Post-doctoral Researchers

Dr. Edward Walter

edward

Dr. Edward Walter

Dr. Saul Cooper

saul

Dr. Saul Cooper

Dr. Bradley Osborne

Bradley Osborne

Dr. Bradley Osborne

Dr. William Tremlett

William Tremlett

Dr. William Tremlett

Dr. Ryan Brown

Ryan Brown

Dr. Ryan Brown

Dr. Grace McMullon

Grace McMullon

Dr. Grace McMullon

Post-doctoral Researchers

Dr. Edward Walter

Research

“The development of dual-modal probes for cancer imaging”
Apoptosis is the most common form of programmed cell death. As such, it acts as a key mechanism in many pathological diseases. We are working to develop dual-modal lipophilic cations to target the mitochondria, and improve the diagnosis of a number of diseases, including cancer. Additionally we are developing activatable imaging probes for the selective detection of metal ions and disease relevant enzymes.

The project encompasses a wider collaboration between other research groups at Imperial College London, Hong Kong University and Peking University, Beijing.

Personal

I completed my PhD at Durham University in late 2017 under the supervision of Prof. David Parker and Prof. J. A. Gareth Williams. Outside the lab, I enjoy playing and watching sport, especially the 2015/16 Premier League Champions Leicester City FC!

Dr. Saul Cooper

Research

"The Development of a Fluorescent Reporter Probe for Enzyme-Activity of Heme Oxygenase-1 (HO-1)"
Heme oxygenase (HO) is an important homeostatic enzyme in vascular biology and cell signalling. The isoform HO-1 is by far the most studied, playing a significant role in the prevention of disease due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-apoptotic properties.

In collaboration with Dr Joe Boyle (National Heart and Lung Institute, Hammersmith hospital) we are working to develop and synthesise a series of new FRET-based reporter probes for HO-1.

Personal

Beyond chemistry, I spend much of my time cooking, reading and exploring the cultural landscape of our metropolitan home. Come join me.

Dr. Bradley Osborne

Research

“Development of macrocyclic chelates for rare earth metal complexation, and applications in diagnostic and therapeutic nuclear imaging”
Nuclear medicine exploits radioactive isotopes of a wide range of elements for the diagnosis and treatment of disease. A large portion of these are metals. To utilise metal-based radioisotopes, radiometals, in nuclear medicine, a chelator must form thermodynamically and kinetically stable metal complexes. A plethora of chelators exist for small radiometal complexation, but sufficient chelators for large radiometals are much less common. We are working to develop a series of macrocyclic chelators to form thermodynamically and kinetically stable complexes, including the incorporation of bioconjugate groups to successful target a range of diseases.

The project encompasses a wider collaboration between other research groups at Imperial College London, King’s College London, and Southampton University through the MITHRAS programme.

Personal

I complete my PhD at Imperial College London in January 2023 under the supervision of Prof. Nicholas Long and Dr. Richard Southworth. I enjoy cycling, running and playing/watching football. I hope to see my team West Ham United win a trophy one day. I also enjoy hiking and when I want a day to rest, I spend many hours on my gaming PC.

Dr. William Tremlett

Research

“Development of Organometallic-Functionalised Perovskite Solar Cells”

Metal-halide perovskite solar cells have emerged as an innovative photovoltaic technology due to their extraordinary optoelectronic properties, low cost and solution processability. However, their efficiencies and operational lifetimes often lag behind commercial silicon-based solar cells. Organometallic functionalisation of perovskite solar cells has recently been shown to provide excellent, and promising, efficiencies and stability to compete with these commercial devices (Science, 2022, 376, 416).

In collaboration with research groups across Imperial and City University, Hong Kong, we aim to synthesise and evaluate a range of novel organometallic compounds to drive the development and translation of organometallic-based perovskite solar cell devices.

Personal

I graduated from The University of Auckland, New Zealand in March 2023 with a PhD in Chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Christian Hartinger and Prof. James Wright. During my PhD we investigated stimulus-responsive heterobimetallic supramolecular architectures as model systems for anticancer drug delivery. In my spare time I enjoy travelling, exercising, watching rugby and going to live gigs.

 

Dr. Ryan Brown

Research

"Enhancing mimetic efficiency towards increasing photosynthetic efficiency"

Some species of plants have developed CO2 concentrating mechanisms to increase cellular CO2 levels and therefore increase the efficiency of photosynthesis. One such mechanism, based upon the catalytic conversion of bicarbonate salts into CO2 by carbonic anhydrases (CAs), has inspired this research. CA has one of the fastest known enzymatic catalytic activities, with a rate of CO2 hydration of ca. 106 molecules per second per enzyme. Earlier work from our group demonstrated that chemical mimetics formed of zinc(II) coordination compounds are able to capture and release CO2 with the largest rate constant of any small-molecule CA mimic reported (Rains et al, ACS Catal., 2019, 9, 1353).

Building upon this work, we are interested in increasing the bioavailability of the chemical mimetic through ligand modifications towards carrying out in vivo studies. In parallel we are also developing a range of different and novel transition metal coordination compounds as bioavailable chemical mimetics.

Personal

I completed my MChem degree at the University of Sussex with Prof. Geoff Cloke followed by a move to London where I completed my PhD at Imperial College London under the supervision of Prof. Mark Crimmin. I then carried out a short postdoc position with Dr David Pugh at King’s College London. After a short stint in teaching, I came back to the lab.

Outside of the lab I enjoy watching football (Good Ol’ Sussex By The Sea!), travelling, lifting things up and putting them back down, techno, gaming and engaging in hipster coffee culture.

Dr. Grace McMullon

Research

"Ligand development for nanoparticle functionalisation"

I will be working on the development of ligands for functionalisation of nanoparticles to develop new tools for the diagnosis of colorectal cancer. These will utilise multiple modalities to enhance disease diagnosis, enable precision surgery and facilitate cancer surveillance.

The project is on the EPSRC grant “Translational nanoconstructs for targeted tissue accumulation and guided surgery in cancer” and works in collaboration with other research groups at the University of Hull and King’s College London.

Personal

I completed my MSci degree in Natural Sciences at the University of Bath, before moving to the University of Oxford to work for Prof. Stephen Faulkner on the Systems Approaches to Biomedical Sciences CDT. I had a brief stint in industry working on process development chemistry for active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Outside of work, I enjoy drinking tea, cuddling cats, watching tv, eating out at different restaurants and finding inspiration for home renovations.

Third and Final Year PhD Students

Shane Angoh

shane

Shane Angoh

Ben Woolley

benw

Ben Woolley

William Lim Kee Chang

wlkc

William Lim Kee Chang

Katharine Welch

katharine

Katharine Welch

Final Years

Shane Angoh

Research

"Smart Manganese-based Dual-modal PET-MRI Probes"

The combination of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – with its excellent spatial, sub-millimetre resolution – and positron emission tomography (PET) – with its exceptionally high sensitivity – would be able to provide greater clinical functionality through ‘PET-guided’ high resolution MRI. The challenge in creating a bimodal PET/MRI agent comes from the sensitivity difference in these techniques. Manganese based contrast agents (MnBCA) can overcome these issues by mixing nanomolar amounts of radionuclide with 55Mn in complexation, thus creating a chemically identical PET and MRI probe, ensuring identical biodistribution and pharmacokinetic behaviour.

Personal

Big fan of cinema (mainly animation), so chat to me about anything from Studio Ghibli to John Wick. Apart from that, love to travel around London to find the best places to eat - open to any suggestions!

Ben Woolley

Research

"Dual-Modal Probes for Imaging the Brain and Alzheimer’s Disease"

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, affecting over 5 million people worldwide. It causes progressive and irreversible cognitive decline and eventually results in death. Alzheimer’s disease is characterised by three key biomarkers: amyloid-beta plaques, neurofibrillary tangles, and neuroinflammation. Amyloid-beta plaques have been extensively imaged for the past two decades, but recent evidence suggests that it is actually the soluble amyloid-beta oligomers that are the neurotoxic species. The development of a molecular imaging probe that targets these oligomers specifically would allow an earlier diagnosis as well as potential new therapeutics and drugs to fight the disease.

The brain has been imaged over the past two decades using a variety of molecular imaging modalities, including PET, MRI, and optical imaging. PET has been the workhorse for this imaging due to its superior sensitivity and ability to often penetrate the blood-brain-barrier with small-molecule radiotracers. However, the focus is now moving onto MRI probes - which have superior spatial resolution, and optical probes - which are often cheaper and require low-cost detectors and machinery. Only a select few optical imaging probes have been developed for targeting the soluble amyloid-beta oligomers, and these probes could still be improved in terms of their binding ability and emission wavelengths. My work will aim to develop novel dual-modal optical/MRI probes for imaging soluble amyloid-beta oligomers, and more generally multi-modality probes for brain imaging and neuroinflammation.

William Lim Kee Chang

Research

"An acoustic wavelet technology for delivering smart imaging probes to the brain"

Molecular imaging probes have the potential to transform neuroimaging. Whereas CT and conventional MRI provide structural and anatomic information of the brain, molecular probes can identify processes that are specific to a disease and its stage. This could allow doctors to classify the disease earlier and more accurately, and match it with the best therapeutic option (i.e., personalised medicine). Some important unmet needs include locating hidden cancer cells after surgical removal of a glioblastoma tumour; and identifying Alzheimer’s disease early so that the correct treatments can be initiated.

However, molecular imaging probes cannot enter the brain, because of the blood-brain barrier, and thus remain impractical. Thus, at the moment, molecular imaging targets are constrained to intravascular targets, such as receptors on endothelial cells, which are unlikely to be direct indicators of the disease. We would like to widen the scope of molecular imaging probes to all extravascular targets – neurons, microglial cells, and disease processes in the extracellular space (e.g., ABeta plaques in Alzheimer’s disease).

My project focuses on combining acoustic wavelet technology (short, low-pressure ultrasound pulses) that can deliver drugs across the blood-brain barrier with specially synthesised imaging probes to create a platform for imaging specific disease processes using MRI or other imaging modalities.
 

Personal

I graduated with an MSci in Chemistry from Imperial College London in June 2020, having carried out my final year project on the synthesis of a FRET-based reporter probe for the enzyme activity of heme oxygenase-1 under the supervision of Prof. Nick Long. I have also carried out summer research on charge carrier dynamics in lead-halide perovskites using ultrafast laser spectroscopy under the supervision of Dr. Artem Bakulin. My current project involves the synthesis of new MRI/optical imaging probes and their delivery to targets in the brain using a combination of focused ultrasound and microbubbles for blood-brain barrier opening.

 

Katharine Welch

Research

"Development of novel photo-switchable catalysts for highly selective ring-opening polymerization"

Biopolymers synthesised through ring-opening polymerization show great potential as alternatives to commodity polyolefins. Yet, it is often synthetically challenging to control their microstructure and henceforth their material properties. Catalysts that can switch between different states to selectively control the mode of polymerization offer an exciting new pathway to fine control of polymer microstructure. In my project, I aim to design a new range of photo-switchable catalysts for ring-opening polymerization that can be switched in situ between two different initiating states and generate biopolymers with variable microstructure and crystallinity. 

Personal

I graduated with an MChem in chemistry in summer 2021 from the University of Edinburgh. I completed my master’s research project in the group of Dr Jenni Garden working on the synthesis of poly(lactic acid) and poly(caprolactone) block copolymers using a bis-zinc ProPhenol catalyst. In my spare time, I enjoy cooking, practising yoga, exploring new places to eat in London and hiking when I can escape the city. 

Second Year PhD Students

Titan Lai

Titan Lai

Titan Lai

Second years

Titan Lai

Research

“Heme Oxygenase-1 Targeted Probes for Diagnostic, Theranostic and Therapeutic Applications”
Heme oxygenase (HO) is an important homeostatic microsomal enzyme that regulates the concentration of cytotoxic ‘free’ heme. The isoform HO-1 is by far the most studied and its overexpression is associated with a number of diseases including atherosclerosis and cancer. Therefore, this project aims to synthesise a series of FRET-based reporter probes for HO-1 activity and develop anticancer compounds that utilise HO-1 inhibition.

Personal

I graduated from Imperial in 2022 with an MSci in Chemistry. My final year project, which was carried out under the supervision of Prof. Nick Long, aimed at developing novel PDT agents by combining photosensitisers with an HO-1 inhibitor. In my free time I like to travel around the UK. I also “enjoy” riding my Brompton up steep hills and dream of owning an electric bike.

First Year PhD Students

Christina Siakalli

Christina Siakalli

Christina Siakalli

Bihan Liu

Bihan Liu

Bihan Liu

Mrunal Tamhankar

Mrunal Tamhankar

Mrunal Tamhankar

Sean Nwachukwu

Sean Nwachukwu

Sean Nwachukwu

First years

Christina Siakalli

Research

“To separate and bind: chelators for the extraction and stable coordination of radioactive metal ions”
Nuclear medicine entails a wide range of radioactive isotopes, from various elements, for the diagnosis and treatment of disease. In recent years, molecular radiopharmaceuticals that target overexpressed receptors in diseased tissue have improved treatment for neuroendocrine and prostate cancer patients. Such radiopharmaceuticals rely on “theranostic” pairs: a diagnostic molecular imaging agent for PET or SPECT imaging alongside a radiotherapeutic systemic agent. Commonly, therapeutic agents are based on β-emitting radiometals (68Ga, 177Lu) yet, α-emitting radiometals (223Ra, 225Ac, 212Pb, 227Th) are of growing interest for late-stage cancer patients.

Legacy nuclear waste contains large and valuable amounts of numerous, clinically useful radioisotopes. By developing a range of macrocyclic chelators, we intend to selectively recycle nuclear stock to meet clinical demand: selective extraction of the desired α-emitting radiometals and stable incorporation into a biological targeting vector for delivery to diseased tissue.

This project is part of a wider collaboration between Imperial College London and Kings College London meeting the research priorities of smart imaging probes and dual diagnostic imaging/radiotherapeutic pairs of radioactive molecular agents.

Personal

I graduated from Imperial College London in 2023 with an MSci (Hons) Degree in Chemistry. My final year project was under the supervision of Dr. Maxie Roessler, focused on the effect of reactive oxygen species on lipid membranes.

Beyond chemistry, I enjoy skiing, playing tennis, baking, searching for new brunch spots in London and most of all travelling to explore new places.

Bihan Liu

Research

“Theranostic Antibacterial Agents Based on Nanoparticles and Phototoxic Metal Complexes”
To combat the emergence of certain multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria, developing novel antibacterial agents has become a pressing issue. Metal-based therapeutics have been regarded as attractive alternatives to traditional drugs. In this project, we aim to design novel nanoconjugates that include the following features: i) iron oxide nanoparticles as platforms for drug delivery and in vivo monitoring via magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); ii) phototoxic metal complexes based on Ru(II), Re(I), and Pt(II), which are only activated once cleaved from the nanoparticles via enzymatic action and light irradiation; iii) targeting vectors (e.g. peptides) designed to target bacteria selectively.

Personal

I graduated from Imperial College London in 2023 with an MSci degree in Chemistry. My final year project, which was carried out under the supervision of Prof. Oscar Ces, focused on inducing endocytic behaviours among giant unilamellar vesicles (GUVs) via simple protein-membrane interactions.

Beyond chemistry, I enjoy reading, drinking tea, gaming, watching musicals, and watching show-jumping, especially the Longines Global Champions Tour.

Mrunal Tamhankar

Research

“Controlling polymerisation reactions via switchable catalysis”
In recent years, there has been a huge interest in developing polymers that are both bioderived and biodegradable. The ring-opening polymerisation (ROP) of cyclic esters and carbonates has become a popular strategy to achieve this goal. Although promising, fine control over polymer properties is a problem. Through this project, we will aim to develop novel, 'switchable' catalysts which can polymerise different monomers depending on the chemical state of the catalyst, thereby yielding polymers with well-controlled structures.

This project is kindly supported by means of the Wilkinson Trust Scholarship and is co-supervised by Dr Charles Romain.

Personal

I graduated from Imperial College London in 2023 with an MSci in Chemistry. My final year project, which was carried out under the supervision of Prof George Britovsek, focused on developing nickel-based catalysts for the synthesis of acrylic acid from carbon dioxide and ethylene.

In my spare time, I enjoy exploring new places, cooking and most of all, watching and playing tennis.

Sean Nwachukwu

Research

“Enhancing C3 Photosynthesis with Water Soluble Biomimetics”
My project involves developing and testing novel water-soluble carbonic anhydrase mimics that could improve the efficiency of photosynthesis, thus improving crop yield and combating world hunger without necessitating additional farming space. The project is co-supervised by Dr Laura Barter and Dr Rudiger Woscholski and is co-funded by Syngenta.

Personal

My name is Sean Nwachukwu and I am a PhD student in the Chemical Biology & Bioentrepreneurship CDT.  I’m from Hertfordshire and my family are originally from Nigeria (Igbo tribe). Previously I did an Integrated master’s degree in ‘Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry’ at the University of St Andrews.

In my spare time, I look for literally any excuse to socialise, I like to travel, watch Formula 1 (Ferrari fan) and football (Chelsea fan), and write poems and screenplays for films and TV shows. 

MSci Students

Hongxuan Chen

Hongxuan Chen

Hongxuan Chen

Rie Rønnow

Rie Rønnow

Rie Rønnow

First years

Hongxuan Chen

Research

“Dual-Modal Click Conjugates for Brain Imaging”

Rie Rønnow

Research

“Dual Targeted Therapy: Multimodal Heme Oxygenase-1 Inhibitor and Photosensitizer Conjugate Drug”