Green Chemistry Emerging Investigators 2017 themed issue features Mara Freire
Journal nominated 14 outstanding early stages researchers for their significant contribution to the advancement of green chemistry.

Do you remember Mara Freire, a researcher from CICECO /University of Aveiro who won four years ago a European Research Council grant of 1.4 million euros? It has just been highlighted as one of the 14 most important emerging scientists in the world dedicated to reducing the negative impact of chemical activity on the environment. Who guarantees it is Green Chemistry, one of the most important scientific journals dedicated to Sustainable Chemistry.

Mara Freire is the coordinator of IgYPurTech, the project that conducted to one of the bigger and more important European scientific grants. Already with promising results, IgYPurTech aims to develop sustainable technologies to purify egg yolk antibodies, aiming at producing alternative, less expensive and more effective biopharmaceuticals than some conventional drugs.

In addition to this project, Mara Freire and her research team developed more efficient separation techniques for a wide range of products. These more sustainable techniques, she explains, "allow the selective separation of amino acids from complex matrices, the purification of antibodies from mammals and other value-added proteins, the simultaneous purification and concentration of tumor biomarkers from human fluids, among others". Most of the techniques rely on the use of ionic liquids, that display two relevant properties for the purpose: they are non-volatile and show high structural diversity, allowing to 'design' a suitable chemical structure for a given application.

The research team also identified the possibility of achieving reversible separation systems (by manipulating temperature and pH of the medium), allowing the development of integrated production and purification platforms. In recent years, this team has been focused on the use of more biocompatible ionic liquids, preferably derived from natural products, taking into account the described applications.

It was thanks to the development of these more efficient and sustainable separation techniques that Mara Freire was featured as one of the 14 rising stars in the Green Chemistry field, a recognition made by the Green Chemistry journal, entitled "Green Chemistry 2017 Emerging Investigators".

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