Francesco Turci

Assistant Professor, University of Torino

Francesco Turci is Assistant Professor (tenure track) of General and Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Torino, Italy. FT graduated in Chemistry in 2001 and obtained in 2005 a PhD degree in Chemical Sciences with a thesis on the hazard of asbestos minerals naturally occurring in the Western Alps. From 2015, he is deputy director of the “G. Scansetti” Center for Studies on Asbestos and Other Toxic Particulates of the University of Torino.His scientific activity is mainly aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms of the toxicity of inorganic micro- and nanometric particulate matter, with particular attention to asbestos, silica, and metal oxides of industrial interest. FT has been an invited visiting scientist at Université de la Nouvelle Calédonie (UNC) to study fibrous antigorite in natural and occupational settings in New Caledonia. He was awarded with an EU-funded transnational grant to investigate the nano-biointerface of crystalline silica at the University College of Dublin (UCD), Ireland and has been a visiting student at the Department of Geosciences, Virginia Polytechnic, USA.


Inhalation of respirable crystalline silica (RCS) may result in silicosis and/or lung cancer. The extreme variability of silica forms, depending on their source and preparation methods, has so far hindered a comprension of the molecular mechanisms that trigger such negative outcomes. Using a set of synthetic and natural quartz samples, we have now identified a unique subfamily of surface moieties that sit on the quartz surface and act as the determinant of silica particle toxicity. These moieties, namely pairs of "nearly-free silanols" (NFS), appear on the surface of quartz particles when crystals are fractured, and their amount can be modulated by thermal treatments. The peculiar spatial arrangement of these surface species was demonstrated to be the initiating event in the lytic interaction between quartz and cell membrane components and initiated RCS toxicity in vivo.

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Thursday 3rd Dec Day 4

New molecular understanding of the toxicity of crystalline silica

Sponsor RED OHMS Group