Imperial College London

DrMarcoDi Antonio

Faculty of Natural SciencesDepartment of Chemistry

BBSRC Fellow



+44 (0)20 7594 5866m.di-antonio




207LMolecular Sciences Research HubWhite City Campus







My research interests lie at the interface between organic chemistry and cell biology. I leverage on my organic chemistry background to rationally design and develop small-molecule probes to interfere with endogenous cellular process, with particular interest to DNA targeting. My main research focus is on ageing biology, I use chemical and molecular biology tools to investigate how DNA packaging and chromatin dynamics are affected by healthy ageing, with the aim to underpin fundamental epigenetic changes that are associated with ageing and could trigger ageing-related disorders. 


Following a M.Sc. degree in Organic Chemistry from University of Pavia in 2007, Marco undertook a Ph.D in Molecular Sciences at Padua University under the supervision of Prof. Manlio Palumbo and Prof. Mauro Freccero. During his Ph.D, Marco gained an extensive experience on the synthesis of small molecule ligands with DNA cross-linking activity under physiological conditions. Following his Ph.D. Marco moved to Cambridge in 2011 to work with Prof. Shankar Balasubramanian as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate, working on targeting DNA secondary structures such as G-quadruplexes. During his post-doctoral work, Marco has contributed to demonstrate the existence of G-quadruplex DNA and RNA structures in human cells and to their mapping on a genome wide-scale. In 2015, Marco was promoted to Senior Research Associate and kept working in the Balasubramanian group, establishing novel live-cell imaging platforms to investigate DNA G-quadruplex formation in real-time within live cells and investigating the potential of G-quadruplex targeting small-molecules as cancer therapeutics. His research training in Cambridge has enabled him to develop a comprehensive research vision that embraces synthetic organic chemistry, biophysics, molecular and cell biology and genomics 

Marco was awarded a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship in December 2017 to join Imperial College Chemistry and start his own research group.



Funded PhD studentships will be advertised when available.

Marco is always keen to hear from enthusiastic and bright students with a strong interest in his research programme. If you are interested to join my team send Marco an email with your CV and a Cover Letter.


To all Italy-based researchers seeking a postdoctoral appointment abroad, there is an interesting call for 3 years funded postdoctoral position funded by AIRE, more information here. If you are interested in joining my team and to apply for this scheme, please do get in touch sending along a Cover Letter and your CV. I am always enthusiastic to support outstanding early career scientists.


Marco is eager to hear from outstanding researchers keen to apply for externally funded fellowships. If you would like to apply for postdoctoral fellowships and you are looking for a group to support you, please do get in touch with Marco sending a short Cover Letter and your CV. 


Hänsel-Hertsch R, Di Antonio M and Balasubramanian S. 2017, "DNA G-quadrupleex in the human genome: detection, functions and therapeutic potentia." Nat. Rev. Mol. Cell Biol. (18), 279. 

(DOI: 10.1038/nrm.2017.3)

Xu X, Di Antonio M et al. 2017, "CX-5461 is a DNA G-quadruplex stabilizer with selective lethality in BRCA1/2 deficient tumours" Nat. Commun. (8) 14432. 

(DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14432)

Hänsel-Hertsch R,  Beraldi D,  Lensing SV,  Marsico G, Zyner K, Parry A, Di Antonio M, Pike J, Kimura H, Narita M, Tannahill D, Balasubramanian S, 2016 " G-quadruplex structures mark human regulatory chromatin" Nat. Genet. (48), 1267. 

(DOI: 10.1038/ng.3662)

Chambers VS, Marsico G, Boutell JM, Di Antonio M, Smith GP, Balasubramanian S, 2015 "High-throughput sequencing of DNA G-quadruplex structures in the human genome" Nat. Biotech. (33), 877. 

(DOI: 10.1038/nbt.3295)

Di Antonio M, McLuckie KIE, Balasubramanian S, 2014 "Reprogramming the Mechanism of Action of Chlorambucil by Coupling to a G-Quadruplex Ligand" J. Am. Chemistry. Soc. (136) 5860.

(DOI: 10.1021/ja5014344)



Weber J, Bollepalli L, Belenguer AM, et al., 2019, An activatable cancer-targeted hydrogen peroxide probe for photoacoustic and fluorescence imaging., Cancer Res

Zyner KG, Mulhearn DS, Adhikari S, et al., 2019, Genetic interactions of G-quadruplexes in humans., Elife, Vol:8

Di Antonio M, Minard A, Liano D, et al., 2019, The unexplored potential of quinone methides in chemical biology, Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry, Vol:27, ISSN:0968-0896, Pages:2298-2305

Sengar A, Vandana JJ, Chambers VS, et al., 2019, Structure of a (3+1) hybrid G-quadruplex in the PARP1 promoter., Nucleic Acids Res, Vol:47, Pages:1564-1572

Mao S-Q, Ghanbarian AT, Spiegel J, et al., 2018, DNA G-quadruplex structures mold the DNA methylome., Nat Struct Mol Biol, Vol:25, Pages:951-957

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