Co-crystals and Astrophysics Set the IFSCC 2019 Opening Scene


Milan welcomed more than 800 attendees to the 25th Conference of the International Federation of the Societies of Cosmetic Chemists (IFSCC). The "stellar" opening ceremony set the stage for big picture thinking under the theme, "Sending Human Thinking Throughout The Universe."

Welcome and Opening Remarks

Following a cocktail reception and rich sampling of Italian dishes, attendees were ushered to the auditorium where the emcee welcomed them and remarked how complex the nature of cosmetics really is. "Among the food, pharma, etc., industries, cosmetics is the most complex because it [goes beyond essential survival and health]; it's about desires and aspirations." Stefania Motta, of the executive organizing committee, then thanked both colleagues and attendees for making the event possible. "It's so good to see such numerous and vibrant participants," she said. She welcomed the organizers to the stage for a round of applause.

Up next was Honorary IFSCC President Gianfranco Secchi, who emotionally welcomed attendees and paid tribute to industry members who are no longer with us: Joe Pavlichko, Johann Wiechers and Gavin Greenoak. Following Secchi, IFSCC President Juergen Lademann also gave his welcome, and excitedly highlighted the strong attendance this year. "This is a congress not a conference," he said—as typically, a congress draws a higher number of attendees. In closing, he wished attendees a fruitful and exciting congress.

Renato Ancorotti, president of the association Cosmetic Italia, was up next and provided some statistics on the innovation driving the Italian beauty market. "In Italy, cosmetic companies invest about 7% of their turnover for innovation and technology, research and development, against a national average estimated at around 3%."

IFSCC 2019 Steering Committee Chair Elio Mignini then took the stage, thanking attendees who, as he noted, have become "more [like] friends than professional colleagues." He also thanked his committee for the three years of hard work they put into organizing this year's event. Emanuele Piras, also of the executive organizing committee, then brought the IFSCC Praesidium to the stage to recognize them.

In Italy, cosmetic companies invest about 7% of their turnover for ... research and development, against a national average estimated at around 3%.

Jean-Yves Berthon, Ph.D., CEO of Greentech, which sponsored the evening, wrapped up opening comments with the three reasons he looked forward to participating tonight: 1) the event being in Milan; 2) he could speak to all esteemed attendees; and 3) Greentech will celebrate its 27-year anniversary this week (on Oct. 1, 2019). He shared some key facts about the company before handing the mic over for the award presentations.

Award Presentations

Following formalities, two prestigious awards were presented. The Maison G. DeNavarre Young Scientist Award went to Yan Liu, of Shanghai Pechoin Daily Chemical Co., Ltd., for his essay, "The Human Skin Microbiome: A New Way to Beauty." His prize was a fully paid trip to attend this year's congress.

The Rainier Voegeli travel grant winner was Fandresena Arilala Sendrasoa, who works at the Department of Dermatology, University Hospital Joseph Raseta Befelatanana in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo. She is a member of the Malagasy Society of Dermatology (Société Malgache de Dermatologie, or SOMADER), of which she is also the secretary general. This award is presented to young scientists from under-developed countries, to enable their attendance and participation on an international level.

Magisterial Lecture: Crystal Engineering

The evening keynote, “Crystal Engineering: Custom Design of the Right Material for the Right Application,” was presented by Michael Zaworotko, Ph.D., of the SFI Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals, Bernal Institute, University of Limerick, Ireland. His research focuses on crystal engineering, which is of interest thanks to the repeatable pattern of ions in 3D crystals; stabler composition compared with amorphous materials; purity in general; reproducible properties; ease of scaling up; and in some cases, porous properties—i.e., zeolites.

Zaworotko noted that crystals themselves traditionally cannot be designed, as they form as-is and are not amenable to design concepts. However, co-crystals can be created such that form becomes function. "Crystals can be developed now to do things differently. For example, to clean water; improve medicines, making them better and cheaper; making solar energy more economical; and for carbon sequestration," he said.

The concert was especially created for the opening of scientific conferences by five sound creators, scientific communicators and experimenters.

He gave detailed examples of the structures and functions of co-crystals (see images in slide show, above) and explained the difference between two main types: molecular co-crystals, with two or more different coformers; and ionic co-crystals, with three or more co-crystals. "Co-crystals can dramatically change crystal properties to do what you want them to do," he added.

The closest apparent connection he made between co-crystals and cosmetics, besides the versatility of the chemistry, was in how they have aided in drug discovery and could be adapted in the naturals space to improve bioavailability. He highlighted quercetin and naringenin, in particular. 

Concert and Show: Planetario

Finally, moving from the inner "infinity" of crystals, to the outer "infinity" of the universe, the opening ceremony closed with live music, narration and a video performance titled, "Planetario." The show was arranged especially for the IFSCC conference by the artistic collective band the Deproducer and astrophysicist Fabio Peri.

As the organizers described it, "The show, in addition to telling the mystery of the birth of the universe, the constellations and their mythology, [and] the relationship between Man and Infinity, will be enriched by the execution of the concert, especially created for the opening of scientific conferences by five sound creators, scientific communicators and experimenters."

The show illustrated the wonders of the cosmos, narrated by astrophysicist Fabio Peri and including official images from the space of ESA and NASA, with suggestive visuals created ad hoc for this occasion. To sample this performance, visit our Facebook page.

Follow us throughout the week as we continue our reports from the IFSCC Conference.

More in Event Coverage