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From medicinal plants to drug products

Extend your knowledge of the theory and laboratory practices of medicinal plants to drug products

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CIVIS focus area
Open to
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
  • PhD
Field of studies
  • Medicine and Health
  • Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP)
Course dates
18 September - 6 October 2023

Over the years, medicinal plants have played a determinant role in drug discovery and therapeutics. Accumulated studies have investigated their bioactive chemical constituents and beneficial effects. However, important challenges could have emerged in the natural products-based drug discovery and development, which are directly associated with their pharmacological activity and efficacy.

This Blended Intensive Programme is organised by 4 CIVIS member Universities (University of Bucharest, Sapienza Università di Roma, Universidad Autónome de Madrid, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens), 1 CIVIS African partner university (Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar-Senegal) and 4 other partners (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy, University of Florence, and University of Pretoria-South Africa).

Main topics addressed

This Blended Intensive Programme consists of sharing the current knowledge about medicinal plants and herbal products in order to provide a deeper insight into:

  • Chemistry of medicinal plants
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Pharmaceutical technology
  • Applications and safety
  • Chemoinformatics

Learning outcomes

Students will learn and improve their knowledge on:

  • Important medicinal plants and their applications.
  • The biosynthesis of specific chemical categories like phenolics and methods of their isolation and identification.
  • The organic synthesis and isolation and characterisation of natural compounds.
  • The principles of the inflammatory process focusing on the contribution and the pharmacological exploitation of the endogenous inflammatory/immune mediator pathways. Their value as drug targets in classical therapeutic approaches and in the era of personalized and precision medicine will be highlighted. 
  • The basic hematopoiesis, experimental models to study physiological and pathological hematopoiesis, response to exogenous chemical compounds and effects of medicinal-derived compounds.
  • The main types of nanoparticles and their applications in drug delivery and targeting. Emphasis will be given to their added value for the loading and release of natural products and extracts.
  • The biopharmaceutics issues of the administration of natural products and the technological approaches, including nanocarriers to overcome these limits and optimize the therapy.
  • The preparation and characterisation of hydrogel dressing for monitoring and treatment of wounds. 
  • How a new natural extract or product could be evaluated for its potential efficacy and/or toxicity on skin.
  • How medicinal plants have been implemented to treat skin ailments, diseases and cancer.
  • The main in silico approaches relevant to natural compounds. Students will be able to critically judge papers based on in silico methods, to form a reasoned opinion on their credibility.
  • The use and safety of herbal medicinal products carefully interpreting the monographs and the claims of the European Medicine Agency (EMA).
  • In vivo bioavailability and serum and tissue pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics, of orally administered natural products, as well as possible alternative routes of administration.
  • Application of 3D printing and design of experiments for pharmaceutical products development.
  • The most important sources of bioactive compounds, the processes, and the challenges in the production of pharmaceutical and nutraceutical from waste and by-products.
  • Different laboratory techniques widely used in Chemistry of Natural Products and Pharmaceutical Technology. 
Dates: 18 September - 6 October 2023 Total workload: 100 hours
Format: Blended ECTS: 4
Location: Athens, Greece Language: English (B2) 

Recognition of ECTS depends on your home university. 

Contact points

Should you have any questions, please reach out to the organisers of this Blended Intensive Programme. 

  • Organiser: Prof. H. Skaltsa, Department of Pharmacy, School of Health Sciences, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) (
  • Co-organiser: Post-doctorate researcher Dr. E-M Tomou, CIVIS Ambassador 2021-2022, Department of Pharmacy, School of Health Sciences, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA) (

Physical mobility

The physical mobility part will be running from 2 to 6 October 2023 in Athens, Greece, at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. It will consist of the following activities:

  • Lectures by local and visiting professors from the CIVIS alliance, African partners, and from non-CIVIS partners
  • Round table discussions with academic and non-academic experts as guest speakers
  • Young researcher talks
  • Literature research & presentations
  • 3 lab work exercises
  • Industry visit: participants will visit a pharmaceutical industry related to the program

Virtual part

The virtual part will be running from 18 to 29 September 2023. It will be structured as follows: 

From 18 to 22 September 2023 

  • General-basic and applied lectures and pre-recorded presentations on medicinal plants, on chemistry, pharmacology, nanotechnology, chemoinformations (2h/day)
  • Literature research (4h/day)

From 25 to 29 September 2023

  • General-basic lectures, pre-recorded presentations, and young researcher talks on the research and application of medicinal plants (2h/day)
  • Literature research (4h/day)


This course is open to Bachelor's, Master and PhD students at CIVIS member universities enrolled in the following fields of study or related: Pharmacy, Pharmacognosy, Pharmacology, Dermopharmacology, Pharmacokinetics, Pharmaceutical Technology, Nanotechnology, Chemoinformatics.

A B2 level of English is required. 

NB: Visiting Students - Erasmus Funding Eligibility

To be eligible for your selected CIVIS programme, you must be a fully enrolled student at your CIVIS home university at the time you will be undertaking the programme. Click here to learn more about the eligibility criteria.

Application process

Interested students should apply by filling in the online application form by 28 February 2023.

Applications will be evaluated based on the CV and the motivation letter.

Apply now


The assessment will be based on the students' participation in the lectures and the lab work exercises, during the digital and the physical parts.

In addition, the students will be evaluated based on their literature research and their presentations on a related subject.

Blended Intensive Programme

This CIVIS course is a Blended Intensive Programme (BIP): a new format of Erasmus+ mobility which combines online teaching with a short trip to another campus to learn alongside students and professors across Europe. Click here to learn more about CIVIS BIPs.

GDPR Consent

The CIVIS alliance and its member universities will treat the information you provide with respect. Please refer to our privacy policy for more information on our privacy practices. By applying to this course you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

CIVIS member universities

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA)

Helen Skaltsa, Professor of Pharmacognosy and Chemistry of Natural Products, Department of Pharmacy, NKUA, been working in the field of chemistry of natural products and pharmacognosy for 40 years. She is Editor-in Chief of Phytochemistry, one of the leading international journals in the research field. She supervised 16 Ph.D., 60 M.Sc. and many diploma theses, while more are in progress. She has 190 publications in international scientific journals and more than 200 presentations in Congresses/Conferences (h-index:42; citations >5000). She was Vice Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy, NKUA (2017-2020).

Georgia Valsami, Professor of Biopharmaceutics & Pharmacokinetics, Department of Pharmacy, NKUA. Her research activities focus on: i) drug protein and macromolecule binding and effect on drug solubility/dissolution/absorption, ii) development of novel dosage forms with optimized absorption, iii) pre-clinical and clinical PK/PD studies, iv) development/validation/application of analytical methods for drug assay in biological fluids, v) individualization of drug therapy. She has contributed to numerous peer reviewed journal articles, conferences presentations and lectures at National and International conferences (h-index 27; citations >2500). She has contributed to numerous research programs funded by National and EU organisations.

Katerina Tiligada, Professor of Experimental Pharmacology, Medical School, NKUA, where she established and coordinates the Immunopharmacology unit. Her research focuses on the inflammatory and immune-related processes, cellular stress response and drug hypersensitivity reactions. She has published over 100 peer reviewed papers and 10 book chapters. She is President of the European Histamine Research Society, NC-IUPHAR, Corresponding Member of the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology/BSP Guide to PHARMACOLOGY and Editorial board member of the British Journal of Pharmacology. She served as Vice Chair of the Immunopharmacology Section of IUPHAR; Observer in the Rheumatology-Immunology Working Party - European Medicines Agency.

Michail Christou Rallis is Αssociate Professor of Pharmaceutical Technology, Department of Pharmacy, NKUA. He is working in the field of dermatopharmacology and cosmetology. He studies the treatment of different skin diseases at a preclinical level. He is a member of “Oxygen Club of California” and “Society of Free Radical Research -Europe”. He supervised 5 PhD thesis (and 3 are in progress) and many Master and Diploma Thesis. He has 43 publications in international scientific journals and more than 138 presentations in international congresses. He is a conference organizer of the “Oxidative stress in skin biology and medicine” international congress.

Eleni Tsintavi is a Chemical Engineer from the University of Patras and holds a Ph.D. in the field of Pharmaceutical Technology from the NKUA. Her research activity includes the application of 3D printing for the development of pharmaceutical products, the three-dimensional characterization of proteins using liquid chromatography in high throughput mode for the downstream process development as well as the olive mill wastewater pretreatment with ozone in combination with anaerobic digestion. She is currently working in the Research and Development Department of the pharmaceutical company Uni-Pharma S.A., while she has previously worked in Novartis, DSM, Gap Pharmaceuticals, and Sustchem Engineering.

Natassa Pippa, Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Technology, Department of Pharmacy, NKUA. She is working in the field of pharmaceutical technology. Her experience includes the design and development of lipid-based and polymer-based nanoparticles for drug delivery and targeting. She has also knowledge in several techniques for the physicochemical, morphological, and thermodynamic characterization of drug delivery systems and nanoformulations. She is supervising 3 Ph.D. students. She has 90 publications in peer-reviewed international journals, 10 chapters in scientific books, and more than 100 presentations at Greek and International Conferences (Scopus h-index:17).

Ekaterina-Michaela Tomou (M.Sc., Ph.D.) is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Pharmacognosy & Chemistry of Natural Products, Department of Pharmacy, NKUA. Her Ph.D. project was funded by the Hellenic Foundation for Research & Innovation and her research is focused on the phytochemical analysis of various medicinal plants. She was selected as CIVIS ambassador 2021-2022 for NKUA, and she also participated in the UNICA conference 2021. So far, she has 2 chapters, 25 publications, and more than 15 presentations at scientific conferences (oral and poster presentations). She was a Fulbright Scholar (2019-2020) at Harvard Medical School.

University of Bucharest (UB)

Lavinia Ruta, lecturer, University of Bucharest, Faculty of Chemistry. She is a researcher with a double specialisation: pharmacy and chemistry. Her research is focused on: i) the applied biochemistry and molecular biology field, ii) the pro-oxidant and antioxidant activity of organic compounds, iii) the molecular mechanisms involved in Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells' response to environmental stress (metallic, oxidative), iv) on engineering yeast cells aiming to hyperaccumulate heavy metals from the environment in order to use them as potential bioremediators of wastewaters. She has 43 ISI publications and participations as researcher in 10 national grants and 2 international grants, h-index 13 (Scopus).

Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM)

Carmela Calés-Bourdet, professor, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine, UAM. Her research interests are oncogenes and cell cycle control, the role of epigenetic regulators, the effect of new antitumoral drugs in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells. She was Vice-Rector for Internationalisation and coordinator at UAM for CIVIS the last two years, Director of UAM Scientific Culture Unit, Vice-Dean for Research of the School of Medicine, Vice-Director at the IIBAS, elected member of the Executive Committee for Internationalisation and Cooperation of the Spanish Conference of Rectors, CRUE and elected member of the Steering Committee of UNICA.

Sapienza Università di Roma (SUR)

Daniela De Vita, Professor, Department of Environmental Biology, Sapienza Università di Roma. Her research activity is focused on extraction and isolation of plant metabolites with biological activity. Part of her activity is dedicated to bioactive compounds from food waste and by-products. She is teaching Pharmaceutical Botany, Pharmaceutical Biology, and in the Doctoral Program in Environmental and Evolutionary Biology. She is the Editor in Chief of the section Natural Products of Pharmaceuticals (MDPI) and member of the editorial board of Natural Product Research and Annali di Botanica. Author of 68 publications in international journals and communications at national and international congresses.

CIVIS African partner universities

Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (UCAD)

Dr Insa Seck (UCAD) is working in the field of chemistry of natural products and pharmacognosy for 10 years. Her experience includes diverse phytochemical groups from various plant species, while he has extensive knowledge of the synthesis and isolation of bio-actives compounds on bacterial infections and cancer. He is member of West Africa Chemistry Society (SOACHIM) and Senegalese Community of Chemistry (CSC). He supervised 08 M.Sc and co-supervised 5 Pharm. D and 1 PhD and 1PhD (in progress). He has 20 publications in international scientific journals, 2 Book Chapters and 10 presentations in Congresses/Conferences.

Other partners

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

Diamanto Lazari, Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. She works on the isolation, the structure elucidation and the biological activities of specialized metabolites from natural sources, mainly Greek endemic plants for more than 30 years. She has 109 publications in international peer-reviewed scientific journals and over 170 presentations in International and Greek Congresses. So far, 4 PhD and 17 M.Scs. have been completed under her supervision, while more M.Scs. and 5 PhD are in progress. She is reviewer in many International Scientific Journals.

Αnastasia Karioti, Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Teaching and Research Assistant, University of Florence (2007-2014), being engaged with the development of protocols for the preparation of European Pharmacopoeia Monographs of TCM herbal drugs. Her research activities are: i) the isolation and identification of a wide range of natural products, ii) the development of analytical methods for the quality control of herbal drugs, iii) the quality control of Greek cultivated Medicinal and Aromatic plants iv) the pharmacological evaluation of both isolated natural products and fully characterized extracts. She is author of 88 publications, h-index 28 (Scopus).

University of Florence

Anna Rita Bilia, professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Florence, working in the field of formulations and quality control of natural products. Director of the post-graduate school Hospital Pharmacy, president of the Interdepartmental Centre of Services for Biotechnologies, Italian expert at EDQM, Italian delegate of ESCOP Scientific Committee and vice-chair of the board of directors of ESCOP, former president of GA, former president of the Italian Society of Phytochemistry and Sciences of Medicinal, Food and Perfume Plants. Supervisor > 150 pharmacy degree and 7 PhD theses. She has > 260 publications in international scientific journals (Scopus h-index:44; citations >7850).

Carol Davila University Bucharest

Robert Ancuceanu, professor, Faculty of Pharmacy (Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy), being currently vice-dean.  He was director of the General Directorate for Pharmaceutics and Medical Devices (Romanian Ministry of Health), Vice-president of the Romanian National Medicines Agency, member of EMA Committee for Human Medicinal Products, of the Paediatric Committee and alternate member of the Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products, member in national pharmaceutical committees. He is a Steering group member of the TOPRA Product information and Labelling SPIN. He has > 80 scientific papers, 15 books/chapter books. He works in chemoinformatics, bioinformatics, biostatistics. H-index: 16; citations > 3800.

University of Pretoria

Namrita Lall, Professor and Research Chair, University of Pretoria. She has recently been listed as part of Stanford’s University List of the Top 2% Scientist of the World. Six start-up companies resulted from her research programme. One pharmaceutical product for skin-hyperpigmentation was commercialized internationally and another twelve are close to commercialization. She has published more than 177 research articles, 13 patents, more than 70 book chapters (h-index 47; RG score over 45, Top 5%). Among several awards, few are “The Order of Mapungubwe”, South Africa’s highest honour from the Honorable South African President Jacob Zuma, and UNESCO-L’Oreal Award for Women in Science.