He has fallen in love with Biochemistry in his teen years, when he spent a year in Somalia. That experience changed him for good, getting him interested in Life and, more specifically, in molecules. Here’s our interview with Roberto Fattorusso, professor of General Chemistry at Luigi Vanvitelli University in Caserta and expert in Molecular Biotechnology.
Can you briefly introduce yourself?
I’m Roberto Fattorusso, I was in born in Naples and I’m full professor of General Chemistry at Luigi Vanvitelli University in Caserta. I work for the Department of Environmental, Biological and Pharmautical Sciences and Technologies. I also teach General Chemistry at Federico II University. I study the structure and interactions of proteins. These are the most extraordinary and evolved molecules on Earth and probably in the whole Universe.
How did you first get interested in Chemistry?
When I was a teen, I spent roughly a year in Somalia, a truly unique country, where I had the chance to meet an exceptional world, a world which was completely different from the one I grew up in. That experience got me interested in Life, in the life of any living being, and more specifically in molecules. That’s how I became passionate about Chemistry, in particular about Biochemistry.
What’s Molecular Biotechnology all about?
Biotechnologies are technologies that enable us to use living systems or parts of living systems to produce wealth and goods, to improve people’s lives. Actually, we have always used biotechnologies: products such as bread, wine and cheese are in fact biotechnological. Nowadays, however, we can even use parts of molecules to produce health, to help people out. mRNA vaccines, for example, are typical molecular biotechnology products. This is what Molecular Biotechnology is all about and it’s an extremely powerful and useful science.
What fascinates you the most about this branch of Biology?
The molecules’ and atoms’ capability to influence the macro-world. This correlation between micro and macro is one of the key laws of the Universe but we often ignore it as we are macro organisms living in a macro-world. However, the macro-world is a result of the molecules it’s made of, and this correlation is really crystal-clear in the Molecular Biotechnology field.
Italy’s brain drain is a long-lasting phenomenon. Why have you stayed?
Because my country, Italy, has given me a reason to stay by offering me a job opportunity. I think It’s a huge challenge to contribute to the set-up of a new university campus. I started working as a professor at Luigi Vanvitelli University a few years after its foundation: we built from scratch a new school of chemists, it has been a great achievement.