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Natural products: applications, formulations

Extend the knowledge of the application of formulation technologies on natural products: from theory to practice

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CIVIS focus area
Open to
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's
  • Phd
  • PhD candidates/students
Field of studies
  • Medicine and Health
  • Blended Intensive Programmes (BIP)
Course dates
1 October - 21 October 2024

This multidisciplinary collaborative BIP Program includes five CIVIS member Universities (University of Bucharest, Sapienza Università di Roma, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Aix-Marseille University, and University of Tübingen) and three CIVIS African partner Universities (Eduardo Mondlane University-Mozambique, University of the Witwatersrand-South Africa, and Makerere University-Uganda). The main objective of this proposal is to provide and share the current knowledge-research of four basic domains: Chemistry of Natural Products, Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical Technology and Pharmacokinetics.

Main topics addressed

Participants will be exposed to various aspects that will allow to improve their knowledge and connect theory with practical courses (i.e., different research labs/wet labs), focusing on:

  • Chemistry of natural products
  • Application of medicinal plants
  • Main principles of pharmaceutical technology
  • Formulation of natural products
  • Quality by Design approach
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacokinetics 

Learning outcomes

A. General outcomes

The BIP program focuses on the development of critical thinking and transdisciplinarity, as well as promotes team spirit and an international mentality among participants. The participants from different universities will be able to create important networking opportunities, having the chance to meet and discuss with distinguished scientists from academia/ non-academia, as well as from industries with the scope of creating bonds for future collaborations. Moreover, this program will also consolidate the role and impact of research in societies, willing to connect universities, industry, and society.

B.  Learning outcomes

Students will learn and improve their knowledge on:

  • Important natural products and their applications
  • The phytochemistry
  • Natural products currently used as anticancer agents, as well as the combination of traditional medicine and modern approaches in the drug discovery of anticancer compounds
  • How to conduct ethnopharmacological studies to obtain information from holders of indigenous traditional
  • The process of bioprospecting from medicinal plants in the process of drug discovery, the challenges and future prospects.
  • The fundamental aspects of developing a controlled release polymer/mosquito-repellent drug-delivery device from nanostructured polymers to reduce infectious tropical diseases.
  • Hydrogel film production for wound care, investigate the impact of various formulations on hydrogel properties, and learn how to assess the antioxidant qualities of plant extracts compared to synthetic drugs in hydrogel membranes.
  • The preformulation studies and formulation of various dosage forms
  • How to select the best dosage form
  • A Quality-by-Design (QbD) approach to pharmaceutical product development describing the operations in pharmaceutical manufacturing, stability, quality control, materials handling, packaging, and basic unit operations.
  • Antibiotic target areas, classical and new molecular targets, methods for their elucidation
  • Essential oils (EOs) and natural phenols (NP) extraction methods from plants - the trends in the matter, the current and forward-looking approaches in antimicrobial therapy (such as efflux pumps, quorum sensing) based on EOs, and NP.
  • The main types of nanoparticles and their applications in drug delivery and targeting.
  • The biopharmaceutics issues of the administration of natural products and the technological approaches, including nanocarriers to overcome these limits and optimize the therapy
  • How a new natural extract or product could be evaluated for its potential efficacy and/or toxicity on skin
  • 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
Dates: 1 October 2024 - 21 October 2024 Total workload: 100 hours
Format: Blended ECTS: 4*

Location: Athens, Greece

Language: English (B2)



*Recognition of ECTS depends on your home university.

Physical mobility

The physical mobility part will be running from 7 to 11 October 2024 In Athens, Greece (Department of Pharmacy, School of Health Sciences, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)

During the physical component, the participants will be able to combine theory with practice through working to small laboratory exercises in collaboration with local Ph.D. and master’s students-volunteers. They will work on small laboratory exercises in which different laboratory techniques widely used in Chemistry of Natural Products and Pharmaceutical Technology will be shown. Furthermore, the participants will be able to create important networking opportunities, having the chance to meet and discuss with distinguished scientists with the scope of creating bonds for future collaborations. 

Virtual part

During the virtual component, the participants will be able to learn the basic theory of the four domain:

  • Chemistry of Natural Products
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Pharmaceutical Technology

General-basic and applied lectures, as well as pre-recorded presentations will be provided. Specifically the virtual program will be: 1-4/10/2024, 14-18/10/2024 & 21/10/2024.


This course is open to Bachelor's and Master's students at CIVIS member universities, with an academic background and an interest in the following fields of study: 

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacognosy
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacokinetics
  • Pharmaceutical Technology
  •  Nanotechnology

Participants should also have a good level of written and spoken English (B2) and skills such as:

  • Critical thinking
  • Team spirit
  • Good Laboratory practices

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.

This course is also open to students with the same academic profile, who are enrolled at a CIVIS strategic partner university in Africa. Please check here, if you can apply and this particular course is open to applications from your university. Successful applicants will be nominated for an Erasmus+ grant covering travel and subsistence costs during their stay. Erasmus+ grant rules apply. Applicants should be willing to extend their stay at the host university for 1-3 weeks for additional research and/or training purposes.

Application process

Send your application by filling in the online application form by 28 April 2024. Don't forget to also include:

  • CV

  • Motivation Letter

  • Language Requirement: English (B2 level)

The applications will be evaluated according to the:

  • Quality, clarity and detail of motivation
  • clarity of the CV

Apply now


The evaluation will be through the student’s participation in the lectures and the lab work exercises of digital and physical activity. In addition, the students will be evaluated by their literature research & 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 partners

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens-NKUA:

-Helen Skaltsa, Professor of Pharmacognosy and Chemistry of Natural Products, Department of Pharmacy, NKUA, has 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 210 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).

- 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 110 publications in peer-reviewed international journals, 15 chapters in scientific books, and more than 100 presentations at Greek and International Conferences (Scopus h-index:18).

- 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 29; 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 44 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.

- Nefeli Lagopati is an Assistant Professor in Biology-Nanomedicine at the Laboratory of Biology, at the Medicine School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA). She performed her PhD at the Faculty of Biology, NKUA in cooperation with the NCSR "Demokritos". She has graduated from the Faculty of Physics, NKUA and received a MSc in Radiation Physics and a MSc in Advanced Materials. Among her research interests is the field of nanomedicine in cancer treatment. She served as a Substitute board member of the Hellenic Public Health Organization and as a consultant of the General Secretariat for Research and Innovation. Her work is reflected in a significant number of scientific publications and presentations in Congresses/Conferences.

-Vangelis D. Karalis is Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacy - Pharmacokinetics at the Department of Pharmacy, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. He holds a BSc in Clinical Pharmacy, an MSc in Clinical Pharmacy, and a PhD in Pharmacokinetics. His research interests span the application of data science in clinical and pharmaceutical research, modeling in drug research and development, bioequivalence studies, in silico clinical trials, and artificial intelligence. Dr. Karalis possesses advanced computational skills, demonstrating proficiency in programming across various languages and the use of a wide range of software.

-Marilena Vlachou is an Associate Professor at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece. She has supervised numerous undergraduate students research diplomas, MSc dissertations, PhD theses and postdoctoral researchers’ work. She has published 75 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presented her research work, as an invited speaker/participant, in more than 80 scientific conferences, and she is the authoress of 7 book chapters. She has evaluated a large number of research articles submitted to renowned journals, and has been the assessor of numerous research programs/proposals. She has been in charge or has participated in 14 competitive research programs. 

-Efstathia Ioannou is Associate Professor at the Department of Pharmacy at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. She received an Integrated Master’s degree from the Department of Agricultural Biotechnology at the Agricultural University of Athens in 2003 and obtained her MSc and PhD degrees from the Department of Pharmacy at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in 2005 and 2009, respectively. She carried out postdoctoral research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (UCSD, CA, USA), before returning to Greece in 2010 to take up a lectureship at the Department of Pharmacy (NKUA). Her research activities focus on the isolation, structure elucidation and biological activity evaluation of natural products mainly from marine macro- and microorganisms.

- Dr. Stefanos Kikionis is a chemist with a PhD degree in organic chemistry. Currently, he is a postdoctoral fellow at the Section of Pharmacognosy and Chemistry of Natural Products, Department of Pharmacy, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and a committee member of the Phytochemical Society of Europe. His current research focuses on the isolation, characterization and exploitation of bioactive secondary metabolites and biopolymers from marine organisms as well as the investigation and development of nanofibrous bioactive scaffolds from marine natural products for drug release, wound healing and tissue engineering applications.

-Ekaterina-Michaela Tomou (M.Sc., Ph.D.) is a postdoctoral researcher at the 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, 38 publications, and more than 15 presentations at scientific conferences (oral and poster presentations). She was a Fulbright Scholar (2019-2020) at Harvard Medical School.

-Paraskevi Papakyriakopoulou is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the Department Pharmacy (NKUA) and the School of Chemical Engineering (NTUA). She received her Doctorate in October 2023, which was funded by the Hellenic Foundation for Research & Innovation and focused on the development and in vitro/ in vivo evaluation of nasal films as nose-to-brain delivery systems in neurodegenerative diseases. She has participated in the Erasmus Traineeship program both as a recent graduate at the University of Ferrara and as a PhD student at Trinity College of Dublin, respectively. Additionally, she is a co-author of 20 publications in esteemed peer-reviewed journals. Her work has been presented in several poster and oral presentations, and she has received the Best Abstract Award in the PharmSci360 conference of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists.

-Dr. Maria Chountoulesi graduated in 2015 from the Depart. Pharmacy of NKUA, received in 2017 her master degree in “Industrial Pharmacy” and in 2020 her PhD in Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology, from the same department. She has participated in research programmes, in collaboration with greek pharmaceutical industry. She has already published 29 papers in peer-reviewed international journals, 5 chapters in scientific books and presented more than 35 presentations in conferences. She has been awarded with PhD Scholarship, implemented by the State Scholarships Foundation, with Erasmus+ Traineeship Fellowship and with 2022-Rigaku-ICTAC Promising Researcher Award, by the International Confederation for Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry.


University of Bucharest

- Eliza Oprea is a researcher and associate professor at the University of Bucharest with two Bachelor's Degrees (Chemistry and Pharmacy). She has co-authored over 60 publications (according to Web of Science) in Pharmacology, Microbiology, and Biochemistry, three book chapters, and seven books, and she has delivered more than 40 scientific communications at conferences. She has concerns evaluating biological properties (antimicrobial, antioxidant, hypoglycaemic, cicatrizing, and phytotoxic activity) of extracts from different sources through in vivo and in vitro studies. She also obtained and characterized phenolic compound extracts and essential oils from plants by various methods.

-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) study of the pro-oxidant and antioxidant activity of organic compounds, iii) the molecular mechanisms involved in Saccharomyces cerevisiae cells' response to environmental stress, iv) hydrogels for monitoring and healing of wounds. She has 46 ISI publications and participations as researcher in 10 national grants and 2 international grants, h-index 15 (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 Internationalization 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 Internationalization and Cooperation of the Spanish Conference of Rectors, CRUE and elected member of the Steering Committee of UNICA.


Sapienza Università di Roma

- Daniela De Vita, professor (Sapienza University of Rome), is working in the field of extraction and isolation of bioactive compounds from plants, food waste and by-products, and their analysis by chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques. She is lecturer of Pharmaceutical Botany and Biology, and courses at the Doctoral Programs. She supervised Ph. D., M. Sc. and diploma theses. She is Editor in Chief of the section Natural Products of Pharmaceuticals and member of the editorial board of Natural Product Research and Annali di Botanica. She is author of 72 publications in international journals and communications at national and international congresses.


University of Tübingen

Prof. Heike Brötz-Oesterhelt (EKUT) is a microbiologist working in antibacterial drug discovery in the academic as well as in the pharmaceutical industry setting for more than 25 years. After her PhD, she joined the Anti-Infectives Department of Bayer HealthCare, evaluating novel targets, developing lead structures and heading project teams in structure optimization campaigns. After 8 years in “big pharma”, she co-founded the Biotech company AiCuris, Wuppertal, Germany. In 2010, she returned to academia as a professor for Pharmaceutical Biology at the University of Duesseldorf, and since 2014 she is full professor for Microbiology at the University of Tübingen heading the Department of Microbial Bioactive Compounds. Currently, she is managing director of the Interfaculty Institute of Microbiology and Infection Medicine, Tübingen, speaker of the Transregional Collaborative Research Centre TRR261 “Molecular Mechanism of Antibiotic Action and Production”, co-speaker of the Cluster of Excellence “Controlling Microbes to Fight Infection” (both funded by the German Research Organisation DFG) as well as deputy speaker of the partner site Tuebingen within the German Center of Infection Research (DZIF). She successfully supervised 7 PhDs (plus further 10 PhD candidates in progress), 27 MSc / BSc and authored 76 publications (H-index 37, >6000 citations) plus approx.10 patents. Heike Brötz-Oesterhelt is particularly interested in molecular mechanisms of new antibiotic lead structures and operation modes of novel antibiotic targets.


Aix-Marseille University

Prof. Ling PENG is a research director in the Interdisciplinary Center on Nanoscience in Marseille (CINaM) at the French National Scientific Research Center (CNRS) in France. She is a leading scientist in dendrimer science and has pioneered the concept of self-assembling supramolecular dendrimers for delivering drugs, nucleic acid therapeutics and imaging agents. Her research team has been labelled by La Ligue Contre Le Cancer in France since 2016. Dr. Ling PENG was awarded with the Prize of Dr & Mme Henri Labbé of the French Academy of Sciences and the Distinguished Member of French Chemical Society.


CIVIS African partner

Makerere University (Uganda)

Dr. Anywar Godwin lectures at Makerere University, with over 12 years’ experience and over 70 publications in ethnopharmacology, ethnobotany and pharmacognosy. He is a member of several international bodies and academic editor, PlosOne and frontiers in Pharmacology. He is a Science Advice Skills mentor at the International Network for Government Science Advice and the African Academy of Sciences. He is a fellow of the: Global Young Academy, Carnegie Corporation of New York - American Studies Association, Africa Science Leadership Programme, and Uganda Academy of Sciences and the vice president Natural Products Network for Eastern & Central Africa Uganda Chapter.

Eduardo Mondlane University (Mozambique)

Hermínio Muiambo (UEM) is an Associate Professor in material sciences. He has been working with multidisciplinary research groups from South Africa, Italy and Germany in joint collaboration projects. As supervisor he has worked with several Master and Diploma Students at UEM and collaborates with 2 South African Universities as External Examiner. Through his work, 20 peer reviewed and 3 books were published (h-index: 7; citations >260). He’s affiliated to 3 professional organizations and speaks Portuguese and English. He has served as Deputy Dean for Research and Extension, at the Faculty of Sciences, from 2019 to 2023, and is currently Director for Planning, Quality Assurance and Institutional Studies at UEM.

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Professor Yahya Choonara is internationally recognized as a pharmaceutical scientist at the forefront of teaching, researching and producing life-saving medicines that have an impact on infectious, hereditary and lifestyle diseases for 17 years. He is the Director of the Wits Advanced Drug Delivery Platform (WADDP) Research Unit at Wits University and also the Tier 1 South African Research Chair in Pharmaceutical Sciences. He received the SA Top IP Creator Award for his 28 granted patents and authored more than 357 ISI-accredited publications (H-index=55; >12200 citations). He has also mentored, supervised, and graduated more than 110 postgraduates and postdoctoral fellows in the field.