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Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche Chimiche e Farmaceutiche

Internal Structures


Section of Botany, Anthropology, Zoology

Section coordinator: Prof. Marco Arculeo 

Address: via Archirafi 18 e 38, 90123 Palermo
tel.+39 091 23891802 (contact center) - fax: +39 091 60751 – 60855 (Anthropology and Zoology)
tel.+39 091 23891201 (contact center) - fax: +39 091 6165997 (Botany)

The first location of the “Institute of Zoology” was hosted, together with the “Institute of Comparative Anatomy”, since 1862 in the old University palace in via Maqueda, formerly see of the Theatine Frs., in small rooms unsuitable for an academic institution. It was only in 1913, under the late director prof. Federico Raffaele (1898-1914), that the Institute moved in via Archirafi 18, in the Duke of Archirafi’s estate near the “Orto Botanico”. It was the first Institute of the Faculty of Science, separated from the Institute of comparative anatomy. From 1862 to date the Institute was devotedly led by professors: Pietro Doderlein (1862-1897); Nicolaus Kleinenberg (1894-1897); Federico Raffaele (1898-1914); Andrea Giardina (1915-1948); Giuseppe Reverberi (1949-1971); Giuseppina Ortolani (1972-1987); Nicolò Parrinello (1988-2002); Antonio Mazzola (2003-2007); Nicolò Parrinello (2008-2010).

Zoology studies in Palermo started at the beginning of the 13th century, with the studies in ornithology by king Frederick II. From the 19th century. Since the nineteenth century onwards, Sicily looked to the Natural Sciences with enthusiasm and lively interest, so that the desire to coordinate, to methodically describe the objects collected was born in individual scholars, to highlight the natural history of Sicily. Hence, the first Museums were founded, including the Museum of Zoology, curated and organized by Prof. Doderlein who, rearranging all the material kept in the house of the Theatine Fathers, created ichthyological, herpetological, ornithological, malacological and mammological collections. With the appointment of Prof. Reverberi as professor of Zoology, the Institute, which was in very bad conditions because of the war and the decay of the building structure, experienced a brilliant age. Thanks to his organization skills and his influential friendships, Reverberi managed to obtain financial help outside the University. The Ministry of Public Works allowed him to build new areas, enlarging the Institute more than twice. With the help of the Rockeller Foundation, new equipment for scientific research was acquired. The Institute was also provided with a new and more complete library which today hosts ca. 4600 volumes and ca. 27 active subscriptions. They are collected in zoological collections created by Doderlein and scattered along the corridors, in a single large room that became the Museum of Zoology, which still maintains the ancient architecture even if it is being renewed in the spirit of modern scientific museology. In addition, Reverberi creates a laboratory of "Experimental Embryology". In 1957 he managed to set up a new degree course at the Faculty of Sciences: the Degree Course in Biological Sciences.

At the Institute of Zoology, with the Rector's Decree No. 3020 of 17/12/96, the "Department of Animal Biology" takes over. Given the resolution of the Academic Senate n. 10 of 27/03/2006, with Rector's decree n. 1620 the Department is named "Department of Animal Biology" G. Reverberi ".

The Botany section collects Researchers previously belonging to the late Dept. of Botanical Sciences (formerly Institute of Botany).

The section collects the didactic and scientific skills relevant to the study of plantae. Its scientific activity, in particular, covers various research fields, both pure and applied, concerning the biology of plantae (including cytogenetics and biochemistry), ecophysiology, Systematic botany and phylogenetics, pharmaceutical botany, Mediterranean flora, phytogeography and Botanic ecology of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, Preservation and management of vegetal and natural resources, Environmental impact evaluation, Applied biology for the conservation and the development of cultural and environmental heritage and of the Historic Gardens and urban green.

Beyond research and educational activities, the Section collaborates with several National and International scientific Institutions, and provides technical and scientific support to various public and private institutions, according to agreements and conventions for research activities and actions concerning the botanic heritage, both natural and anthropized.

Central nucleus of these activities is the Orto Botanico (Botanical Garden). This old and complex Sicilian museum institution, spread over ca. 25 acres (10 ha), hosts an extraordinary wealth of living collections (ca. 12.000 taxa), in vase or ground, outdoors or in greenhouses.

The imprint of scientific museum and the value of the collections and research activities that the Botanical Garden has been conducting since its foundation are supported by the research activities of the staff of the Botany Section, thanks to which the Botanical Garden of the University of Palermo is characterized as a leading scientific institution on the international scene, not only for the collections of live plants, but also for the huge “exsiccate” collections of the “Herbarium Mediterraneum” and for the rich heritage of plant biodiversity preserved in the Germplasm Bank and in the DNA bank

Section of Cell Biology

Section coordinator Prof.ssa Rosa Serio

Address: viale delle Scienze, ed.16 90128 Palermo
tel.+39 091 23897111 (contact center) - fax: +39 091 6577210

The Section of Cell Biology includes the late Dept. of Cell and Developmental Biology “A. Monroy”, dedicated to the founder of the former Institute of comparative anatomy, starting nucleus of the structure. The Dept. was established in 1984 merging the Insitutes of Genetics and Physiology. From the original location in via Archirafi, in 1996 the Dept. moved to viale delle Scienze ed. 16. Prof. A. Monroy was a scientist of international fame, whose notable researches in the fields of Cell and molecular biology and embryonic development are commonly cited in scientific and didactic textbooks

Section of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technologies

Section coordinator: Prof.ssa Giovanna Pitarresi

Indirizzo: via Archirafi n.32, 90123 Palermo
tel.+39 091 6236111 (contact center) - fax: +39 091 6100627 

The section includes the late Dept. of Pharmaceutical chemistry and technologies, established in 1987 by merging the institutes of pharmaceutical and toxicological Chemistry and of Pharmaceutical technologies (which in turn had merged the former institutes of Organic Chemistry, Food Chemistry and Applied Medicinal Chemistry).

These institutes led back to a teaching thread in Chemistry at the University of Palermo, which had been bound since the beginning to medicinal applications. Indeed, the first Chemistry chair in Palermo was instituted within the Faculty of Medicine, and held by the poet, apothecary and surgeon Giovanni Meli.


In the 19th century the chair if “Philosophical and Pharmaceutical Chemistry” was instituted, held by prof. Casoria. In the subsequent times, the Chemical Shcool of Palermo was proud of illustrious names such as prof.s Cannizzaro, Paternò and Oddo. After the chairs of Inorganic and Organic chemistry were split, both had joined a practical school for apothecaries. The first Pharmaceutic Institute was constituted by prof. Angelico, coming from prof.’s Angeli Chemical School in Bologna. In the 20th century two distinct courses in Chemistry and in Pharmacy were instituted, together with the translocation of the relevant structures to the buildings in via Archirafi.

Section of Chemistry

Section coordinator: Prof.ssa Francesca D’Anna

Address: viale delle Scienze, ed.17 90128 Palermo
tel.+39 091 596853 (contact center) - fax: +39 091 596825

The section includes professors and researchers of the Chemistry area from the late Dept.s of Physical Chemistry “F. Accascina”, Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry “S. Cannizzato” and Organic Chemistry “E. Paternò”. The members of the Section act in various chemistry research fields, dealing with topics of theoretical, technological, environmental and biomedical interest. The relevant the research lines, articulated by research areas and investigated in collaboration with both national and international Universities and research centers, are briefly summarized hereinafter.

Analitical Chemistry

Development of analytical methods for the evaluation of environmental contaminants and materials for Cultural Heritage. Studies on materials for decontamination of environmental matrixes. Speciation and thermodynamic studies of metal complexes.

Physical Chemistry

Synthesis and physico-chemical characterization of nanoparticles and nanostructures. Intermolecular interactions and self-assembly in both gas and condensed phase. Interactions between biomolecules and membrane models. Preparation and characterization of polymeric nanocomposites and nanomaterials for advanced applications. Characterization of handworks of archaeologic and historic-artistic interest.

Inorganic Chemistry

Synthesis and structural characterization of inorganic and organometallic compounds. Study of the interaction between metal compounds and biomolecules. Study of the antitumor activity of metal compounds.

Organic Chemistry


Heterocycle chemistry. Physical and Mechanistic Organic Chemistry. Natural products. Photochemistry. Organocatalysis. Supramolecular chemistry. Sinthesis of bioactive compounds. Organic materials.


Section of Medicinal and Biological Chemistry

Section coordinator: Prof.ssa Patrizia Diana

Address: via Archirafi 32 90123 Palermo
tel.+39 091 6161606 (contact center) - fax: +39 091 23860854

The cultural aims of the Section (former Department of Pharmacochemistry, Toxicology and Biology) stem from the currently increasing need to conduct research on chemical structures of biological interest in synergy with different and differentiated scientific skills. The basis of pharmaceutical studies is the discovery or design of new chemical structures that can be used as therapeutic agents, and the optimization of analytical and diagnostic methods of substances with pharmaceutical and/or toxicological activity.

Therefore, this research involves the isolation and structural identification of the active ingredients of natural origin, the synthesis of new molecules or new derivatives, the verification of biological activities even through the identification of interactions with receptors of various types, including enzymes and DNA, the interpretation of qualitative and/or quantitative relationships between biological activity and the structure of synthetic or natural compounds, and studies of metabolic transformations. So, the confluence in the Department of Molecular and Biomolecular Sciences and Technologies of the scientific competences relevant to biological chemistry, organic chemistry, pharmaceutical and toxicology chemistry, health physics, allowing synergistic scientific interactions, contributes to an advancement of pharmaceutical research