Chemistry in its commodity version has been present, from the beginning, in the first nucleus of disciplines taught in the "Higher School of Commerce" which gave rise to the Universität Triest - University of Trieste. This was created in 1877 at the behest of Baron Pasquale Revoltella (1795-1869, born into a modest family, soon orphaned of his father, still young he left Venice to seek his fortune in Trieste. In 1835 he founded a company for the importation of wood and grains, he established himself quickly and thanks to his financial resources he acquired various stakes in many companies in Trieste. Among the first shareholders of Assicurazioni Generali and director of Lloyd Austriaco, he became a friend of Baron Carl Ludwig von Bruck, one of the founders and president of the navigation and future Austrian Minister of Commerce and Finance. His commitment was strong for the opening of the Suez Canal, considered crucial for the economic development of Trieste, closely linked to maritime traffic. For his essential contribution, Revoltella was appointed vice president of the Universal Company of the Suez Canal. In 1867 Emperor Franz Joseph gave him the title of baron) when the mercantile development of the city, which experienced great prosperity thanks to the free port and the development of a flourishing trade that made it one of the most important metropolises of the then Austro-Hungarian Empire, highlighted the need for training in commercial field. The first distinguished professor of Mercinomy and Applied Chemistry was Professor Augusto Vierthaler (1838-1901, doctor from Trieste, chemical expert, director of the "Fisicato Civico" - today's "Hygiene Office") who transmitted the passion and interest for this discipline to the fellow citizen Giacomo Ciamician (1857-1922, a chemist first Austrian, then Italian, of Armenian origin, recognized as one of the founding fathers of photochemistry, member of the Armenian community of Trieste, nephew of an esteemed Mekhitarist father) studied in his hometown and in Vienna, graduating in Gießen with a thesis on chemical affinities. During his youthful Viennese period he published analyzes on the spectra of various chemical elements, his researches were noticed and cited by Dmitrij Ivanovich Mendeleev, the great Russian chemist, in support of his periodic system of elements. It was Professor Giulio Morpurgo (1865–1931, from Gorizia, who taught business technology at the University of Trieste, wrote numerous monographs on business topics), called to the chair of Merchandise and Technological Chemistry at the Higher School who, in addition to installing the Laboratory in 1906 chemist and Commercial Museum of the Chamber of Commerce of Trieste, managed to transform the High School, of which he had been Director, first into the Royal Higher Institute of Commercial Studies (1920) and subsequently into the Royal University of Economic and Commercial Studies (1924), later becoming its Rector. In the following decades, the renamed Regia Università degli Studi (1938) established additional Faculties of chemical interest: the Faculty of Engineering (1942), the Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences (1946), the Faculty of Pharmacy (1956) and The Faculty of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology (1979). In particular, the Faculty of Mathematical, Physical and Natural Sciences was born on the initiative of three luminaries including Professor Domenico Costa (1895-1955), free professor of Bromatological Chemistry.

  There are several Institutes that came to life in those years. From the historic Institute of Merceology to that of Chemistry, from that of Pharmaceutical and Toxicological Chemistry to that of Pharmaceutical Technique. These were subsequently reorganized into various Departments. The current Department of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences (DSCF) of the University of Trieste was born in 2010 from the merger of the pre-existing Departments of Chemical Sciences and Pharmaceutical Science.

  The suppression of the pre-existing faculties, in implementation of the university reform (law 240), has led the DSCF to carry out the teaching functions of the former MMFFNN Faculty of Sciences and Pharmacy from autumn 2012 relating to the three-year and master's degree courses in Chemistry and single-cycle courses in Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology.

  The DSCF manages the PhD in Chemistry and participates in the PhD in Nanotechnology of the University of Trieste. The DSCF houses an important chemistry library, numerous teaching and research laboratories, together with instruments and facilities dedicated to basic and applied research in the various chemical disciplines. About fifty Professors-Researchers of various chemical disciplines belong to the Department, who are joined by the same number of research fellows and PhD students and about twenty technicians and administrators.

  The research activity is divided into various fields ranging from "Supramolecular chemistry and nanotechnologies" to "Theoretical and computational chemistry", from "Energy, environment and sustainable chemistry" to "Design, synthesis and formulation of drugs" and to " Synthesis, characterization and reactivity of organic compounds and biomolecules". All members of the DSCF carry out a significant research activity, which in several cases reaches levels of excellence by promoting intense scientific contacts at national and international level.

  The Department offers itself to the outside world (industries, public and private research bodies, etc.) as a cultural reference point and support for chemical research.

  The Department hosts a research spin-off, the regional order of Chemists, a section of the CNR, the Center of Excellence in Biocrystallography and has various agreements in place with research institutions including Sincrotrone Trieste.

  Chemistry, defined as a central science due to its role as a link between the physical sciences, life sciences and applied sciences, such as medicine and engineering, has found a new centrality in recent years in emerging sectors such as nanotechnology and molecular medicine.

  The topicality of the vision of Prof. Ciamician who, in a 1903 lectio magistralis "The chemical problems of the new century", argued that modern civilization could not rely solely on the use of fossil carbon for energy, which represents an infinitesimal part of solar energy stored by the earth over the centuries. He proposed imitating plants to develop catalysts which, with the help of sunlight, would make it possible to use industrial waste products, such as carbon dioxide and water vapor, to produce methane and oxygen. These, by burning, would have returned the energy acquired from the sun in the form of heat. Considering that most of the energy received from the Sun goes to waste, Ciamician proposed to considerably increase the production of vegetable organic matter, to extend the use of materials of vegetable origin and to improve the yields of the transformation industries by obtaining fuel from plants gaseous. He also proposed enhancing the ability of plants to produce valuable substances for industry (alkaloids, glucosides, essences, gums and dyes) as an alternative to the synthesis from tar derivatives. In other words, he was a forerunner of what is now called green chemistry. For bio-refineries, solar thermal, photovoltaic, the production of hydrogen by splitting water, artificial photosynthesis, the use of natural active ingredients and enzymatic synthesis and the development of analysis systems for health protection and the environment, very important steps have been taken in recent years and the contribution given by the DSCF in these research fields has been quite significant, as demonstrated by the numerous scientific publications reported in the most prestigious international journals. Depending on the case, the road to be taken to see Ciamician's dream come true is still more or less long and only interdisciplinary scientific research, which sees chemistry as its central science, will be able to make it possible to approach these objectives in the coming years.

Last update: 06-05-2023 - 12:18