Raniero Rocchi (1932-2024), In memoriam

Raniero Rocchi (1932-2024)

Prof Raniero Rocchi (91) passed away on his home in Padova on 3rd January  2024. Until 2008 he was Full Professor of Organic Chemistry at the Institute of Organic Chemistry of the University of Padova.

Rocchi was a pioneer of the peptide research in Italy, joining at the end of sixes to the peptide chemistry group of Prof Ernesto Scoffone, that was involved in the chemical synthesis of analogues of peptide S of RNAse A: the 20-amino acids N-terminal fragment released from the protein after digestion with subtlisin. The aim was the study of the structural requirements of peptide S that allows the non-covalent association of peptide S with the rest of protein and the full recovery of the enzymatic activity. After one year spent at the Department of Molecular Biophysics of the Yale University, in the group of Prof. F. M. Richards, in 1970 Rocchi took the Chair of Applied Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the Institute of Pharmaceutical and Toxicological Chemistry of the University of Ferrara and five years later he moved as Full Professor to the University of Padova. His research interest was in peptide and protein chemistry, in particular on the synthesis of peptides, protein modification reaction, and conformational studies on polypeptides and proteins. In Padova his research focused on the study of the effect of the covalent attachment of carbohydrate derivatives on the pharmacological properties and conformational features of biologically active peptides (opioids, kinins and antimicrobial peptides). His research team synthesized a number of glycopeptides in solution and it was one of the first groups to use the solid-phase procedure for the synthesis of these compounds. Conformational investigations were also carried out on synthetic glycosylated threonine and asparagine homo-oligopeptides and on homo-polymers prepared by ring-opening polymerization of the sugar substituted α-amino acid N-carboxyanhydrides. Finally, Prof Rocchi turned to the synthesis and characterization of peptide-peptoid hybrids of selected opioid and antimicrobial peptides and tested the effect of the afforded modification on their biological properties.

For many years he was the Italian representative in the European Peptide Society and in the years 1998-2002 he was elected Chairman of the European Peptide Society.

Prof Rocchi was an excellent communicator and much loved by students for his clarity of presentation. He was an open, competent and scrupulous scientist and for all of us a unique human and professional reference.

Contributed by Marina Gobbo