InFocus Science / APRIL 2024

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Serbian Science Changing the World

Projects Funded by the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia






In the whirlwind of our modern era, where the pace of technological advancement races alongside the pressing reality of climate change and rapid advancement of artificial intelligence, humanity finds itself standing at a crossroads of unprecedented challenges. It is a time where the solutions we seek are as complex as the problems we face.

Established in 2019, the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia supports and provides the resources our researchers need to push the boundaries of knowledge and offer solutions to life’s most pressing questions.

The programs of the Science Fund are designed to support excellence in science and scientific work, competitiveness at the international level, innovative results, and relevance to society in general.

The procedures of the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia are aligned with the procedures applied by other European science funds, ensuring equal competition conditions for all researchers, competitiveness in project selection, as well as transparency, independence, and objectivity in the evaluation. Project proposals are evaluated by foreign experts from all research areas and all world continents. Science Fund has a pool of over 1300 peer reviewers from more than 60 countries.

Over the past five years, the Science Fund has proven itself to be a catalyst for change, channeling a total budget of 81.7 million euros into 497 projects involving over 3,000 researchers from 145 scientific organizations. These projects span the entire spectrum of scientific inquiry, from the depths of theoretical physics to the intricacies of agricultural science. Yet, their impact extends far beyond the confines of the laboratory, offering tangible solutions to real-world problems across industry, medicine, energy, and beyond.

Central to the mission of the Science Fund is the belief that knowledge is the key to building a better world. In an age where the challenges we face are as vast as they are complex, it is only through the relentless pursuit of understanding that we can hope to overcome them. Science Fund plays an important role in our society by supporting our scientists, by empowering them to push the boundaries of what is possible. For it is through knowledge, and knowledge alone, that we will forge a path to a brighter tomorrow. Projects funded by:




Color Media Communication


President of the Science Council of the Science Fund SCIENCE

Petrovaradin Partner

Fond za nauku

Republike Srbije The Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia


Color Media Communication

Petrovaradin Partner

The Embassy of the Kingdom of Spain in Belgrade



Editor in Chief

Project manager

Natalija Ginić Prepress Studio Lončar

Copyright 2016-2024

© Color Media Communications


by The Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia

Dr Milica Djurić – Jovičić Acting Director of the Republic of Serbia’s Science Fund



Stevan Pilipović

Mihailo Vesović

of the Managing Board of the Science Fund

All materials are provided
12 DecodExpo Dr Aleksandra Buha – Djordjević 14 Modeco Dr Emilija Nikolić 16 Bianco Dr Sonja Kaišarević 20 Protecta Dr Nikola Unković 22 HiSuperBat Dr Milica Vujković 24 Avantes Dr Boško Nikolić 27 Extremes Dr Vladimir Đurđević 30 PrisonLife Dr Milena Milićević 33 We Succed Dr Danijela Stošić Panić 36 NanoCompAS DrJasmina Agbaba 38 PhytoPFAS Dr Vladimir Beškoski 40 SMAIPROTACs Dr Milan Mladenović 42 FF-Green Dr Dejan Ivezić 45 GrasMat Dr Edina Pavlović 48 AirPoleRes Dr Katarina Novović CONTENT


Science is a serious pursuit. It requires dedication, creativity, hard work, and ethics. Supporting science is investment in our future

On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia which was celebrated in March 2024, we spoke with Dr Milica Djurić – Jovičić, Acting Director of this government institution about achievements and plans for the future.

What has the Science Fund accomplished in the last five years?

We live in a time of change and rapid technological development, which pose numerous challenges to humanity. I am deeply convinced that science is the one that can adequately perceive these challenges, and tackle and respond to them.

The Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia was established in March 2019, with the aim to enable quality conditions for the development of Serbian science, as a state institution that ensures competitive project financing. The Science Fund achieves this goal, first and foremost, by devising various programmes that strive for the development of all scientific fields, ensure a high level of scientific activity, innovative results, the competitiveness of our science internationally and the relevance of scientific results concerning the challenges of society. Serbia has a long scientific tradition and truly exceptional scientists. The role of the Science Fund is to provide them with finances for adequate scientific activities, necessary equipment and cooperation with colleagues from abroad and the business sector to improve professionally and achieve top results in their respective fields.

Today, after five years, I can proudly say that the Science Fund has launched 11 programmes through which a total of 81.7 million euros have been allocated to projects. Funds were provided

for 497 research projects in which implementation over 3,000 researchers from Serbia from 145 scientific research organizations are engaged. As many as 2,200 scientific papers written based on research supported by the Fund’s programmes were published in various scientific publications, of which 413 papers were published in top international scientific journals.

I believe that, during these past five years, we built a solid foundation and developed a clear methodology for further work, as


well as that we have managed to come up with a new model of competition in the scientific community, which is based on internationally recognized standards and practices. Throughout this whole ‘maturing’ process, we had great support, first of all from the Serbian government and the Ministry of Science, Technological Development and Innovation, and international partners such as the European Union and the World Bank, with whom we have established close cooperation and whose support remains crucial for the Science Fund’s further development.

All the aforementioned factors have contributed to the fact that today the Science Fund is a globally recognized institution and a member of Science Europe, an international organization that brings together the most important science funds in Europe.

Are you satisfied with the results? Would you change anything if you could manage the Science Fund all over again and, if so, what would it be?

When I look back at the implemented programmes, the projects we supported, our position in Science Europe and the recognition we have received for our work from the World Bank and the European Union, I cannot be dissatisfied. In 2019, we could only rely on the experience of international science funds and the enthusiasm of a few of us who were working at the Science Fund at that time, but we had support and great motivation. Ahead of us was a great challenge, but also a great chance to show that the Science Fund is worthy of the tasks that were set before us. Now the situation is completely different and it is an achievement that everyone at the Science Fund should be proud of, because, guided by the Science Fund’s motto that science can save the world, each of the employees gave their best to get us where we are today.

understanding for a young institution, when it was needed. Without their support, it would not have been possible to establish the Fund as a stable and recognized European institution that is built on solid foundations. Regardless of our results, the Fund continues to develop and grow and we are constantly boosting cooperation and developing dialogue with the scientific community of Serbia, summarizing experiences while remaining open to their proposals.

If a new institution like this one were to be founded now, many things could be done differently. Institutions are more mature, better organized and digitized, while scientists are ready for a competitive system and project management. Now we have databases, data and systems in place that did not exist five years ago. But the moment and circumstances in which the Science Fund became operational, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic, required very fast action and the development of procedures that will be resistant to all challenges while facilitating the development of science despite all aggravating circumstances.



Would I have done anything differently today? In ideal conditions, the launch of the first programmes would be preceded by longer preparation, analysis, formation of all segments of the Science Fund and then the start of programme-related activities. Also, our foreign colleagues advised us to see off the first programme as a whole and then launch new programmes after we generated more experience and conducted a relevant analysis. However, this was not possible. The scientific community needed the Science Fund and that was the top priority - to develop programmes and allow our scientists to pursue new ideas. That’s why we launched programmes in succession, developed the Science Fund alongside those programmes and learned and improved year-on-year.

This development would be much slower in the rest of the world and this is exactly what our foreign colleagues pointed out to us which is why they value us so much.

It was not easy to build an institution from scratch, to adopt complex international procedures that introduce new evaluation criteria and to adequately apply them to Serbian science. Since its inception, the Fund has ensured that all scientists can apply transparently and under equal conditions for funding for scientific projects and that only the best projects and excellent scientific ideas will have an impact on the development of global science and better quality of life. I believe that this competitiveness of our programmes, which at the time of their implementation, was a big change for our scientists, is the most correct way for our science to be competitive on the international stage and for our scientific research institutions to match the scientific and research capacity of more developed countries.

I would also like to use this opportunity to highlight the great role played by the scientific community in the development of the Fund, which showed openness to change, but also patience and

What did the establishment of the Science Fund bring to Serbian science? Why is the Science Fund important?

To have top-quality science, having excellent ideas is not sufficient but you also need to have sufficient finances, i.e. provide the means for work. The financial resources approved through the Fund’s programme are intended for the employment of young researchers, the work of scientists on projects, the purchase of materials and equipment, scientific publications and the establishment of international cooperation. Therefore, part of the funds is intended for the purchase of equipment that remains with the scientific institution, but also for the entire scientific community and future generations of scientists to use. Thus, as part of the COVID-19 programme, a high-resolution mass spectrometer was purchased, which is an important piece of equipment that does not exist in our region. The spectrometer is now used by the Faculty of Chemistry, which makes it also


available to all scientists. On the other hand, funds are also allocated for the professional development of our scientists and the inclusion of young researchers in scientific research work, which helps prevent the brain drain of young talent, but also facilitates the return of researchers from abroad. In other words, the funding provided by the Science Fund is not only an investment in scientific research infrastructure, technology and equipment but also in our people, knowledge and intelligence.

As our procedures are fully harmonized with the procedures of other European science funds, through the Science Fund›s programmes, researchers get acquainted with the prerequisites they need to meet when applying for international grants and get the opportunity to cooperate with foreign colleagues, the scientific diaspora and the business sector. The importance of making young PhD holders empowered is best illustrated by the example of a young researcher from the Institute of Physics in Belgrade, Dr Jakša Vučičević, who first participated in a project under the auspices of our programme PROMIS and subsequently won a grant from the European Research Council (ERC) in the amount of 1.5 million euros.

You mentioned earlier international reviewers. Why are the projects of our scientists evaluated by foreigners? Doesn’t that send a message to Serbian scientists that they are not good enough?

Not at all! Serbia has exceptional scientists and great potential for top scientific results. I am confident that many of our scientists would be excellent reviewers for Science Fund programmes, just as some of them are already excellent evaluators for foreign funds and programmes under the auspices of Horizon Europe. But making a scientist also a reviewer would not be fair to them, because it would make it impossible for them to participate in our programmes with their work, teams and research to contribute to the progress of our science and country. However, the engagement of foreign reviewers ensures that the Science Fund eliminates a conflict of interest and that our scientists receive an expert evaluation done by their foreign colleagues from the same scientific field.

The issue of conflict of interest is also extremely important for the integrity of our procedures and the Science Fund’s procedures are extremely strict in this segment.

Before accepting this position, you worked in science and were the director of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering Innovation Centre. In what way was that experience useful to you and prepared you for this position?

All of my previous career stages were extremely important for the Science Fund’s development. Having managerial experience and knowledge of legal regulation, finance and how an organization works were important to me when developing the Fund in its initial stage. Experience in science and international cooperation helped in developing the programmes, along with understanding the expectations of fund givers and our fund users, that is the scientific community. During these five years, we had extremely demanding deadlines, complex processes, a huge number of

projects and an insufficient number of people to meet those deadlines and complete the volume of work. To resolve that, I actively used my engineering knowledge and experience in software engineering.

The Science Fund has a large number of users, different processes and databases. The previous experience helped me in recognizing work segments that can be automated, defining functionality and choosing technologies. I know their capabilities as well as their limitations. Every part of the process and software system was created according to the Science Fund’s measures and needs. In some segments, we use machine learning techniques, advanced techniques for processing big data and artificial intelligence algorithms. They can be used successfully, with validation, in some segments of our work. In other segments, they are about to be used. This was exactly the topic of a recent conference held by the international organization Science Europe. We have demonstrated our project evaluation system and the matching of project proposals with potential evaluators. The science funds of Switzerland, Germany and Norway also presented their systems. It makes you feel good when you see that despite the significant difference in financial resources, we are not lagging behind the most advanced countries in Europe in this domain.


As a scientist, I understand the needs of scientists and researchers in Serbia, as well as the challenges they face. For instance, to secure project funds, in addition to an excellent scientific idea, a lot of administration work needs to be done, while a project needs to have a scientific impact or be implemented in practice. I know it can be frustrating for our scientists when they have to deal with the paperwork, so I, as the acting director, try to contribute as much as possible to improve and expedite certain application and reporting procedures. On the other hand, the Science Fund is a kind of national bank for scientists. Responsible management of funds and administration is an integral part of our work and our obligation toward those who provide us with funds for our work and scientific development.

While I was running the Innovation Centre at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Belgrade, I worked on numerous projects that connect science and businesses and I can use my experience to help our researchers bring their solutions closer to the business sector.

Also, I know how important it is to work on promoting science, affirming scientific work in the public and elevating the social reputation of researchers. That is why bringing science closer to the public and emphasizing the importance and relevance of science for understanding the world around us, as well as ourselves, and for establishing a knowledge-based society are some of the Science Fund’s most important goals.


You have recently become a member of the Governing Board of the international organization Science Europe. What does this mean for science in Serbia?

The fact that I became a member of the Governing Board of Science Europe is proof that the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia is internationally recognized as a stable European institution. This decision is a culmination of five years of work on the implementation of international procedures and the development of the Science Fund as a renowned partner to other European scientific institutions. In this way, our country got the opportunity to directly participate in devising strategic directions and building the European research space, while shaping European research policies and defining the global scientific agenda in the next two years.

My task will be to work together with directors and senior representatives of prominent European institutions to define, monitor and manage the strategic directions of Science Europe and identify key areas that require joint action at the European and global levels.

Can you single out several scientific results accomplished by the projects supported by the Science Fund?

Five years as the healm of the Science Fundonly strengthened my belief that Serbia has exceptional scientists, who can give the world top scientific results. This is why it is very difficult to single out one of the 497 projects that received the Science Fund’s support because each of them is excellent in its respective field.

These are projects of public interest that pose vitally important

questions and offer scientifically based solutions for the current challenges of our society, which can be applied in various areas of life - from industry, agriculture, medicine, pharmacy, energy, environmental protection and culture to the development of artificial intelligence and solutions that will improve our everyday life.

However, I would like to single out some projects that might sound interesting to the general public, such as a project that produces a new type of cytostatics and antibiotics from waste microorganisms, then the development of new types of batteries that do not use lithium, the development of scientific solutions for the removal arsenic from water or finding new methods for treating obesity. There is, of course, a study on the impact of microplastics on the female reproductive system.

These are just some of the examples that testify that our scientists and researchers are interested in the most diverse problems of modern society, but also that they are capable of pushing the boundaries of science and contributing to a better quality of life for all of us.

How do you see the future of Serbian science and the Science Fund?

It seems to me that the future pathways of Serbian science and the Science Fund are the same because we share the same goal - the progress of science, boosting its competitiveness and creating better conditions for engaging in science in our country.

To achieve these goals, we need to have continuous investment in science and new scientific projects, because investment in the development of science is an investment in the economic, technological, cultural and social development of Serbia. Investing in science is not only useful for the economy, but it is important for us as rational beings, since science asks the most important questions, i.e. questions the fundamental values and postulates of our society and allows us to better understand both the world that surrounds us and our own identity, language, history, culture and ultimately ourselves.


Serbia has abundant scientific tradition and good higher education. To build an advanced world on a human scale, it is important to believe in science, support scientists and facilitate the development of science and innovation.

The Science Fund will do everything in its power to support the development of science so that our laboratories are places where top scientific publications are born, patents are developed and innovations are created that will benefit all people in Serbia.



The Science Fund’s priorities are devising scientific policy following global trends in the development of science

We spoke with the President of the Scientific Council of the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia and the Academic of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) in the Council, Professor Stevan Pilipović, about the importance of the Fund’s establishment and how Serbian science fares to the rest of the world.

You are the President of the Scientific Council and also the SANU representative in this body. As an academic, what do you think, how has the scientific community in Serbia benefitted from the Science Fund?

The formation of the Science Fund in 2019, which was established by the law passed by the Serbian government, is one of the most significant steps towards organizing science in Serbia to correspond to the EU level. It is precisely under the auspices of the Science Fund that the generally accepted idea of harmonizing scientific standards in our science with the top-quality scientific standards in the European Union is most clearly represented. Science in Serbia, especially theoretical science, was relatively modestly supported by the state for a long period. Theoretical scienc-

es are less dependent on financial investments, as our science is still highly valued. The importance of a well-founded science evaluation system in the 1990s was diminished at the beginning of the new millennium by negative tendencies such as adding unrelated names to scientific works, appearance in journals with reviews that depended on how much money was donated to the publication and publishing works in the so-called predatory magazines. A decrease in quality to the quantity of published works was noticeable. All this contributed to the degradation of value criteria, especially in the insufficiently adjusted system of advancement in scientific and teaching positions.


In the second decade of the 21st century, it became very clear what was wrong, but apart from general and often unarticulated dissatisfaction, there were no significant ideas on how to improve the scientific activities system in Serbia. In such circumstances, the establishment of the Science Fund was an extremely important solution.


In line with the relevant regulation, the Science Fund introduces Serbian science into European scientific flows by fully adapting it to the EU’s evaluation system. Thus, the Fund directs science towards contemporary trends and finding solutions to the real problems of our society, and thus towards application with a clear scientific basis. The Science Fund pays special attention to demarcation from professional innovations and favours a direction towards applied science, or the application of science. The establishment of the Science Fund ensures that experienced scientists, as well as new generations of scientists, lead Serbian science. With a passing rate of projects of about 15% on Science Fund’s Public Calls, scientists understand and accept the conditions of fair competition and the struggle for new ideas and new solutions, which are measured according to the highest scientific standards in the European Union. That, in a nutshell, is the importance of the establishment of the Science Fund.

What are the Science Fund’s priorities in terms of programmes and funding?

The Science Fund’s priorities, that is the priorities of the Scientific Council, are devising scientific policy following global trends in the development of science. The Science Fund›s programmes implemented through competitive public calls should be in correlation with the state’s financial capacities and the scientific capacities of our scientific community, as well as especially be directed towards problems that are found on a universal, global level, to direct science towards solving problems that are particularly important for our country. Here, I am primarily referring to identity sciences, then sciences directed towards information technologies, healthcare and food, but also theoretical sciences which have a special importance in the educational system and are a prerequisite for the acceptance of new scientific knowledge which is based on highly sophisticated theoretical foundations.

Another important aspect is the appropriate development of science in the regions, as well as the relationship between science implemented by scientists working at universities and at institutes. These are not simple issues and they certainly deserve special attention and to be treated as priorities in the development of the Science Fund’s activities.

accepted the conditions imposed by the public call with great enthusiasm, completely unencumbered. However, things were much more complicated with the Public Call for the Program IDEAS. Experienced, top-quality scientists worked as principal investigators, but with acquired habits that did not correlate with the formal requirements contained in the Fund’s public call.

What was very important was the fact that the projects were evaluated by experienced foreign scientists and that none of the scientists in Serbia participated in the evaluation of any project. By using certain keywords, the projects were assigned to reviewers who were hired based on very clear criteria and who had no connection with the projects they reviewed. This is where the Science Fund showed great skill. At this point, after five years, the Science Fund has demonstrated exceptional maturity in performing the most delicate activities in the process of evaluating scientific projects.

You have abundant experience as an evaluator of international projects under the auspices of the European Commission programme. How important is it for the Science Fund that the project selection is harmonized with the European one?

Yes, I do have a long-standing experience. The selection procedures are largely harmonized with European ones. My experience tells me that we must improve the work of reviewers in the area of harmonization/consensus. In this regard, the problems in Serbia are the same as in other countries. There is a lot of competition between the various funds to provide the highest quality reviewer lists. I think that, at least for identity sciences, we could include our best experts, but the distrust that exists in our scientific community when it comes to domestic reviewers prevents us from doing anything in this regard.


Even without having appropriate experience, we advocate that investments in science should be carried out, relative to the investments in science in the European Union Member States. Given that the state budget projected insufficient funds for 2024, the Scientific Council raised the issue of additional funding in 2024.

What has been the Fund’s biggest success so far and what is the biggest challenge for the next period?

Immediately after the Science Fund was formed, did you believe that reforming science in this way would be possible, i.e. that the scientific community would accept a competitive way of financing?

In the beginning, we did not have a very clear idea to what extent the state (as it is always under pressure to invest in projects that are considered more important for the country) and the scientists would accept the new way of applying for funding for scientific projects. We started with Program for Excellent Projects of Young Researchers - PROMIS. It was a great solution because the scientists, who are at the early stage of their careers,

As I noted in my answer to your first question, the Science Fund’s biggest success is the significant transformation of science in Serbia in the direction of harmonization with European standards. As for the biggest challenges, I hinted at them in my previous question, i.e. an insufficient increase in the financial resources for science in 2024. As we don’t have enough funds to launch the Public Call fot the Program IDEAS 2024, in which scientists from all scientific fields could participate, Serbian science can slow the continuity of development achieved in previous years. That is why our engagement in finding sufficient funding for the program IDEAS 2024 is very important.



Thanks to the Science Fund, the smartest people stay in Serbia and young generations of scientists, who bring new, fresh ideas, have the opportunity to help society and restore faith in science

We spoke with the Chairman of the Managing Board of the Science Fund and Director of Division for Strategic Analyses, Services, and Internationalisation at Privredne komora Srbije Mihailo Vesović, about the Fund’s activities and its importance in retaining young scientists in Serbia.

What is the role of the Science Fund in the development of science and innovation in Serbia?

Serbia has always had excellent scientists and great researchers who, with their knowledge and research, were the best ambassadors of our country in the world. But, before the establishment of the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia, investments in science were modest and we were faced with the fact that our most educated people were leaving the country to work at prestigious universities and institutes all over the world, as well as that young generations of scientists did not see their future in their motherland.

That changed in 2019 when the Serbian Government established the Science Fund as an institution that will provide competitive proj-


ect, to ensure stable financing of science and thus its progress, and in the long-term mission of retaining our scientists and researchers in Serbia and thereby facilitating the country’s progress in the technological, economic, cultural and social sense. The resources provided by the Science Fund in cooperation with Ministry of Science, Technological Development and Innovation, the


World Bank and the EU, provides funds for the implementation of scientific work, equipment purchase, scientific publications, international cooperation, and development of their professional capacity.

The progress of our science must be in the service of the progress of the entire society. This is a major systemic change brought about by the Science Fund. The way we work and evaluate projects in Serbia is now the same as in other European Science Funds Our scientists, with the help of the Science Fund, are getting ready to apply to other European scientific competitions and thus show the whole world that Serbia has something to offer in international level and that our people can contribute to resolving the biggest challenges facing the entire humanity today, to which only science can give a reasoned and correct answer.

What are the Science Fund’s biggest successes and results?

As the greatest success, I would like to single out the fact that our researchers can follow their ambitions, do what they are best at in their home country and thus help Serbia. Today, they do not have to seek money for their research from other international funds. Thanks to the Science Fund, the smartest people stay in Serbia and young generations of scientists, who bring new, fresh ideas, now have the opportunity to help society and restore faith in science. Science Fund plays a really important role in Serbia. It is an institution that was established on a very well-thought-out foundation that has adequately incorporated international standards in its procedures. This has been recognized by the international scientific community, which is seen in the fact that the Science Fund’s Acting Director became a member of the Board of Directors of Science Europe at the end of last year.

What are the advantages of the competitive financing of science?

In the case of the Science Fund’s programmes, the passing rate is only about 15%, and this is a sign that the competition is very strong. On the other hand, the Science Fund has ensured that project proposals are evaluated by foreign experts, who are all authorities in their respective scientific fields. It is the competition and objective, a professional and independent assessment which results in a fair contest that ensures that only the best ideas and the best projects are approved for funding. On the other hand, such contests are also usual practice at international scientific competitions, hence our scientists and researchers have been preparing to apply for foreign grants.

How can cooperation between science and the business sector, as well as other sectors in society, help the Science Fund to achieve its goals and advance scientific and technological development?

In addition to scientific excellence, the criteria for evaluating projects are the impact that a certain project can have on science or society as a whole, as well as its implementation.

Therefore, the project itself should aim at solving a current challenge and foresee the possibility of its application. Also, the Science Fund has programmes in place that, from the get-go, require the cooperation of the scientific and economic sectors, such as the Green Programme of Cooperation between Science and Industry. We now have a long and challenging road ahead of us to get the business sector interested in investing in science and to realize that such investments are also investments in business development as their goal is to find cheaper, faster and innovative solutions for the companies themselves.

Why is continued investment in science important?

Today, all of humanity is facing great challenges to which only science can provide adequate answers. Also, new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, are not a thing of the future but are our reality. Only through stable investments in science, which implies investments in technological equipment and knowledge, can Serbia compete as an equal with far richer and more developed countries. At the same time, we must not forget that by continuously investing in science, we are contributing to a better life for all our citizens.

How can the scientific knowledge and solutions devised by our researchers contribute to the economic and social development of Serbia?

The knowledge and solutions that our researchers came up with under the auspices of the Science Fund’s 11 programmes


play a key role in improving the economic and social development of Serbia. Innovation and technological progress boost the economy’s competitiveness, while medical research improves public health and reduces healthcare costs. Scientific research in environmental protection promotes sustainable development, while scientific knowledge serves as a basis for improving education and human resource development. Research in the field of social sciences and humanities provides insights into social problems and proposes policies that promote social justice and inclusion.

The previous convocation of the Managing Board did an excellent job and as the Chairman of the current Managing Board, I and the Board are very motivated to support our scientists and create adequate conditions for their work and research and thus motivate them in their further development, to retain them in our country..



In an era where there are so many visible and invisible threats to our health, our team started an investigation to unravel the complexities of how our environment affects our well-being. The project, Decoding the Role of Exposome in Endocrine Health (DecodExpo) financed by the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia under the program PROMIS 2020, wanted to explore the complex connection between human health and exposure to toxic metals. Exposure to these metals is essential to the exposome, which is often overlooked but can significantly affect our well-being. If we imagine everything we encounter from birth until the end of life—every inhaled breath, consumed bite—we are thinking about exposome. Our health is the product of our genome and exposome and while we cannot alter our genetics, we do have the ability to influence and improve our exposome, and this could play a crucial role in maintaining good health and preventing disease in the future. Our research centered around a pressing issue: the increasing prevalence of endocrine disorders, which are conditions that disturb the body’s hormonal balance and result in various health issues like obesity, diabetes, reproductive disorders, and thyroid dysfunction. DecodExpo aimed to shed light on the impact of toxic metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, and nickel in causing these

disorders. People can be exposed to these toxic metals through everyday activities, such as consuming contaminated food and water, breathing polluted air, and using certain consumer products. Our goal was to contribute to scientific knowledge on how and why these chemicals produce effects on our endocrine system. We decided to investigate their mixtures in very low doses, mirroring real-life exposures lower than those deemed safe in studies with single chemicals, to better understand these mixtures’ subtle, combined effects on health, challenging the traditional safety thresholds paradigm. To do so, we took a comprehensive approach that involved conducting human biomonitoring studies, exposome-wide association studies, and research on experimental ani-

Article Author and Principal Investigator of the Project: Dr Aleksandra Buha Đorđević Associate Professor, University of Belgrade Faculty of Pharmacy

Project Acronym: DecodExpo

Project Title: Decoding the Role of Exposome in Endocrine Health

Program: Program for Excellent Project of Young Researchers – PROMIS

Project Budget: EUR 186,522

Scientific and Research Organization:

• University of Belgrade, Faculty of Pharmacy


mals. Through our approach, we were able to assess the presence of harmful metals within various groups of participants from Serbia and explore their potential connection to hormonal imbalances.


Katarina Baralić

PhD Assistant, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade

Dr Dragana Javorac

Principal Research Fellow, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade

We have discovered that even low everyday exposure to toxic metals can have a profound effect on metabolic, thyroid, and reproductive well-being. These findings raise concerns about the potential risks of developing various endocrine disorders. Research on animals has also shed light on these effects, revealing that extended exposure to combinations of metals, even in doses lower than those that humans are exposed to daily, can result in, for example, reproductive issues in female rats. Having in mind that the drop in human fertility has been recognized worldwide by many researchers, these findings highlight the importance of raising awareness about the important role of chemical exposures in our reproductive health. Hence, taking preventive measures by introducing new public health policies should be considered crucial for safeguarding public health and reproductive well-being. With this in mind, we developed educational material for our general population that can help them make informative decisions about their lifestyle and health choices when it comes to reducing exposure to chemicals in everyday life.

Dr Stefan Mandić Rajčević

Principal Research Fellow 1, University of Belgrade Faculty of Medicine / Dr Evica Antonijević

Miljaković, Assistant Professor / Dr Đurđica Marić, Teaching Assistant, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade,

Dr Danijela Đukić-Ćosić

Full Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade

Dr Zorica Bulat

Full Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade

Hence, I strongly believe that the impact of DecodExpo reaches a wide range of people. Our research provided information on the levels of these toxic metals in the blood of the general Serbian population placing us within the European average; however, giving us the clue that it remains essential to work on reducing these levels. These results are crucial for the development of national strategies and guidelines to effectively assess and manage health risks related to environmental exposures. Internationally, our work supports global efforts to recognize and combat the health effects of toxic metal exposures, advocating for a shift toward assessing the risks of chemical mixtures rather than single compounds with the goal of decreasing the prevalence of endocrine disorders worldwide.

The PROMIS program, of which the DecodExpo project was a part, was designed to support young researchers who have recently completed their doctoral studies and who, at that mo-

ment, lack their funding and research team. Its value lies precisely in empowering such researchers to develop their research ideas and set out on their unique journey. And this has happened to me. After obtaining these funds, I was able to establish my research team and enhance the capacity of my lab. I believe that the participation in DecodExpo project was important for the professional development and advancement of the research capacities of all project members. It provided opportunities for my team to engage in international conferences and meet the experts in the field. The results of the project were presented at many national and international conferences and some of the project’s findings were discussed at the 5th Annual Forum on Endocrine Disruptors organized by the European Commission. Science cannot be measured solely by quantitative parameters, or the number of awards received, yet I take pride in highlighting that more than ten papers have been published in renewed international journals, many of which are among the best in their field. In addition, I was honored with an award from the Intersectoral Centre for Endocrine Disruptor Analysis (ICEDA) with the Early Career Awardee for outstanding contribution, mainly based on my work on this project. The DecodExpo project also served as a catalyzer for new partnerships with fellow researchers and we have established collaborations with researchers from the University of Westminster, Kings College London, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and many more. It has also introduced new avenues for future research. Currently, in cooperation with the Clinic for Gynaecology and Obstetrics within the Clinical Centre of Serbia, we are conducting the first interventional study in Serbia devoted to perinatal environmental health education funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Studies, USA. Furthermore, based on the developed collaboration with Kings College London and together with the Clinical Hospital Center “Bežanijska kosa”, we are investigating the role of bisphenols in breast cancer, and this research is funded by Cancer Research UK. As we look to the future, I am excited about the prospects of expanding our research to explore the endocrine-disrupting effects of a wider range of chemicals like plasticizers and PFAS, diving deeper into their mechanisms. My journey so far has been incredibly rewarding, and I am eager for the discoveries that lie ahead, confident that our research could lead to transformative changes in public health and environmental safety.



Mortar is generally seen as a common technological construction product with an established production process and selection of components, given the dominance of cement mortars that are quickly prepared and applied. However, the study of

mortar is deeply related to other materials and their life cycle, the exploitation of raw materials, their processing and use as masonry elements or mortar components. The results of the examination of historical mortars that had different functions in a building or were incorporated in its different phases can reveal information about its creation and use. The research of historical mortars and other building materials and technolo-


gies is important for modern construction because it can provide information for the development of new industrial solutions. Finally, conservation of monuments is one of the most important applications of historical mortar research.

The Mortar Design for Conservation – Danube Roman Frontier 2000 Years After (MoDeCo2000) project was implemented with the support of the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia from 2020 to 2022, within the PROMIS programme. The project entails a unique multidisciplinary scientific research of historical lime mortars that come from a wider territory and a period of several centuries in Serbia. An examination of the lime mortars used from the 1st to the 6th century AD for the construction of buildings that are part of 21 archaeological sites in Serbia, located along the Danube River, which are also included in the Tentative list of the UNESCO World Heritage of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire - Danube Limes in Serbia, was carried out. Based on the research, compatible models of conservation mortars were prepared using local raw materials and their successful use was further validated during experimental application using traditional technologies on newly formed and authentic masonry structures.

Locally available natural materials have always been the basis for the development of all human activities, including construction. The applied building and masonry techniques, as well as the design in architecture, depended on them. In Roman construction, it was precisely the development of one material, the so-called Roman concrete in today’s Italy that led to a construction revolution and erection of the buildings with structures that reached monumental spans. This material is based on the use of hydraulic mortar, which was further based on local raw materials, i.e. volcanic products with properties that enable the formation of compounds that increase the durability and strength of the mortar and ensure that it sets and hardens under water. It is precisely the buildings that were created using Roman concrete, which have been preserved to this day, that are the most common topics for researchers of Roman architecture. The construction activities that developed in the part of the Roman Empire that included the territory of today’s Serbia, where raw materials of volcanic origin with properties similar to those in Italy were not available for builders, were somehow neglected. Precisely because of this, the research of ways to achieve durability in the mortar of provincial buildings and the selection of components for the preparation of durable and compatible mortars for their conservation was a great challenge. The investigation of the properties and composition of the most durable mortar that was sampled through the MoDeCo2000 project, led to valuable insights. These findings can be crucial for future research on all historical mortars that were used in the present-day territory of Serbia.

The life span and durability of buildings throughout history often depended on the composition of the mortar and its application. It is a similar situation today when we try to protect those buildings because the choice of mortar for conservation is one of the most important factors in their preservation. The application of mortars incompatible with the historically used ones or with the surrounding masonry elements can cause damage to the historical fabric and in the worst cases, jeopardize the stability of the building. Therefore, in the process of technical protection of buildings, there has to be constant cooperation between researchers, conservators and craftsmen. Preservation of masonry craft and traditional mortar preparation technologies was one of the important topics of the MoDeCo2000 project, promoted through a practical workshop and a scientific conference. Given the fact there is no specialized education for architectural conservators in the Serbian education system and that working in the technical protection of monuments carries great challenges, it is extremely important that the young generation of architects and other engineers acquire knowledge during their education that will enable them to be confident and secure in their decisions during

Article Author and Principal Investigator of the Project:

Research Associate, Institute of Archaeology, Belgrade

Project Acronym: MoDeCo2000

Project Title: Mortar Design for Conservation – Danube Roman Frontier 2000 Years After


The Program for Excellent Projects of Young Researchers – PROMIS

Project Budget: EUR 199,657

Scientific and Research organizations:

• Institute of Archaeology, Belgrade

• Faculty of Technology, University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad

• Institute for Testing of Materials, Belgrade

conservation, where nowadays, as in most areas of human activity in the world, economic gain is becoming increasingly important and is often the sole goal. During the MoDeCo2000 project, our team worked with students from multiple fields to


familiarize them with the characteristics of historical mortars and the preparation of compatible models for conservation.

The methodology of characterizing, i.e. determining the composition of historical lime mortars and preparing mortar models for conservation during the MoDeCo2000 project was done following international standards and recommendations, based on the experience of the project team members and adapted to the needs of architectural conservation in Serbia. This can be applied to the examination of all types of historical mortars, as well as the preparation and application of mortars for the conservation of all traditional buildings. With the help of the methodology and project results, it will be easier to make decisions about the preparation and use of mortar during the conservation of buildings in Serbia, while the experiences gained during the project can be an important contribution to the nomination file for the inclusion of the Danube Limes in Serbia on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The implementation of the MoDeCo2000 project, which was financed by the Science Fund, included working both in laboratories and the field, procurement of modern laboratory and field equipment to obtain research results, planning international projects in which its use will be of crucial importance, establishing new and boosting existing connections with global researchers, participation of team members in numerous international conferences, the organization of important workshops, publication of results in international journals and different types of project promotion. By working together, project team members from the fields of archaeology, architecture, geology, chemistry, and material engineering proved

the value of interdisciplinarity in science, adding to their existing knowledge and looking at problems through the filter of several different scientific fields.

Trying to respond to modern human needs, the construction industry produces a huge amount of construction materials as well as waste, thus increasing pollution. During the fight against climate change, scientists are trying to improve existing, but also develop new, sustainable building materials. Research of historical mortars, as indicated by the latest results of the world scientists’ search for ways to improve the properties of modern building materials based on the durability of Roman mortars, can make a valuable contribution to this process. We hope that future research on historical mortars in Serbia - through the development of the MoDeCo2000 project in cooperation with the industry or the launch of a new scientific project - will be able to provide a similar contribution to this extremely important topic.


Dr Mladen Jovičić

Research Associate, Institute of Archaeology, Belgrade

Dr Snežana Vučetić

Associate Professor, Faculty of Technology, University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad

Dr Jonjaua Ranogajec

Full Professor, Faculty of Technology, University of Novi Sad, Novi Sad

Ljiljana Miličić

Principal Research Fellow, Institute for Testing of Materials, Belgrade

Ivana Delić-Nikolić

Research Associate, Institute for Testing of Materials, Belgrade

Dr Nevenka Mijatović

Research Associate, Institute for Testing of Materials, Belgrade

Dr Biljana Ilić

Senior Research Associate, Institute for Testing of Materials, Belgrade



We live in an era characterized by global environmental pollution, with escalating concerns regarding its impacts on ecosystems and human health. In recent years, a growing silent threat has emerged in the environment in the form of a group of substances known as neuroactive compounds.

Neuroactive compounds represent a diverse group of substances produced and used to modify the activity of the nervous system in humans and other target organisms. The most important representatives of these compounds are pharma-

ceuticals with neuroactive properties (such as antidepressants, anxiolytics and anticonvulsants), stimulants such as caffeine, psychoactive substances and certain pesticides. The global usage of neuroactive compounds is constantly increasing, and evidence from the pertinent scientific literature suggest that these substances and their metabolites are now among the most abundant chemicals found in European rivers, especially in regions near big cities and urban settlements. They primarily enter rivers through municipal wastewater effluents, and in the case of pesticides through agricultural surfaces runoff. Wastewater treatment plants, even when they are present, often lack the capacity to completely remove neuroactive compounds from the effluent. In many cities in Serbia where such


treatment plants do not exist, the problem becomes even more serious. The trend of growing urbanization and modern lifestyle, as well as intensive use of pesticides in agriculture suggest that this problem is unlikely to be solved, but we can expect even higher concentrations of neuroactive substances in rivers in the future.

Once they enter the aquatic environment, neuroactive substances and their metabolites affect fish and water invertebrates. The effects observed in these organisms include disturbances in reproduction, developmental retardation and morphological abnormalities, changes in mobility, behavior, ability to find food, avoid danger and defend against predators. These alterations not only jeopardize the survival of affected individuals, but also of entire populations.

The Project entitled „Biomarkers of neuroactive compounds in the aquatic environment: integration into adverse outcome pathway framework - BI-

Article Author and Principal Investigator:

Dr Sonja Kaišarević

Full Professor, Faculty of Sciences

University of Novi Sad

Acronym: BIANCO


Program: Program for Excellent Project of Young Researchers – PROMIS

Project Budget:

EUR 110,571

Scientific and Research Organizations:

• Faculty of Sciences

University of Novi Sad

ANCO “ financed by the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia within the program PROMIS, has provided insights into the mechanisms of toxic actions of neuroactive compounds and their potential in defining specific biomarkers of effect, or universal changes at the molecular level that confirm that the organism was affected by these substances, even when they exhibit different primary modes of action. Additionally, the project has focused on integration of sensitive biomarkers into existing frameworks that describe chains of events at the molecular, cellular, tissue, organ, individual and population levels, linked by causality and leading to final adverse outcome. These frameworks, known as adverse outcome pathways (AOPs), through the approach applied within this Project enable definition of adverse effects of single toxic compounds.

The work on Project BIANCO has so far resulted in the publication of two scientific papers in eminent international scientific journals. In one paper, we addressed the occurrence of neuroactive compounds in the environment, and presented research approaches, limitations, and challenges in development of biomarker-based strategy for their impact assessment. In another paper, we presented the results of investigation of the effects of caffeine on specific molecular processes in nerve cells. Although not of particular concern, due to the ubiquitous presence of caffeine in the aquatic environment and the in-


great scientific and professional relevance. Moreover, as a candidate country for EU membership, the Republic of Serbia is in the process of harmonisation of its regulations on chemicals with EU legislation. Therefore, a step forward in establishment of a legal frame for actions aimed to reduction of human and environmental health risk will reflect positively on Serbian legislation as well. In a broader context, the Project aims to define new adverse outcome pathways for neuroactive compounds in the aquatic environment and develop new strategies in their development relying on the utilization of so far insufficiently exploited scientific knowledge from the existing databases. Consequently, the project results are universal, recognizable and applicative in an international context, particularly in regulatory toxicology and environmental risk assessment, among other fields.


Dr Ivana Teodorović

tense global use of this substance, these effects should rather be taken seriously than neglected. Through numerous presentations at scientific conferences in Serbia and abroad we pointed out to the potential molecular targets for toxic action of neuroactive substances, primarily enzymes and transporters involved in the removal of neurotransmitters from the synapses, as well as certain elements involved in the release of neurotransmitters from the nerve cell and propagation of nerve impulses.

Full Professor, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad

Dr Tanja Tomić

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad

Dr Dina Tenji

Research Associate, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad

MA Irina Vulin

Support of the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia to scientific research in Serbia, including realization of investigations within the Project BIANCO, is of exceptional importance for the development of science in our country. The project BIANCO has been entirely realized in the Laboratory for Ecophysiology and Ecotoxicology (LECOTOX) at the Department of Biology and Ecology, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad. The obtained funds enabled realization of planned research activities, presentation of project results to scientific community and general public, as well as purchase of new laboratory equipment. The project implementation has launched the research of the group into a new area, and boosted innovativeness, professional capacities and competences of project participants. The project results will also create new research possibilities and professional opportunities and further enhance networking with colleagues from Serbia and abroad. Our daily activities also involve teaching, through which knowledge related to modern research in the field of ecophysiology and ecotoxicology is continuously transferred to students.

Research Assistant and PhD student, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad

The current approaches in chemical risk assessment do not cover adequately the potential risk posed by neuroactive compounds in the environment, as well as other potentially neurotoxic substances. Therefore, investigations focusing on definition of biomarkers of effect of neuroactive compounds are of

The professional plans of our research group are focused on further strengthening of the laboratory LECOTOX, through national and international research projects. In addition to improving our scientific potential, these new projects will, among other benefits, provide opportunities to attract and engage the best students with strong motivation. In stimulating working conditions and a creative atmosphere, they will realize their own and our shared scientific ideas and goals through which we will progress on individual level, as an academic community, and as a society as a whole.




Fungi are widely recognized as a primary cause of deterioration in cultural heritage sites worldwide, posing a significant threat to conservators, restorers, and other personnel responsible for preserving our shared cultural legacy. Given the irreplaceable nature of mankind’s heritage and the staggering annual expenditure of over $40 billion globally on repairing fungal-induced damage, identifying effective methods to control their proliferation with minimal impact on both humans and the environment is a pressing concern.

In Serbia, modern conservation practices align with global trends, emphasizing a holistic approach to safeguarding cultural heritage. This approach involves multidisciplinary investigations into the causes of decay and the limited use of harmful synthetic biocides. Recognizing the necessity for ecologically sound alternatives, a team of researchers from the Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade, led by Prof. Dr Nikola Unković and supported by Prof. Dr Milica Ljaljević Grbić, embarked on a project named „Promising natural alternatives for cultural heritage safeguarde: a force of nature” (PROTECTA).

Article author and Principal Investigator of the Project: Dr Nikola Unković Assistant Professor Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade

Project Acronym: PROTECTA

Project Title:

Promising natural alternatives for the cultural heritage safeguard: a force of nature


Program for Excellent Projects of Young Researchers – PROMIS

Budget: EUR 140,329

Scientific and Research organizations:

• Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade


This project, funded within the Program for Excellent Projects of Young Researchers (PROMIS) of the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia, aims to develop efficient and environmentally friendly alternatives to toxic biocides for treating infested cultural objects.

Collaborating with experts from cultural institutions such as the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Monuments of Serbia - Belgrade, the Museum of Science and Technology Belgrade, the National Museum in Belgrade, and the Faculty of Applied Arts in Belgrade, the team selected four diverse cultural artifacts for study:

1. The cave Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Rsovci village, housing a unique fresco painting known locally as „Bold Jesus” or „Young Jesus.”

2. The iconic red kiosk K-67 from the Museum of Science and Technology’s Collection of Industrial Design, symbolizing an era of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

3. A limestone sarcophagus from the archaeological site Viminacium, currently exhibited on Kalemegdan fortress in front of the Institute for the Protection of Culture Monuments in Belgrade.

4. The old Church of the Holy Ascension in Veliki Krčimir village, a site of personal significance to the research team.

move harmful fungi without compromising the structural or aesthetic integrity of the artifacts, the team explored the potential of beneficial bacteria, particularly those belonging to the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) group. Bacillus altitudinis, Chryseobacterium viscerum, and Streptomyces

Dr Miloš Stupar

Senior Research Associate, Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade

Dr Aleksandar Knežević

Senior Research Associate, Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade

Dr Ivica Dimkić

Senior Research Associate, Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade

Dr Željko Savković

Research Associate, Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade

Dr Milica Ljaljević Grbić

Full Professor, Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade

Over a two-year period, the team conducted extensive multidisciplinary research and developed a novel protocol based on decades of experience and cutting-edge equipment. They successfully identified the fungi responsible for decay symptoms and established a collection of fungal cultures for experimentation. Focusing on finding a natural formula to re-

anulatus emerged as promising candidates, demonstrating efficacy in laboratory models.

By adhering to the principle of „primum non nocere” (first, do no harm), the team ensured that their interventions prioritized the preservation of cultural goods. The next phase of research involves testing the formulated solutions on-site at selected cultural heritage sites in Serbia, with negotiations underway for collaboration with relevant authorities. While commercialization of the bioformulation requires careful consideration and further research, its potential to revolutionize conservation practices is significant.

In parallel, collaborative efforts with the Institute of Archaeology in Belgrade and the MoDeCo2000 project team, also funded by the PROMIS program, focus on safeguarding Trajan’s Bridge and newly excavated wooden artifacts from Viminacium. Such collaborations underscore the commitment to efficiently and sustainably preserve Serbia’s rich cultural heritage, aiming to elevate these treasures to the status of unique global heritage assets.



Atwo-year HiSuperBat project implemented by six young researchers employed at three scientific research institutions, was directed towards developing new generation battery materials with no lithium, and which would be based on available elements such as calcium, magnesium and or aluminum. The idea of the project came about as a result of several years of research in the area of energy storage.

HiSuperBat has brought new fundamental and practical knowledge in the field of energy storage that have been published in 12 international scientific publications and presented at 18 conferences. During the project, we have developed

Article Author and Principal Investigator of the project:

Dr Milica Vujković

Principal Research fellow, University of BelgradeFaculty of Physical Chemistry,

Project Acronym: HiSuperBat

Project Title:

High-capacity electrodes for charging of water, multivalent ionium battery and supercondensators: the next step towards the hybrid model


Program for excellent projects of young researchers – PROMIS

Project Budget: EUR 180,689

Scientific and Research Organizations:

• University of Belgrade - Faculty of Physical Chemistry

• Vinča Nuclear Research Institute, University of Belgrade

• Institute of Technical Sciences of SASA

materials that have a large and stable capacity for storing calcium and aluminum ions and therefore also possess a significant potential to be applied in the aluminum-ion supercapacitors and calcium-ion batteries. This has been achieved through the development of simple methods of synthesis that include carbonization of waste biomass and sol-gel procedure.

Project developed a new type of supercapacitor, based on aluminum ions and aqueous electrolyte, with workable voltage of 1.5 V, which is 0.5 V more than the classical aqueous supercapacitor offers. Its application can cover a broad spectrum of devices that are used in everyday life including LED lamps, hand watches, wireless headphones, wireless mice, keyboards, remote controls etc. It can also be used in sensor-based devices, for voltage stabilization, small and portable medical devices (pulse oximeters, sphygmomanometers) and such. In these applications, the super capacitor can be used for enabling quick charge, when necessary, in cases of short-duration mistakes in voltage or for extending the time of usage or extending one battery charge.

In addition to that, a high-capacity, 1.5 V coin-type calcium-ion battery cell has been developed and it is based on an


innovative concept of hybridization of the super capacitor carbon anode and battery oxide cathode in one cell unit. Such battery system could also be applied in devices for which not much energy is needed like watches, hearing aids, car keys, toys, calculators, sphygmomanometers and similar. The benefits of such cell are the absence of expensive and problematic metal lithium found in modern coin cell batteries, the use of ecological aqueous electrolyte instead of expensive and ignitable organic electrolyte that would reduce the price of battery and simplify its production. However, before these models of capacitor and battery cell can be applied, it is necessary to conduct further experiments in optimizing all the cell components (from the industrial point of view) and ensuring reproductivity of the electrode materials synthesis on a large scale.

For more demanding large-scale energy storage applications, developed materials could be applied by industrial procedure on larger surface areas of current collectors (both anode and cathode), which would be twisted in a spiral way so that they form cell units of cylindric or prism shape. Battery cells constructed in such a fashion could, hypothetically speaking, be connected regularly and parallelly in large numbers creating “battery blocks”, that would have potential to replace the lead accumulators or nickel-cadmium water systems as well as be applied in the stationary systems for storing renewable energy where the price and safety are more important than mass and energy. This would result in a system that is ecologically more acceptable, simpler to make and independent of critical components such as lithium. Because of that, project activities and results obtained are of great importance because they can contribute to solving one of the most important issues of modern society which is the pollution of the environment and reduction of CO2 emissions.

pressing circular electrodes, different forms of cells for testing materials and two modern potentiostat devices for testing energy storage systems. This made possible for one young team to organize its work around a very important topic and successfully sees through the activities planned which also created a platform for further progress in this research field.

Through participation at international conferences important contacts have been made with research communities in the region and in Europe which contributed to the spreading of contact networks within the academic community and strengthening of our professional and personal development. I would like to stress that we have also organized a symposium called COIN2022 which took place at the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. This was a joint activity with Montenegro and Slovenia, and it was supported by the Science Fund. This event made it possible for the Serbian scientific community not only to familiarize itself with the challenges and successes in the field of storage of energy in Europe but also to present its results and exchange the experience with well-known names of global science in this field. This also brought about my connections with some of the foremost experts in the field which opened doors to my engagement as lecturer at important battery themed conferences in Europe.

Finally, but not least, results of this project have opened new possibilities and ideas for future national and international project calls, and they have also identified problems which require further investigation. This is not just a finished project; it is a point of inception for further investigation and development in this field.


Dr Nikola Zdolšek

The methodology of investigation of the developed materials/systems was mostly based on the application of physiochemical methods of characterization of synthesized materials and electrochemical methods of testing of battery/ capacitor systems related to the coulombic capacitance, its stability during repetitive charge/discharge and working voltage. Thanks to the means obtained by the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia we have obtained the necessary equipment for constructing and testing cells such as tools for making and

Associate, Vinča Nuclear Research Institute, University of Belgrade

Dr Milica Vasić

Senior Research Associate, University of BelgradeFaculty of Physical Chemistry

Dr Miloš Milović

Senior Research Associate, Institute of Technical Sciences of SASA




Considering that we can combine two different worlds of human action and two different ways of thinking and working, we connected the methodologies of technical and social sciences and launched the AVANTES project (Advancing Novel Textual Similarity-based Solutions in Software Development). The University of Belgrade School of Electrical Engineering and the Faculty of Philology have joined forces, that is an institution that started Software Engineering studies 20 years ago and is one of our oldest higher education institutions dealing with the Serbian language. Our goal was to reduce the gap between natural and programming languages and bring software development and writing programming code closer to the communication we have in natural languages, such as Serbian and English. The importance of such a project was also recognized by the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia and was funded under the Program for Development of projects in the Field of Artificial Intelligence.

Working in modern-day software companies is dynamic and changeable. Fairly frequently developers change teams or companies. Then a newly hired developer joins a new team and happens to be unfamiliar with the current software development and design used within that team. It also happens that two teams or two companies merge into one during the development of software products and accept the code written by one of them. In such cases, there may be a problem of inadequate use of already existing programme code. Also, there is a practical problem of copyright infringement, when someone else’s code is used in a software product without a license and the owner’s knowledge. In all these examples there is a need to recognize the similarity between different programme codes.

Under the auspices of our project, we have developed a new software tool for similarity recognition based on code similarity and program comment similarity, which during software development helps in recognizing similar parts of code, models, and databases. In this way, the effort of maintaining software systems, reusing testing, or correcting similar errors is minimized. We have recognized and defined the relationship between descriptions of code, models and databases, written in natural language, and the software components they describe. Also, we found a similarity between the natural and programming languages through which the used elements are defined.

Implementing our tools is based on today’s very popular field of artificial intelligence, Natural Language Processing (NLP). It is a field that studies methods for computer processing and

interpretation of textual data written in one of the natural languages. Semantic problems in the processing of natural languages are important for understanding these questions, or tasks aimed at correctly understanding the meaning of texts. We were particularly interested in the semantic similarity of texts of different lengths (cross-level semantic similarity) when two texts of different lengths have the same semantic meaning. We dealt with this in Serbian and English languages, and we conducted research in two domains - newspaper articles and comments in the program code. The second question we solved was semantic code search. This procedure aims to find a code that semantically corresponds to a natural language query.

During the project implementation, we adhered to the principle of openness and public availability of scientific results. The obtained results have been presented in top international journals with open access and international conferences and

Article author and Principal Investigator of the Project: Dr Boško Nikolić Full Professor, School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade

Project Acronym: AVANTES

Project Title: Advancing Novel Textual Similarity-based Solutions in Software Development

Program: Program for Development of Projects in the Field of Artificial Intelligence

Project Budget: EUR 198,261

Scientific and Research Organizations:

• School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade

• Innovation Centre of the School of Electrical Engineering

• Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade

thus are available to the wider international research community. In addition, we would like to underline that the first models and publicly available datasets for semantic similarity of texts of different lengths and semantic code search for the Serbian language were created.


Our project can have an impact on a wide range of software development stakeholders. Innovations in natural language processing technologies applied to the Serbian language have been implemented. Researched topics, such as semantic similarities of texts of different lengths and semantic searches of code, are very relevant to new-generation software development methods and represent very promising research areas. Our following activities, which directly and indirectly resulted from the described project, speak in support of this.

Our laboratory - Belgrade Data Innovation Hub - which, among other things, presented the results and datasets of the AVANTES project, this year received a silver plaque for contributions to the European data community in seven areas - infrastructure and technological development, services, projects and applications, impact on the ecosystem, business strategy and sustainability, opportunities within the European data federation and ethics, by the European Big Data Value Association (BDVA), with the support of the European Commission. The COMtext. SR project aims to develop a basic set of resources and tools for automatic processing of texts in the Serbian language, both for ekavian and ijekavian dialects, which will be publicly available under a license that allows their use for any purpose, including commercial ones. The focus is on domains of texts that have not been considered so far in publicly available academic or commercial resources and tools for the Serbian language, such as legal-administrative, financial, medical, etc. The project is implemented by a consortium made by our Innovation Centre and the ReLDI Language Data Centre, with the financial support of domestic and foreign companies and foundations. The first goal was achieved in 2023, namely the improvement of text search in legal-administrative documents. The well-known German company Henkel recognized the new opportunities offered by our research and a long-term business cooperation was established which entails the provision of consulting services for the automation of the integration of business software systems in this company.

The support of the Science Fund has proven to be invaluable. The positive decision, along with the evaluations and detailed comments of international experts, gave us the know-how and guidelines for our research, as well as experience on how to define and present our future projects. A special incentive for scientific research was given to the youngest members of the team, who have since defended two doctorates and submitted four doctoral topics.


Dr Zaharije Radivojević

Associate Professor, School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade

Dr Dražen Drašković

Associate Professor, School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade

Dr Vuk Batanović

Researcher, Innovation Center of the School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade

MA Vladimir Jocović

Teaching Assistant, School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade

MA Tamara Šekularac

Teaching Assistant, School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade

MA Marko Mićović

Teaching Assistant, School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade

MA Uroš Radenković

Teaching Assistant, School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade

MA Jelica Cincović

Teaching Assistant, School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade

MA Adrian Milaković

Teaching Assistant, School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade

MA Dušan Stojković

Teaching Assistant, School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade

MA Aleksa Srblјanović

Teaching Assistant, School of Electrical Engineering, University of Belgrade

Dr Maja Miličević Petrović

Associate Professor, Department of Interpreting and Translation, University of Bologna

Dr Radoslava Trnavac

Associate Professor, Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade

Dr Tanja Samardžić

Researcher, Institute of Computational Linguistics, University of Zurich

Dr Borko Kovačević

Associate Professor, Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade



The project titled Extreme Weather Events in Serbia - Analysis, Modeling and Impacts - EXTREMES researches increasingly frequent and intense weather and climate extremes, such as heat waves, droughts, floods and storms, which have an impact on people and nature and cause damage and losses in our country. Since the year 2000, losses and damages from extreme climate events in our country have been estimated at over 7 billion euros. During the project, our team will use modern and innovative methodological approaches and the latest

technologies to explain these events and their cause, and analyze current consequences into possible risks in the future The EXTREMES project aims to provide a detailed analysis of extreme weather and climate events (heat waves, droughts, heavy rainfall, damage from hail, dense fog, etc.) in the past as well as their projections for the future. During the project, work will be done on improving numerical models for weather and climate simulation and modern methods for data analysis, as a basis for predicting extreme events, but also determining the impact of climate changes, especially future changes, on the intensity and frequency of weather and cli-


mate extremes. One of the focuses will be the establishment of easy, open and reliable access to this type of data and information in support of a wide range of potential users and to assess the risk and impact of extremes on various aspects of life in our country.

Considering the wide range of temporal and spatial scales of extreme events, as well as the need to process a large amount of data, methodological approaches will be very complex and diverse. One of the approaches is the identification and analysis of significant extreme events, using the classification system of synoptic situations developed for Serbia and through the analysis of data obtained from observations, as

Article Author and Principal Investigator of the Project:

Dr Vladimir Đurđević Full Professor, Institute of Meteorology, Faculty of Physics, University of Belgrade

Project Acronym: EXTREMES

Project Title:

Extreme weather events in Serbia - analysis, modelling and impacts

Program: PRISMA

Project Budget: EUR 284,422

Science and Research Organizations:

• Faculty of Physics, University of Belgrade

well as the results of numerical climate simulations. Then, a detailed analysis of convective clouds and microphysical processes will be supported by using a numerical model to simulate these processes. Changes in extremes through the distribution of key variables in the future climate will be separately analyzed, which will enable a better understanding of potential changes in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather and climate phenomena. Among other things, machine learning and artificial intelligence methods will be used in this type of analysis. Finally, developing a unique and complete database with information on extreme events in Serbia is the key project goal, which will support various sectoral impact studies and risk assessments. The project team will work to ensure that the main project result is a unique database created in a form that is easy to understand and accessible for wide use by the scientific community, national institutions, local communities and individual users. Considering that the interpretation of our results is very important for the general public, the presentation of the project results will also be a very important component of the project.

Climate change and the increased number of extremes associated with it represent one of the global problems that brought on initiatives and research from all over the world. Our research group has been building strong ties with interna-

Photo: © Shutterstock

tool was part of a wider process of supporting the recently adopted Republic of Serbia’s Programme of Adaptation to the Changed Climate Conditions. This project represents our group well, considering that it is a good example of integrating the latest scientific knowledge and modern technological possibilities, in such a way that they become a useful support to a large number of potential users.


Dr Ivana Tošić

Full Professor, Faculty of Physics, University of Belgrade

Dr Vladan Vučković

Associate Professor, Faculty of Physics, University of Belgrade

Dr Dragana Vujović

tional research groups in this field for years. The results of the regional climate model, which was developed by our group, became part of the Digital Atlas of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations ( ), which is the most relevant global source of information on climate change. Following this well-established tradition, we are confident that the results of the EXTREMES project will resonate at the international level. On the other hand, considering the comprehensive impact that weather and climate events have on people, the environment and infrastructure, the results that will the EXTREMES project generates will be useful in various fields and activities. In addition to the classification of extreme events and providing support for their better understanding, which will serve to provide a more complete overview of their impact on our country in the past, our team will also provide insight into the future trends of extreme events that could be used in the planning of strategically important activities such as agriculture, public health, environmental protection, water resources, energy, infrastructure, insurance, tourism, etc.

Associate Professor, Faculty of Physics, University of Belgrade

Dr Katarina Veljović Koračin

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Physics, University of Belgrade

Dr Nemanja Kovačević

The EXTREMES project team consists of 10 members who are part of one of the leading scientific research institutions in the region in meteorology and climatology. Our team members work in numerical forecasting and weather analysis, climate and climate changes, simulation and analysis of cloud dynamics and microphysics and it consists of experienced scientists from these fields and young researchers. One of the recent results, which can be interesting to a wider audience, and at the same time can well reflect the previous work of the EXTREMES project team, is our contribution to the creation of the first Digital Climate Atlas of Serbia (https:// ), in cooperation with the Neopix Company from Niš, commissioned by the Serbian Ministry of Environmental Protection. The development of this modern digital

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Physics, University of Belgrade

Dr Suzana Putniković

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Physics, University of Belgrade

Irida Lazić

research and teaching associate, Faculty of Physics, University of Belgrade

Milica Tošić

Research and Teaching Associate, Faculty of Physics, University of Belgrade

Darko Savić

Research and Teaching Associate, Faculty of Physics, University of Belgrade

The project will contribute to eliminating the gaps in the analysis of meteorological and climatological hazards identified by recent disaster risk assessments in the country. Through the development of a comprehensive analysis of extreme meteorological and climatological events, the project will provide key information that will enable users, including government, local authorities and the research community, to assess disaster risk in the future. Furthermore, young scientists and professionals from other fields will have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the analysis, interpretation and use of meteorology and climatology data. All these activities will contribute to the Republic of Serbia’s strategic goals related to disaster risk assessment, adaptation to climate change and increased resistance to climate extremes. On the other hand, the EXTREMES project also creates opportunities for cooperation with the business sector through the provision of relevant data and information about extreme weather and climate events in Serbia. The project will support different segments of our society, in terms of access to products that will be developed during the project, which will be easily accessible and open for integration in relevant analyses, assessments and research studies. During workshops and consultations, these products will be shaped in cooperation with potential users to meet their needs, including stakeholders from the business sector, such as agriculture, energy production sector, infrastructure, insurance sector, etc.



Acommonly asked question revolves around what life is like for individuals deprived of liberty, and how they navigate existence behind bars. However, there is no straightforward, definitive answer to this inquiry.

Life in prison is multifaceted, influenced by factors such as prison conditions, interpersonal dynamics, ethical considerations and moral principles within that environment. These elements have lasting effects not only on an individual’s time spent in confinement but also on their life post-release.

To comprehend life in prison, its determinants, and dependencies, it’s crucial to acknowledge that our legal system views prison not merely as punishment but also as an opportunity for the rehabilitation of inmates and their eventual successful reintegration into society. Our project delves into the prison experiences of inmates in Serbia, as perceived and lived by the convicts themselves. The project’s essence lies in aiding our understanding of the pivotal factors and facets of life within these institutions, and in devising strategies to monitor and enhance them.


The quality of life in Serbia’s prisons has been insufficiently researched thus far, although it is one of the most modern approaches to studying prisons. The quality of prison life is unique in every prison system, and research highlights that it largely determines whether the prison system serves solely as a means of punishment or as a resource for resocialization. Quality of prison life extends beyond physical conditions and restrictions on liberty; it encompasses the overall atmosphere prevailing from the moment a convict enters a prison. This includes levels of order and safety, relationships among convicts, interactions between convicts and staff, family contact, personal autonomy of the convict, professionalism of staff, administrative efficiency, adaptation to the prison environment, and care for vulnerable groups. In essence, it illustrates that each prison possesses its own distinct character.

PrisonLIFE delves into aspects previously deemed „unmeasurable” in research – the quality of life in Serbia’s prisons as an indirect gauge of moral and social climate. We believe this issue concerns us all. Inmates are more than mere statistics; their past experiences and prison life significantly shape not only their future but also the broader societal framework and safety. Therefore, our interdisciplinary approach aids in understanding how to cultivate an environment that fosters personal growth and deters criminal behavior. Our methodology scrutinizes various personal traits of inmates and their life narratives, correlating them with factors stemming from the prison environment. Our goal is to explore the prerequisites for creating an environment that empowers inmates to shift their choices towards pro-social and positive values, rather than clinging to survival-based identities within the prison, essentially determining what is necessary for them to opt for non-criminal behavior over criminal ones.

Previous research conducted worldwide confirms that a positive moral and social climate in prisons, coupled with consistent, humane, and professional

treatment, as well as efforts towards personal development, fosters a positive behavioral change among inmates. This often leads them to abandon criminal activities, thus facilitating their successful reintegration into society, reducing recidivism rates, and enhancing overall safety. We anticipate that our research findings will enhance our understanding of the role that favorable prison environments and experiences play in the rehabilitation of inmates in Serbia. Consequently, the PrisonLIFE project holds promise for a lasting positive impact on society as a whole.

In the project’s inaugural year, with the backing of the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Criminology, we tailored a questionnaire for assessing prison life quality. Subsequently, with support from the Administration for Execution of Criminal Sanctions and the Ministry of Justice of Serbia, we visited the country’s five largest correctional facilities, including a women’s prison, and collected data from 650 inmates.

This endeavor has not only enriched the academic community, particularly engaging students and early-career researchers, but has also attracted over 20 colleagues to participate in project activities. Consequently, we organized a National Scientific Conference where our emerging scholars presented their work and preliminary project findings, some of which were published in our institute’s scientific journal.

Article Author and Principal Investigator of the Project: Dr Milena Milićević senior research associate, Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research

Project Acronym: PrisonLIFE

Project Title: Assessment and possibilities for improving the quality of prison life of prisoners in the Republic of Serbia: Criminologicalpenological, psychological, sociological, legal and security aspects

Program: IDEAS

Project Budget: EUR 144,580

Scientific and Research Organizations:

• Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research

• University of Belgrade – Faculty of Special Education and Rehabilitation

A significant outcome of the project is the adaptation of a prison life quality assessment questionnaire for use in our country. Moreover, through close collaboration with both scientific and professional communities, encompassing practitioners and academics, we are developing guidelines for ongoing monitoring and enhancement of prison life quality. Additionally, we’re laying groundwork for future research and projects in this domain.

Towards the end of the second year, we organized a round table where preliminary recommendations for improving prison life quality in Serbia were formulated through dialogues with representatives from correctional institu-


tions, relevant governmental bodies, independent agencies, academia, and civil society. We plan to finalize and publish this document after a public discussion at an international scientific conference by the end of the third year implementation of the project.

Initial findings from the PrisonLIFE project reveal that the initial prison arrival and bureaucratic procedures induce similar levels of stress among all inmates, irrespective of prior prison experience. Factors such as living conditions, adaptation to prison life, and maintaining family ties were rated highest, while financial resources, recreational opportunities, safety, discipline, staff relations, and psychological well-being were identified as influential factors affecting inmate experiences. Some of our results corroborated that longer prison stays can exacerbate inmate suffering, yet as they engage in rehabilitation efforts and prepare for societal reintegration, they tend to perceive a greater sense of control over their lives and decisions.

Within the PrisonLIFE project, we have published over 20 scientific and expert outputs, and our podcast series, currently comprising four episodes with four more in production, aims to disseminate our findings widely. We maintain an active presence on social media platforms, regularly sharing engaging content aimed at the general public. Additionally, we will participate in a round table organized by the Institute of Criminology in Ljubljana, alongside the University of Sheffield and the Department of Law of the Freie University in Berlin, as part of the prestigious annual conference of the European Society of Criminology scheduled for September

2024 in Bucharest. Furthermore, we have initiated collaborations with other relevant institutions and researchers in the region, such as the Institute of Social Sciences Ivo Pilar in Zagreb.

We believe it’s crucial for society to engage in conversations about the prison experience, and we hope that by raising awareness of our project, we can challenge prevailing negative perceptions of prisons and inmates. We anticipate that our research will foster a shift in public opinion regarding inmate rehabilitation and the practical application of international standards. Through this endeavor, we aim to stimulate discussions, drive policy changes, and ultimately improve the lives of inmates.


Dr Ljeposava Ilić

Senior Research Associate, Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research, University of Belgrade

Dr Olivera Pavićević

Senior Research Associate, Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research, University of Belgrade

Dr Ana Batrićević

Senior Research Associate, Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research, University of Belgrade

Dr Sanja Ćopić

Associate Professor Faculty of Special Education and Rehabilitation, University of Belgrade

Dr Ivana Stevanović

Senior Research Associate, Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research, University of Belgrade

Dr Janko Međedović

Senior Research Associate, Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research, University of Belgrade

MA Aleksandar Stevanović

Research Assistant, Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research, University of Belgrade

MA Nikola Drndarević

Research Assistant, Institute of Criminological and Sociological Research, University of Belgrade





33 WE-Succed

The economic empowerment of women and their entrepreneurial activity are important indicators of the development of a certain society. The WE-Succeed project is based on the understanding that the entrepreneurial activity of women can contribute to elevating the quality of life and achieving greater social equality. The WE-Succeed project investigates the effects that management decisions of female entrepreneurs in the manufacturing sector of the Republic of Serbia have on their business performance.

WE-Succeed was conceived as a response to certain challenges that exist in the research of women’s entrepreneurial activity, primarily those related to the following:

• The entrepreneurial activity of women is less pronounced. Consistent with the global situation, the gender gap in entrepreneurial activity exists in the Republic of Serbia. Out of the total number of companies and entrepreneurs in the Republic of Serbia, on average, only 28% have women as owners or founders. In Serbia, gender inequality in entrepreneurship reflects the general gender inequality that is present in the political, economic, and wider social inclusion of women.

• Research on women’s entrepreneurial activity is insufficient or inadequate. Studies of female entrepreneurs often use gender-biased and masculinized criteria and concepts that are imposed on women through research questionnaires. This research practice puts female entrepreneurs in a subordinate

Article Author and Principal Investigator of the Project: Dr Danijela Stošić Panić

Professor, Faculty of Economics, University of Niš

Project Acronym: WE-Succed

Project Title: Researching Women Entrepreneurs’ Management Practice in Order to Improve Their Competencies to Achieve Business Success

Program: Program IDENTITIES

Project Budget: EUR 135,496

Scientific and Research Organizations:

• Faculty of Economics, University of Niš

position and cannot register potential differences in women’s approach to business. Despite the agreement that qualitative aspects of business performance are important to female entrepreneurs, almost all studies of female entrepreneurs almost exclusively use some financial measure as an indicator of business success. Exclusive reliance on one type of business success indicator does not provide a complete insight into the entrepreneurial activity of women and their performance.

Although with undoubtedly significant economic and social potential, the entrepreneurial activity of women is still insufficiently studied, especially outside of developed countries. Research on female entrepreneurs in the manufacturing sector is even scarcer. Research on female entrepreneurs in Serbia is needed, but they are rare and have methodological shortcomings. Although at the global level, research on women’s entrepreneurial activity is ghettoized because the results are dominantly published in gender-oriented or lower-ranked journals, this is an even bigger problem in developing countries. Studies conducted outside English-speaking countries and the European Union are rare and less likely to be published in top journals.

• Policies and measures to support women’s entrepreneurial activity are not based on empirical records and results of scientific research. Entrepreneurship is recognized in the strategic, institutional and regulatory framework of the Republic of Serbia as a way to improve the economic participation of women and to achieve gender equality. However, the specific position of women is not recognized by mainstream economic policy in Serbia. Gender perspective is not sufficiently included in official economic and entrepreneurial policies and regulations, which do not offer specific forms of support. Gender analyses of entrepreneurship support programmes confirm that there are no targeted and continuous efforts and measures to support the inclusion of women in the growing, innovative, profitable economies of the future, such as the green and circular economy. In the described environment, it should not be surprising that the National Strategy for Gender Equality for the 2021-2030 period emphasizes that measures to improve the entrepreneurial activity of women and their economic empowerment have yielded poor results and have not contributed to closing the gender gap in the economy.

• Insufficient visibility of the research results of scientists from the Republic of Serbia, especially in social sciences.



Dr Aleksandra Anđelković

Associate Professor, Faculty of Economics, University of Niš

Dr Marija Radosavljević

Full Professor, Faculty of Economics, University of Niš

Dr Vesna Janković-Milić

Full Professor, Faculty of Economics, University of Niš

Dr Bojana Novićević Čečević

Associate Professor, Faculty of Economics, University of Niš

The annual rate of researchers from Serbia producing papers that are published in internationally referenced journals is lower than the average European rate. This is especially pronounced in social sciences and humanities, where only 10% of scientific papers are published in international journals.

• Lack of research results that can be transferred to industry. The scope of university-industry cooperation in research and development in the Republic of Serbia is narrow. The publication of scientific papers is the most common result of the research activity of scientists in Serbia. Although scientific papers signal a certain research potential, the structure of the research results indicates that this potential is not translated into concrete and applicable market solutions.

Responding to the challenges, the project contributes to the accomplishment of several national strategic goals concerning the competitiveness of women’s entrepreneurial activity, gender equality, cooperation between universities and the business sector, elevating the quality and visibility of Serbian science, as well as academic mobility. WE-Succeed is a breakthrough in the research of female entrepreneurs because it considers gender perspective in research design by conducting both qualitative and quantitative research and introducing gender-specific variables, as well as by expanding the set of indicators used to measure business success. The results of WE-Succeed research on a representative sample of female entrepreneurs in the manufacturing sector in the Republic of Serbia will be published in internationally recognized journals and presented at international scientific conferences.

Also, the results of the WE-Succeed scientific research will serve as an empirical basis for devising recommendations for policymakers and support measures for female entrepreneurs, as well as for a practical management guide for female entrepreneurs. Finally, WE-Succeed will produce a ready-to-use business solution as a free mobile application to support female entrepreneurs in managing their businesses. In this way, the Project exceeds the practice of researchers in the Republic of Serbia, which implies that research results are predominantly related to scientific papers, published mostly in national journals.

In the described context, WE-Succeed will add to the knowledge of women’s entrepreneurial activity by identifying its characteristics in less researched environments, such as developing countries and the manufacturing sector; contribute to the consolidation of theories and a complete understanding of the complex phenomenon of entrepreneurship; encourage further research into the entrepreneurial activity of women; inform the adoption of public policies to support female entrepreneurs; boost the competitiveness of female entrepreneurs in the Republic of Serbia, as well as their socio-economic position; improve research and innovation capacity and increase the international visibility of researchers from the Republic of Serbia in the field of social sciences; and will generate business applicable knowledge that will facilitate social and economic development.



One of the biggest global problems of modern society today is the increasing scarcity of drinking water resources. The increased content of arsenic in groundwater, which is used as a basic resource for drinking water around the world, is a serious threat to the preservation of human health. A multidisciplinary team consisting of scientists from the Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad and the Institute for Multidisciplinary Research, University of Belgrade launched the NanoCompAs project in order to find an innovative, but long-term sustainable solution for removing arsenic from water. The

Аrticle Author and Principal Investigator of the Project:

Dr Jasmina Agbaba

Full Professor, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad

Project Acronym: NanoCompAs

Project Title:

Scale up of bifunctional Fe-Mn binary oxide nanocomposite filter media: an innovative approach for water purification


Green Program of Cooperation between Science and Industry

Project Budget:

EUR 140,503

Scientific and Research Organizations:

• Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad;

• Institute for Multidisciplinary Research, University of Belgrade

importance of research in this area has been recognized by the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia, which enabled the implementation of the NanoCompAs project as part of the Green Program of Cooperation between Science and Industry.


Adsorption techniques are the most commonly applied techniques for arsenic removal in drinking water treatment due to their high economic profitability, efficiency, and technical simplicity in terms of process handling and control. Most commercially available adsorbents require pretreatment to bring arsenic into a form suitable for removal from water. However, the introduction of pretreatment increases the costs of the drinking water preparation process, making it unsuitable for less developed areas, which are also the most affected by this problem. To find an efficient and economically sustainable solution, adsorbents based on highly efficient nanomaterials are being intensively developed today. One of the materials of the new generation are nanoparticles of Fe-Mn binary oxide (FMBO). These particles have already been shown to be very effective in removing arsenic in the laboratory, however, they are difficult to apply in continuous flow systems.

To overcome these shortcomings, a bifunctional nanocomposite filter media (FMBOnc) will be developed within the NanoCompAs project. In this way, the basis for commercialization of a filter product will be obtained. This filter will be suitable for continuous water treatment process applications. The next step will be to increase the production of the filter media, in order to provide sufficient quantities of material for further laboratory and semi-industrial research. Initial filter testing will include physicochemical characterization, quality control, and arsenic removal efficiency testing.

The NanoCompAs project will also explore possible solutions for extending the life of FMBOnc as well as its reuse. Depending on the needs, the possibility of stabilizing the material will be investigated before its disposal in the landfill. Research on a semi-industrial scale, which will include the treatment of a large amount of groundwater from the

territory of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, will confirm the performance of FMBOnc in terms of arsenic removal.

As a team, we expect that the NanoCompAs project will develop a cost-effective and efficient solution for removing arsenic from drinking water, which will significantly improve the health and quality of life of people living in regions affected by this problem. In addition, the results of the project will benefit decisionmakers, as well as the academic community focused on environmental protection technologies.


Dr Srđan Rončević

Full Professor, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad

Dr Mirjana Vijatović Petrović

Principal Research Fellow, Institute for Multidisciplinary Research, University of Belgrade

Dr Malcolm Watson

Associate Professor, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad

Dr Jasna Atanasijević

Associate Professor, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad

Dr Jasmina Nikić

Research Associate, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad

Dr Maja Vujić

Research Associate, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad

MSc Jovana Pešić

Research Assistant, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad

MSc Jovana Jokić Govedarica

Research Assistant, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad

MSc Đorđe Pejin

Junior Research Assistant, Faculty of Sciences, University of Novi Sad

Dr Jovana Pešić


Article author and Principal investigator of the PhytoPFAS Project: Dr Vladimir Beškoski full professor, University of Belgrade-Faculty of Chemistry

Project acronym: PhytoPFAS

Project Name:

Phytoremediation for in situ treatment of agricultural soil and surface waters polluted with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances – research on PFOS and PFOA as model compounds.

Scientific and research organizations:

• University of Belgrade-Faculty of Chemistry

• University of Belgrade-Institute of Chemistry, Technology, and Metallurgy

• University of Belgrade-Faculty of Physical Chemistry

• University of Belgrade-Faculty of Medicine

Program: Green Program of Cooperation between Science and Industry

Project budget: EUR 174,158

Harmful compounds have been present in water, soil, plants, and numerous organisms for over 80 years, used across various industries. The story of per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) begins with a common occurrence in science, yet it requires keen and careful observation. In the 1940s, while working on synthesizing new compounds, chemists at „DuPont” observed that certain compounds exhibited resistance to both water and oil, leading to the commercial patent of „Teflon.” These compounds, unprecedented in nature, found applications in numerous industries over the years, from waterproofing jackets and shoes to fire-fighting foams, coatings for food packaging, cosmetics, medicine, automotive, and telecommunication devices. However, PFAS compounds contain one of the strongest covalent bonds in


nature (carbon-fluorine), rendering them highly resistant to biodegradation, presenting a significant challenge for their removal from the environment.

By the end of the last century, scientists had detected PFAS compounds in water, plants, food, blood, and breast milk. Pandora’s box has been opened, and in recent years, they have been found in water, soil, and numerous organisms. While their presence near manufacturing plants is unsurprising, PFAS have been detected even in remote regions such as the Arctic and Antarctica. Moreover, some studies indicate that exposure to PFAS compounds is associated with adverse health effects, including compromised immune responses, elevated cholesterol, thyroid hormone disruption, reduced birth weight, and more. Consequently, the use of these compounds is increasingly restricted, with maximum allowable concentrations being prescribed in food and water. PFAS compounds pose a global challenge, as evidenced by the Hollywood film „Dark Waters,” which depicts the legal battle of attorney Robert Bilott against „DuPont.”

The PhytoPFAS project, funded by the Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia, is implemented by the multidisciplinary team, comprising fifteen researchers from the fields of chemistry, biochemistry, and physical chemistry from four academic institutions at the University of Belgrade: the Faculty of Chemistry, the Institute of Chemistry, Technology, and Metallurgy, the Faculty of Physical Chemistry, and the Faculty of Medicine.

The main goal of the PhytoPFAS project is to develop the use of plants (phytoremediation) for cleaning up contaminated environments and establish a solid foundation for the application of this technology in collaboration with industry. The PhytoPFAS team will investigate the possibility of plant uptake of PFAS compounds using various plant species in soil and hydroponic systems. After selecting the most efficient species, plants will be tested at laboratory and pilot scales. Commercial application of the developed technology is then planned. Phytoremediation can be applied to remediate existing pollution and prevent new contamination. The broader population and industry will benefit from phytoremediation, as it will contribute to a cleaner and healthier environment, as well as more efficient use of natural resources and waste reduction.

Researchers from the Faculty of Chemistry of the University of Belgrade are also coordinating another significant project related to PFAS compounds, PFAStwin, funded by the European Research Executive Agency, which aims to strengthen Serbia’s capacities for the analytics and bioremediation of PFAS compounds.


Dr Goran Roglić

Full Professor, University of Belgrade-Faculty of Chemistry

Dr Branimir Jovančićević

Full Professor, University of Belgrade-Faculty of Chemistry

Dr Ljubodrag Vujisić

Associate Professor, University of Belgrade-Faculty of Chemistry

Dr Marija Lješević

Scientific Associate, University of Belgrade-Institute of Chemistry, Technology, and Metallurgy

Dr Branka Lončarević

Scientific Associate, University of Belgrade-Institute of Chemistry, Technology, and Metallurgy

Dr Gordana Gojgić Cvijović

Scientific Advisor, University of Belgrade-Institute of Chemistry, Technology, and Metallurgy

Dr Nikoleta Lugonja

Higher Scientific Associate, University of BelgradeInstitute of Chemistry, Technology, and Metallurgy

Dr Kristina Joksimović

Scientific Associate, University of Belgrade-Institute of Chemistry, Technology, and Metallurgy

Kristina Kasalica

PhD student, University of Belgrade-Institute of Chemistry, Technology, and Metallurgy

Dr Dragomir Stanisavljev

Full Professor, University of Belgrade-Faculty of Physical Chemistry

Dr Itana Nuša Bubanja

Scientific Associate, University of Belgrade-Faculty of Physical Chemistry

Dr Ivanka Karadžić

Full Professor, University of Belgrade-Faculty of Medicine

Dr Lidija Izrael Živković

Associate Professor, University of Belgrade-Faculty of Medicine

Dr Ana Medić

Assistant Professor, University of Belgrade-Faculty of Medicine



To understand what the SMAIPROTACs project wants to achieve, first, we need to go back to SMA’s etiology . Babies with SMA are born with a significantly reduced amount of a protein called SMN, which plays a key role in the development of motor neurons, responsible for transmitting signals from the brain

Аrticle Author and Principal Investigator of the Project: Dr Milan Mladenović

Full Professor, Faculty of Sciences, University of Kragujevac

Project Acronym: SMAIPROTACs

Project Title:

Artificial Intelligence-Guided Design, Synthesis, and Pharmacological Evaluation of Innovative PROTACs as Degraders of HDAC4, an Epigenetic Target for Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Program: Program PRISMA

Project Budget: EUR 284,781

Scientific and Research Organizations:

• Faculty of Sciences, University of Kragujevac

• Institute for Information Technologies, University of Kragujevac

• Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade

and spinal cord to the muscles. In other words, the existence of the SMN protein is necessary for muscle contraction in the baby, and therefore for normal breathing, normal movements and normal neurological functions. The biosynthesis of the SMN protein is conditioned by the expression of two almost identical genes, SMN1 and SMN2. А fully functional SMN protein is obtained from the SMN1 gene, and SMA patients are born without the SMN1 gene. On the other hand, only 10-15% of the fully functional SMN protein can be produced from the SMN2 gene, which is not enough to prevent the disease from occurring. Also, during the patient’s life, the availability of the SMN protein from the SMN2 gene gradually decreases, leading to the death of motor neuron cells and resulting in the absence of nerve signals to the skeletal muscles (denervation) and a reduced ability for the muscles to contract.

Currently, the treatment of SMA is to restart the production of the SMN protein. Zolgensma™ as a gene therapy and the most expensive drug in the world, 2.125 million US dollars per therapy, is nothing but a part of the genetic material from a harmless adenovirus, which contains the SMN1 gene and which, when transfected into the baby’s genome, should stimulate biosynthesis of the SMN protein. All other approved therapies tend to initiate SMN protein bioproduction from the SMN2 gene. Unfortunately, this does not mean that all symptoms of SMA will disappear completely, and therefore very often babies cannot walk, or they can use their limbs with difficulty. The goal of the SMAIPROTACs project is to develop the so-called palliative therapy, i.e. therapy that will alleviate symptoms of SMA and speed up recovery if used with gene therapy or similar therapies.


The symptoms of SMA are further aggravated by a protein called HDAC4, which in muscles stimulates other proteins to cause muscle denervation and death. The SMAIPROTACs project will try to develop chemical molecules that will degrade HDAC4 in the cell and thus prevent muscle denervation and death in the first place. It would be a unique approach in the palliative treatment of SMA that has not been researched in the world so far.

The SMAIPROTACs project will develop such molecules using the so-called PROTAC technology. PROTAC molecules will have a double function: the first part of the molecule will locate the HDAC4 protein in the cell and bind to it, while the second part of the molecule will bind to an additional protein, the socalled E3 ligase, which will transfer the HDAC4 protein to special cell organelles called proteosomes, where HDAC4 protein degradation will take place. After the desired downregulation of the HDAC4 protein, the progression of SMA would temporarily) slow down, until the biosynthesis of a new amount of protein, because there would be no denervation and muscle death. We think that our PROTAC molecules would be very beneficial prior to, during, and after therapy with approved drugs and would greatly accelerate recovery from SMA.

The development of such PROTAC molecules will involve several phases. First, we will develop a part of the PROTAC molecule that will bind to HDAC4, the so-called HDAC4 inhibitor. By applying the explainable artificial intelligence, we will find out why known HDAC4 inhibitors (none of which have previously been tested against SMA) are active and how to chemically alter such inhibitors to increase their activity. We will then assign the drug design rules we come up with to generative artificial intelligence to design new, even more active HDAC4 inhibitors. We will predict the activity and toxicity of newly designed HDAC4 inhibitors using explainable artificial intelligence, synthesize molecules with the best-predicted pharmacology, and test whether they inhibit HDAC4 in laboratory conditions.


Dr Nevena Tomašević

Teaching Assistant , Faculty of Sciences, University of Kragujevac

Dr Sanja Matić

Senior Research Associate, Institute for Information Technologies, University of Kragujevac

Dr Vladimir Savić

Full Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade

Dr Milena Simić

Full Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade

Dr Predrag Jovanović

Associate Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade

Dr Gordana Tasić

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Belgrade

Considering that the SMAIPROTACs project is still in its initial phase, the results we have obtained so far are related to the rational design of new HDAC4 protein inhibitors, research into optimal synthetic routes, and preparation for pharmacological evaluation. More serious results in terms of developed PROTAC candidate molecules for clinical studies can be expected in two to two and a half years. If one of the developed PROTAC molecules enters clinical trials and is approved as a drug, the use of such a drug would significantly facilitate the recovery of babies from spinal muscular

atrophy, and thus the quality of life of entire families would be improved. Serbian society would unite even more in the fight against rare diseases, knowing that they are effectively treated in Serbia. On the other hand, speaking of percentages, the number of children suffering from SMA in Serbia is similar to that in each of the countries of the European Union or the world. Thus, the results of the SMAIPROTACs project would have global significance because the developed PROTAC molecules could be applied anywhere in the world as palliative therapy.




Project FF GreEN is focused on change and use of energy in households. The idea behind the project is to help and accelerate the transition towards application of renewable sources of energy end more energy-efficient technology in households around Serbia. This process is called energy transition. During the project, computer models that describe energy transition in households are made and they encompass the technical, economic, and sociological aspects of that process and its limitations. Project team will propose a path and means how to execute, in the easiest and most efficient manner, this process with minimal influence on the environment.

In households, significant amount of energy is used. How much energy is used and what is the impact of this usage on the environment depends on technologies applied but also on the habits and behavior of household members. The project deals with technology analysis referring to technologies that are currently used in households and it will also propose new, more energy-efficient technologies that are based on renewable sources of energy. Detailed research will be done, and household surveys will be included to establish the habits of household members when it comes to energy use and also regarding what they would wish to change in this aspect. The optimization of technology choices will be performed based on technological parameters of equipment and bearing in mind the limitations that derive from socio economic and culture characteristics of households. A detailed plan of energy transition in a household will be made for a selected municipality in the Republic of Serbia based on models made and surveys done, and this plan will consider energy, ecological, financial and broader social aspects of this process.

In addition to stimulating increased participation of renewable energy sources and efficiency of energy use in households, specific objectives of the project are related to:

• Data systematization when it comes to advanced technologies of energy use in households

• Collecting and analyzing data on socioeconomic and cultural aspects related to the use of energy in households

• Improving energy management and stimulating decision making processes by including innovative software tools and procedures in the process of energy planning policy formation, scenario development and estimation of expected effects

• Roadmap development for energy transition in household sector until 2050 for the selected municipality

• Establishing communication channels between research-

ers, decision makers and all other interested parties (social and market stakeholders)

The project has the ambition to provide a contribution to science but also to practice by integrating three different approaches and creating an innovative framework for energy planning. Integration and interaction of expert knowledge related to analysis and modeling of energy systems, „Participatory backcasting” approach which includes a broad spectrum of interested parties, and a simulation of behavior of households through modeling based on agents („Agent-based modeling”) will be established.

Article Author and Principal Investigator of the Project:

Project Acronym: FF GreEN

Project Title:

Framework for accelerating green transition in households

Program: Program PRISMA

Project Budget: EUR 263,919

Scientific and Research Organizations:

• Faculty of Mining and Geology, University of Belgrade

• Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University of Belgrade,

• Inovation Centre of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, University of Belgrade

• Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade

• Faculty of Agriculture, University of Belgrade

The end goal is to establish a framework for follow-up, analysis and evaluation of instruments of energy policy. This framework mainly makes possible testing of political instruments before their implementation, but it also makes possible dynamic following of cause and consequence relations in a real system. An innovative methodological approach can be applied to other planning processes in the energy sector as well, especially


when a group of users is strongly heterogeneous, and it can even be replicated in other areas and sectors when it is important to take into consideration specific knowledge. This research will contribute to resolving open questions not only in engineering sciences but also in socio-humanistic sciences, creating a bridge for further joint investigation.

Project results that have so far been obtained have been published at two international conferences, and the publishing of results at other science conferences is expected.

In addition, as a result of project work, following materials will be publicly available on project website:

• Monography on advanced heating and cooling technologies in residential sector

• Report on research executed, related to sociological aspects off energy use in households

• Technical report on analysis of expenses during life cycle and reduction of emissions of technologies taken into consideration, based on the RES in households

• Tool for supporting energy transition in households (software)

• Guide for green transition in households – handbook

• Roadmap (with action plans) for energy transition of households for selected municipality until 2050

Decision makers, managers in the energy field, public and utility companies, as well as interested citizens, will receive a detailed handbook with instructions for the application of the proposed methodology framework. The project will provide models and

estimations of household energy use divided by activity end energy source as well as proposals of the optimal conceptual solutions for meeting energy needs. When it comes to promoting project results, significant help is expected from the Standing Conference of Cities and Municipalities of Serbia conference, umbrella organization of local self-governance units in Serbia, which has supported this project since the competition application phase.


Dr Marija Živković

Full Professor, Faculty of Mining and Geology

Dr Mirko Komatina

Full Professor, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

Dr Dragi Antonijević

Principal Research Fellow, Innovation Centre of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

Dr Dušan Mojić

Full Professor, Faculty of Philosophy

Dr Olivera Ećim-Djurić

Associate Professor, Faculty of Agriculture

Dr Dušan Danilović

Associate Professor, Faculty of Mining and Geology

Dr Boban Pavlović

Research Associate, Faculty of Mining and Geology

Dr Miroslav Crnogorac

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Mining and Geology

Dr Aleksandar Madžarević

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Mining and Geology

Dr Dimitrije Manić

Research associate, Inovation Centre of the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

The results of this research will directly benefit local communities, cities and settlements within the municipalities, given that the proposed methodological framework for energy planning will be applied/ tested on a specific local community. The local self-governance unit will receive an action plan with identified appropriate measures and activities for more intense use of renewable energy sources for heating/ cooling and production of electric energy in individual households. Given that the RESs are of local origin and the energy produced is mainly used locally, this will strongly stimulate the local economic development, a fairer transition, reduction of unemployment end it will improve life standard end life conditions.





45 GraSP_MAT

According to an estimation of the Institute of Public Health of Serbia Dr Milan Jovanović Batut, there are approximately 700,000 people in Serbia today with diabetes wounds or at risk of developing them. These wounds tend to be accompanied by serious complications with potentially deadly outcomes and therefore present a major medical problem. People with diabetes suffer from weakened capacity of wound healing which can result in inflammation of chronic wounds and infections. Consequently, there is an urgent need for development of formulations on natural basis with antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidative properties, which speed up the wound healing process and, at the same time, represent a safer and more sustainable alternative to antibiotics. For the mentioned problems to be resolved, research has been focused on the development of biomaterials such as bioactive hydrogels. Bioactive hydrogels offer several advantages compared to already existing wound treatment. They enable precise control of the controlled release of bioactive compounds, which can contribute to prolonged action and more efficient use of active ingredients. Apart from that, hydrogels also have the capacity to retain water, which can create a humid environment favorable for the wound healing process. Their flexibility and formability also make them appropriate for different kinds of wounds, including those that are located on hard-to-reach parts of the body. Such materials have the potential to accelerate wound healing and prevent or reduce infections, which is of great significance when it comes to patients suffering from diabetes but also patients who suffer from other types of chronic wounds.

Project titled “Unleashing Nature’s Potential: Using Grape Skin Extract and Sustainable Materials for Advanced Chronic Wound Therapy”, (GraSP_MAT) is focused on connecting the economy of Serbia with science to resolve the global chronic wound problem and to maintain the key role of an interdisciplinary approach in resolving medical challenges. The GraSP_MAT team has decided to research the potential uses of grape skin extract as

a replacement for antibiotics with the objective of wound healing. Given that grape extracts, and especially grape skin extracts, contain numerous bioactive substances including flavonoids, polyphenols and anthocyanins that are known for their antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, they have significant potential in development of new therapies that could be helpful in improving the wound healing process and reducing the need for conventional medical solutions. Therefore, the main objective of this project is extraction and preservation of bioactive compounds from grape skins, which are waste products of the Šumadija wine industry, and their incorporation into hydrogels and subsequent examination of application of these materials in advanced treatment of chronic wounds. The development of bioactive hydrogels with controlled release can offer an innovative approach in treatment of chronic wounds, especially considering the biological features of skin extracts of autochthonous grape varieties. Controlled release of these compounds can assist in accelerating the healing process, reduce inflammation and

Article author and Principal Investigator of the Project: Dr Edina Avdović

Senior Research Associate, Institute for Information Technologies, University of Kragujevac

Project Acronym: GraSP_MAT

Project Title: Unleashing Nature’s Potential: Using Grape Skin Extract and Sustainable Materials for Advanced Chronic Wound Therapy

Program: Program for Еxcellent Projects of Young Researchers and Scientists in the Early Stage of Career – PROMIS 2023

Project Budget: EUR 146,800

Scientific and Research Organizations:

• Institute for Information Technologies, Universityof Kragujevac

• Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Kragujevac



Dr Jovana Bradić

Associate Professor, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Kragujevac

Dr Anica Petrović

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Kragujevac

MSc Marko Antonijević, Research Assistant, Institute for Information Technologies, University of Kragujevac

MSc Aleksandar Kočović

Teaching Assistant, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Kragujevac

MSc Marko Simić

PhD Student, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Kragujevac

prevent infections, all of which are key factors in treating diabetes-related and other chronic wounds.

Advantages of hydrogels based on grape skin extract are:

1) An alternative to antibiotics and other conventional medical solutions. - Hydrogels based on grape skin extracts can be an alternative to the use of antibiotics due to their natural antioxidant and antimicrobial features. Reduction of antibiotic use helps to overcome the problem of antibiotic resistance which presents a major global medical challenge. 2) Reduction of hard waste. Limiting the use of antibiotics and replacing them with hydrogels can reduce generation of medical waste and thus contribute to the reduction of the amount of waste that ends up in landfills. - This is particularly important because medical waste is often contaminated and can pose a major ecological problem. 3) Conservation of natural resources. - Using the grape skin extract instead of synthetical substances or antibiotics contributes to the conservation of natural resources. Grape skin can be obtained as a byproduct of the Serbian wine industry which reduces the need for synthetic resources. 4) Reduction of contamination and global warming. - Reduction of antibiotic use and better management of medical waste can help reduce water and soil contam-

ination and, therefore, global warming. This approach contributes to the preservation of ecosystems and biodiversity.

Results of our investigation will directly contribute to addressing diabetes and chronic wound problems by improving the quality of life of diabetes patients and reducing the risk of serious complications. This project has the potential to provide concrete benefits to the medical sector and become a key resource in fighting against complications caused by chronic wounds. In addition, this research stresses the importance of strengthening the bonds between sectors that are often considered separate, and contributes to the synergy between Serbia’s wine industry and scientific community. It enables exchange of knowledge and resources which can be crucial for obtaining sustainable development and promotion of both the wine industry and science. GraSP_MAT has the potential to bring concrete benefits to both the Serbian wine industry and the scientific community while simultaneously addressing challenges in the field of chronic wound healing. Additionally, the GraSP_MAT project, with its focus on resolving the global issue of chronic wounds has the potential to bring specific benefits to the global community as well. Using these extracts in combination with hydrogels based on natural polymers in treatment of chronic wounds not only offers a way to maximize the use of natural resources but it also provides possibilities for the development of new therapeutic options that are safer and are not prone to antibiotic resistance. In this way, the use of antibiotics in wound treatment would be avoided, which is one of the main goals of the global action plan for antimicrobial resistance of the World Health Organization (WHO). Specifically, the results of our project will have a positive impact not only on the health of patients, but they will also significantly contribute to industry, economy, environment, society, and further development of the scientific community. This project can stimulate further investigation of application of polyphenols derived from various natural resources, broadening the array of possibilities for the development of new therapeutic solutions. Ultimately, this project can become an example of how scientific research innovations can have long term and positive influence on the society and the world.



Antimicrobial resistance and air pollution have been identified as one of the most serious threats to human health worldwide. The excessive and inappropriate use of antimicrobials in the treatment of humans and animals, as well as in agriculture, has led to the emergence and rapid

spread of pathogens resistant to almost all clinically relevant antibiotics. Antibiotic resistance was estimated to be the direct cause of 1.27 million deaths worldwide in 2019, while it was associated with almost 5 million deaths. If a quick and effective solution to this problem is not found, it could be the cause of up to 10 million deaths annually by 2050.


Furthermore, the World Health Organization estimated that air pollution led to approximately 4.2 million premature deaths in 2019 globally. The main reason for this is considered to be overexposure to PM2.5 particles, which can penetrate the lungs and bloodstream, causing respiratory, cardiovascular, and malignant diseases. In 2021, it was estimated that as much as 97% of the urban population was exposed to concentrations of PM2.5 particles above than recommended making the situation extremely worrying. The countries of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe are particularly affected by increased PM2.5 concentrations and a higher number of deaths caused by air pollution. The main reason for more pronounced air pollution in these countries is the use of low-quality solid fuels and ovens in households during the heating season when the highest levels of air pollution was observed.

To prevent increasing resistance to antimicrobial drugs, the European Commission highlighted the importance of the link between humans, animals, and the environment in the transmission of this significant health problem. In this context, the data collection and monitoring of antimicrobial resistance in the environment is of great importance for the overall picture of resistant pathogens transmission. Although the presence and diversity of antibiotic resistance in water and soil have been extensively studied in recent years, studies addressing the monitoring of this problem, and the link between air pollution and antibiotic resistance are much rarer. Nevertheless, these studies are of extraordinary importance, as airspace enables the transmission of antibiotic resistance over long distances through bioaerosols and long persistence in the atmosphere. In addition, airborne microorganisms are a component of PM2.5 particles, a proxy indicator of air pollution, which, as already mentioned, can easily enter the lungs and bloodstream of humans.

Since antimicrobial resistance and air pollution pose serious threat to humans, understanding their interconnection could lead to the development of better guidelines to limit

the spread of antimicrobial resistance and air pollution simultaneously. limited data suggest that air pollution does indeed influence the dissemination of antibiotic resistance in the atmosphere. The limitation of these data mainly to China shows that there is a need to obtain evidence from a broader global area, especially from regions exposed to high and continuous pollution. Considering that Serbia is a country struggling with the excessive antibiotic use and misuse, a high percentage of multidrug-resistant bacterial isolates, and poor air quality, the Serbian capital Belgrade is considered an interesting research model for the effects of air pollution on the abundance and spread of antimicrobial resistance in the air.

The overall objective of our research is to determine the effect of air pollution on the abundance and diversity of pathogens (bacteria and fungi), genes that provide resistance to antibiotics, biocides and metals, as well as on elements that ensure rapid and easy spread of antimicrobial resistance in the air collected at nine locations in Belgrade metropolitan area during four seasons. A broader insight into the impact of air pollution on antibiotic resistance in the air was provided by the selection of nine locations according to the degree of air pollution and urban development, as well as by the application of state-of-the-art air sample analyses.

Article Author and Principal Investigator of the Project: Dr Katarina Novović

Senior Research Associate, Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering, University of Belgrade

Project Acronym: AirPollRes

Project Title: Assessment of seasonal airborne resistome dynamics in response to air pollution exposure in the Belgrade metropolitan area

Program: Program for Excellent Projects of Young Researchers and Young Scientists in the Early Career Phase - PROMIS 2023

Project Budget: EUR 144,753

Science and Research Organizations: • Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering, University of Belgrade


The comprehensive approach of the AirPollRes project will provide the first evidence of the interrelationship of antibiotic resistance and air pollution in Belgrade, which is significantly exposed to these public health threats. Therefore, the project’s goal is to highlight the far more pronounced complexity of these two health problems, raise individual awareness and potentially contribute to solving this problem on a micro level. Furthermore, by addressing the public through various media channels, we want to reach out to the government and private companies to implement additional and more effective action plans and channel funds into innovations that will affect the reduction of air pollution and limit the release of antibiotic-resistant pathogens into the environment from sources such as livestock farms, wastewater treatment plants, landfills and hospitals. Also, it is necessary to solve the problem of antimicrobial drugs that are released into the environment from various sources (medicine production, health facilities, agricultural and livestock production, human and animal excreta), because even a minimal selective concentration of antimicrobial compounds contributes to the development of antibiotic resistance in the environment. In addition to the above, healthcare workers will be advised to limit the consumption of antimicrobial agents to cases where the situation requires it and to pay more attention to the choice of antibiotics they use in therapy. Additionally, the impact that could be achieved by this project indirectly includes an economic aspect, as it is estimated that the annual

shortfall in global gross domestic product due to antibiotic resistance could reach 3.4 billion dollars per year.

Through the aforementioned impact on society, industry, the environment, healthcare and the economy, this project will contribute to the long-term improvement of human and animal health, enabling a longer and better quality of life. Although the whole society is considered as the final beneficiary, vulnerable groups such as children, the elderly, low-income citizens with limited access to healthcare and workers in wastewater treatment plants and farms may benefit more from this project.

As AirPollRes is a pioneering project in this field, the


Dr Danka Matijašević

Research Associate, Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering

Dr Milka Malešević

Research Associate, Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering

Lazar Gardijan

Research Associate, Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering

Stefan Stanovčić

Research Associate, Institute of Molecular Genetics and Genetic Engineering

expected short-term impact is to introduce routine monitoring of airborne pathogenic microorganisms and antibiotic resistance at least initially in highly urbanized locations. The example of the COVID-19 pandemic shows how the initial neglect of the environmental dimension can have consequences for global health. Therefore, there is an urgent need for modern society to take effective initiatives to prevent and combat serious health threats, such as antibiotic resistance and air pollution, taking into account all their dimensions.

NanoCompAs - An innovative approach for water purification Illustration author for the PROMIS project ForNextCobot: Milica Golubović

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