incorporation in 3D printed personalized topical patches for fighting infection.

I am fortunate to have crossed paths with many highly skilled and passionate science researchers who have
shared their experiences and inspired me. In my practice, I believe in collaborative and integrative work to develop science and individuals, and I hope to continue using the sol-gel tools for developing new therapeutic strat
egies to improve public health. The renowned scientist Marie Curie said that no better world could be built without improving individuals and, in my opinion, strengthening science and education is certainly a way for achieving it.