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Monday, November 11, 2019 - 12:45pm

Mercy College congratulates Associate Professor Geetha Surendran, Visiting Assistant Professor Ilirian Dhimitruka, Mackenzie McAteer ’18 and Peter Zanchelli ’18 for having an article published in the Journal of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Research this October.

The article is titled, “Assessment of Hydroxycinnamic Acids Potential for Use as Multifunctional Active Ingredients in Sunscreens, Via a comparative UV Spectroscopy Analysis.” In the publication, Surendran and her team discuss concerns that have been raised about the toxicity of sunscreens active ingredients and the ongoing research they are conducting to test alternative, natural compounds to replace the hazardous components used in several commercial sunscreens.

Surendran’s research is based off the question, “Can we identify compounds of natural origin from plant material that absorb just as well as commercial synthetic filters sunscreens? Prof. Surendran noted that plants synthesize their own sunscreens filters. In other words, “If plants, naturally synthesize their sunscreens, why can’t the same organic compounds be used in commercial sunscreens for human beings as well?” Some of the natural compounds they are testing include hydroxycinnamic acids, which are known for their antioxidant and medical properties.

McAteer and Zanchelli, two Mercy alumni who are currently in medical school, assisted Surendran in her research project after graduation. “The two students were very good and produced impressive work. They were very precise with their measurements,” said Surendran. “The best thing I have been able to do is include students in this research. It makes me feel really good that they are making such substantial contributions.” Many of her students working in Organic II Project Based Learning (PBL) lab also present their results in conferences in Westchester and the greater New York metropolitan area.

Dr. Joan Toglia, dean and professor of Mercy College’s School of Health and Natural Sciences has championed Surendran’s research. SHNS purchased an instrument for the research team that not only measures compounds’ ultraviolet absorbance/transmittance properties but also sun protection factor (SPF) levels, and can determine the quality of sunscreens according to specifications and regulations enacted by various international regulatory agencies, such as FDA ruling 2011 (USA), COLIPA (EU), Boot rating (UK), AS/NZS 2604 Broad Spectrum.

The results of their research could have major implications for the design of green sunscreens and could lead to the creation of Mercy tested and branded sunscreens. Most importantly, it could have wide-ranging, positive impacts on global health, the marine system and the environment.

Surendran looks forward to continuing this important research and aspires to write additional papers on the topic.