Martina Piasek

Analytical Toxicology and Mineral Metabolism Unit

PhD; MD / Permanent Scientific Advisor / Principal Investigator; mentor

Place and date of birth

Zagreb, Croatia


  • 1990, University of Zagreb, PhD degree (medical sciences – area medicine);
  • 1986, University of Zagreb, MSc degree (area biology – biomedicine);
  • 1982-1986, University of Zagreb, Postgraduate Study of Natural Sciences;
  • 1974-1980, University of Zagreb Medical School, MD degree;
  • 1970-1974, High School education, 5th Gymnasium “Bogdan Ogrizović“ Zagreb and Gymnasium Varaždin

Work Experience

  • 1980-1982, Medical Centre Varaždin: completed an internship and passed the certification exam, general practitioner in a general health care unit for workers in the construction industry;
  • Since September 1982, Institute for Medical Research and Occupational Health in Zagreb (IMROH): began engagement an assistant – postgraduate student and continuous scientific research; in 2006 earned highest scientific and job title of permanent scientific advisor and become a principal investigator in research projects; during 2006, duty of active head of the former Unit for the Physiology of Mineral Metabolism, IMROH

Fields of interest

  • mineral metabolism: essential and toxic elements: assessment of exposure and effects of metals and metalloids in humans (using experimental models and epidemiological studies) focused on vulnerable population groups – women during reproductive period and perinatally exposed offspring; methods for reducing toxic element body burden and chelation therapy;
  • toxicity of metals and metalloids: basic principles of general and occupational toxicology, toxicity and endocrine disruption of reproductive function under condition of environmental exposure;
  • history of medicine and health care

Conducting of and participation in research projects and programmes

International research programmes:

  • 1991-1994, research programmes during granted annual fellowships for postdoctoral research and training in the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC (M. Piasek, PI): ‘Experimental Techniques and Methods for Studying the Reproductive and Developmental Toxicology of Environmental Agents’ – IREX fellowship, Princeton, NJ (1991-1992) and ‘Cadmium, Iron Deficiency and Female Reproduction in Rats’ – Fogarty International Center fellowship, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD (1993-1994)

International research projects:

  • 1990-1995, ‘Chelation Therapy of Important Toxic Metals’ (B. Kargačin, M. Blanuša, PIs), IAEA project;
  • 1984-1985, ‘Delayed Effect of Lead on Kidney Function and Structure: Experimental Part’ (K. Kostial, PI), US EPA project;
  • 1983-1988, ’Significance of Hair Mineral Analysis as a Means for Assessing Body Burdens of Environmental Mineral Pollutants: Influence of Age’ (K. Kostial, PI), IAEA project;
  • 1983-1984, ‘Evaluation of the Effect of Lead on Reproduction: Animal Study to Evaluate the Effect of Lead on Reproduction Following Male and Female Exposure to Lead’ (K. Kostial, PI), CEC project

National research projects

  • (Grants of the Croatian Ministry of Science, and Technology, MST and, after 2004, of the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, MSES):
  • 2007-2013, ‘Exposure to metals and their effects in pregnancy and postnatal period’ (M. Piasek, PI), MSES project No. 022-0222148-2135; 2003-2006, research theme on placenta and metal exposure within ‘Biomedical Research on Reproduction and Development’ (D. Ježek, University of Zagreb Medical School, PI; M. Piasek, group leader), MSES collaborative research project;
  • 2002-2006, ‘Exposure, Intake and Effects of Toxic and Essential Elements’ (M. Blanuša, PI; M. Piasek, PI who took over in 2006), MSES project No. 0022012;
  • 1996-2001, ‘Metals: Exposure, Effects and Antidotes’(M. Blanuša, PI), MST project No. 00220102;
  • 1991-1996, ‘Metals in the Environment and their Health Impact’ (M. Blanuša, PI), MST project No. 1-03-138;
  • 1982-1990, ‘Impact of Selected Chemical, Physical and Psycho-Sociological Environmental Factors in Man’ (K. Kostial, PI), MST (SIZZ RH) project

Additional training

  • 1991-1994, postdoctoral research and training in reproductive toxicology in USA, in the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC during two annual international fellowships, International Research & Exchanges Bord (IREX), Princeton, NJ and Fogarty International Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD


  • In 2009 and 2005, yearly IMROH award for scientific and professional achievements;
  • In 2011 and 2001, Scholarship Award for MEDICHEM international congress;
  • In 2003, mentor of the best PhD Thesis (by V. M. Varnai) defended at the University of Zagreb Medical School in Acad. Yr. 2001/2002 area Biomedicine and Health Care – Basic Medical Sciences;
  • Since 2003, honorary member of the Russian Association on Trace Elements in Medicine – RUSTEM;
  • Since 2000, scientific and professional data recorded Marquis’ editions Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, Who’s Who in Science and Engineering;
  • 1980, Diploma of the University of Zagreb Medical School and Association of Citizens for Medical Sciences Development in Zagreb

Select Publications

  1. Piasek M, Jurasović J, Sekovanić A, Brajenović N, Brčić Karačonji I, Mikolić A, Sulimanec Grgec A, Stasenko S. Placental cadmium as an additional noninvasive bioindicator of active maternal tobacco smoking. J Toxicol Environ Health Part A 2016; 79: 443-6.
  2. Grzunov Letinić J, Matek Sarić M, Piasek M, Jurasović J, Varnai VM, Sulimanec Grgec A, Orct T. Use of human milk in the assessment of toxic metal exposure and essential element status in breastfeeding women and their infants in coastal Croatia. J Trace Elem Med Biol 2016; 38: 117-25.
  3. Mikolić A, Piasek M, Sulimanec Grgec A, Varnai VM, Stasenko S, Kralik Oguić S. Oral cadmium exposure during rat pregnancy: assessment of transplacental micronutrient transport and steroidogenesis at term. J Appl Toxicol 2015; 35: 508-19.
  4. Piasek M, Mikolić A, Sekovanić A, Sulimanec Grgec A, Jurasović J. Cadmium in placenta – a valuable biomarker of exposure during pregnancy in biomedical research. J Toxicol Environ Health Part A 2014; 77: 1071-74.
  5. Blanuša M, Orct T, Vihnanek Lazarus M, Sekovanić A, Piasek M. Mercury disposition in suckling rats: Comparative assessment following parenteral exposure to thiomersal and mercuric chloride. J Biomed Biotechnol 2012;
  6. Piasek M, Henson MC, Blanuša M, Kostial K. Assessment of steroid disruption and metal concentrations in human placenta: effects of cigarette smoking. U: Koskinen CJ, ur. Handbook on Smoking and Health, Public Health in the 21st Century Series, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc. 2011, str. 325-65.
  7. Stasenko S, Bradford EM, Piasek M, Henson MC, Jurasović J, Kušec V. Metals in human placenta: Focus on the effects of cadmium on steroid hormones and leptin. J Appl Toxicol 2010; 30: 242-53.
  8. Henson MC, Piasek M, Chedrese PJ, Castracane VD. Metal toxicity in mammalian reproduction. U: Eldridge JC, Stevens JT, ur. Endocrine Toxicology – Third Edition, Target Organ Toxicology Series, Vol. 27. New York: Informa Healthcare Publishers 2010, str. 256-79.
  9. Varnai VM, Blanuša M, Piasek M, Kostial K. New therapeutic and experimental aspects of chelators as antidotes of metal toxicity. U: Atta-ur-Rahman, Reitz AB, ur. Frontiers in Medicinal Chemistry, eBook Series, Vol. 4. Karachi, Pakistan: Bentham Science Publishers Ltd. 2009, str. 130-82.
  10. Piasek M, Henson MC, Blanuša M, Kostial K. Assessment of steroid disruption and metal concentrations in human placenta: effects of cigarette smoking. U: Fong CB, ur. Smoking and Health Research Frontiers. Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc. 2007, str. 119-61.
  11. Chedrese PJ, Piasek M, Henson MC. Cadmium as an endocrine disruptor in the reproductive system. Immunol Endocrine Metabolic Agents Med Chem 2006; 1: 27-35
  12. Blanuša M, Varnai VM, Piasek M, Kostial K. Chelators as antidotes of metal toxicity: therapeutic and experimental aspects. Curr Med Chem 2005; 12: 2413-46.
  13. Šarić Marija, Piasek M, Blanuša M, Kostial K, Ilich ZJ. Sodium and calcium intake and bone mass in rats revisited. Nutrition 2005; 21: 609-14.
  14. Piasek M, Blanuša M, Kostial K, Laskey JW. Low iron diet and parenteral cadmium exposure in pregnant rats: the effects on trace elements and fetal viability. Biometals 2004; 17: 1-14.
  15. Piasek M, Laskey JW, Kostial K, Blanuša M. Assessment of steroid disruption using cultures of whole ovary and/or placenta in rat and in human placental tissue. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 2002; 75 (Suppl): S36-44.
  16. Piasek M, Blanuša M, Kostial K, Laskey JW. Placental cadmium and progesterone concentrations in cigarette smokers. Reprod Toxicol 2001; 15: 673-81.
  17. Varnai VM, Piasek M, Blanuša M, Matek Sarić M, Kostial K. Calcium suplementation of lead in suckling rats. Pharmacol Toxicol 2001; 89: 326-30.
  18. Piasek M, Laskey JW. Effects of in vitro cadmium exposure on ovarian steroidogenesis in rats. J Appl Toxicol 1999; 19: 211-7.
  19. Kostial K, Blanuša M, Piasek M, Restek-Samaržija N, Jones MM, Singh PK. Combined chelation therapy in reducing tissue lead concentrations in suckling rats. J Appl Toxicol 1999; 19: 143-7.
  20. Piasek M, Kostial K, Laskey JW. Experimental studies on reproductive and perinatal effects of lead and cadmium. Environ Manag Health 1996; 7: 29-32.
  21. Piasek M, Schönwald N, Blanuša M, Kostial K, Laskey JW. Biomarkers of heavy metal reproductive effects and interaction with essential elements in experimental studies on female rats. Arh Hig Rada Toksikol 1996; 47: 245-59.
  22. Singh PK, Jones MM, Kostial K, Blanuša M, Piasek M. In vivo cadmium mobilization by three novel bis(carbodithioates). Chem Res Toxicol 1996; 9: 313-7.
  23. Piasek M, Laskey JW. Acute cadmium exposure and ovarian steroidogenesis in cycling and pregnant rats. Reprod Toxicol 1994; 8: 495-507.
  24. Kostial K, Kargačin B, Blanuša M, Piasek M, Jones MM, Singh PK. Monoisoamyl meso-2,3-dimercaptosuccinate as a delayed treatment for mercury removal in rats. Environ Health Perspect 1994; 102(Suppl 3): 309-11.
  25. Piasek M, Kostial K. Reversibility of the effects of lead on reproductive performance in female rats. Reprod Toxicol 1991; 5: 45-51.
  26. Kostial K, Blanuša M, Kargačin B, Piasek M, Maljković T, Kello D. Sex-related differences in genetic susceptibility to toxic metals. U: Grandjean P, ur. Ecogenetics: Genetic Predisposition to the Toxic Effects of Chemicals. Copenhagen, Denmark: WHO Regional Office for Europe, London: Chapman & Hall 1991, str. 111-22.
  27. Piasek M, Kostial K. Effect of exposure to lead on reproduction in male rats. Bull Environ Contam Toxicol 1987; 39: 448-52.


  • ICOH
  • Croatian Society of Toxicology
  • Croatian Physiological Society
  • Croatian Society for Laboratory Animal Science
  • Croatian Medical Association
  • RUSTEM (honorary member)


Other research activities:

  • Since 1991, in the journal Arh Hig Rada Toksikol (Archives of Industrial Hygiene and Toxicology), active member of the Executive Editorial Board and Scientific Advisory Board (since 2013) and a reviewer, Deputy Editor-in-Chief (1995-2002), and the guest editor of a thematic part (2/2012); ad hoc reviewer of international scientific journals in the field (Reprod Toxicol, Environ Res, Toxicology, Arch Medical Res, J Appl Toxicol, J Toxicol Environ Health Part A etc.); evaluator of national and international research projects; member of scientific committees of international and national conferences (TEMA 7, MEDICHEM 2011, 7th PBN, 11th ISTERH, CROTOX 2012, CROTOX 2016 etc.); mber of numerous committees of IMROH Scientific Council; active member of IMROH Ethics Committee;
  • Since 2006, officially appointed by the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Sports as the expert member in HR delegations at the Programme Committees for the EU Framework Programmes, FP 6 specific Programme 1: Integrating and Strengthening the ERA, configuration priority 5-Food Quality and Safety and specific Programme Cooperation, theme 2-Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology of FP7; an active independent expert in the evaluation process of he EU FP7 research projects within activity area Cooperation, theme 6 ‘Environment (including Climate Change)’ by appointments (in 2007, 2011, 2012, and 2013, including duties of independent expert evaluation panel rapporteur and a review panel representative at concluding meeting with COM representative in Apr 2013, Brussels, BE) and registered independent expert evaluator with a valid status for Horizon 2020

Teaching Activities as an outer collaborator of the University of Zagreb:

  • Since 2010/11, module/curriculum leader at the Faculty of Food Technology and Biotechnology – selected curricula in Nutrition ‘Interaction of Essential and Toxic Elements’ (Graduate Study) and ‘Essentiality and Toxicity of Mineral Elements in Human Diet’ (Doctoral Study);
  • Since 2002/03, participating lecturer at Medical School in Zagreb: Postgraduate Study of Medical Sciences, ‘Reproduction and Workplace’ and Postgraduate specialist study of Occupational Medicine and Sports, curriculum ‘Occupational diseases, toxicology and pathology of work’, theme ‘Introduction to occupational toxicology’;
  • In 2003 lecturer at courses of continuing medical education for family physicians as educators ‘School of Non-smoking’;
  • In the period 1995/96-2005/06 at Postgraduate Study of Natural Sciences – field Biology: Study of Physiology and Immunobiology, leader of curriculum ‘Physiology of Mineral Metabolism’; Study of Toxicology, lecturer in curriculum ‘Toxic effects of Metals and Metalloids’;
  • Since 1990, mentor of >15 Graduation, MSc and PhD Theses during procedures conducted and the theses defended at the University of Zagreb,

List of publications