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Chemistry Approaches to Assembling New Imaging and Sensing Metalloprobes

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  • Full or part time
    Prof Sofia Pascu
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Supervisory team:
Professor Sofia Pascu, Department of Chemistry
Dr Charareh Pourzand, Department of Pharmacy & Pharmacology

Fluorescent gallium-based contrast agents for targeted delivery and diagnosis of cancer will be designed and synthesised. We will be using a systems chemistry approach to assembling new imaging and sensing metalloprobes for prostate cancer biomarkers. The context of this synthetic chemistry focussed research is that the detection of cancer for diagnosis and treatment using positron emission tomography (PET) has grown over the past thirty years from the relatively simple metabolism-based 18F radiotracer, 2-fluoro-2-deoxy-glucose. The goal is to create multimodality site-specific radiotracers, using biomolecules such as peptides, fragments of proteins such as affibodies or antibodies. To achieve this, we will use novel chelators, designed in-house to recognise and complex gallium ions in water under kinetic control, as well as other complementary metals such as indium and copper and develop the robust inorganic chemistry background as the synthetic chemistry platform for radiotracer development. The use of fluorescence imaging would also be investigated in non-radioactive, cold model complexes, due to the intrinsic nature of the novel metal-chelators. A series of biological effects will be investigated, including but not limited to hypoxia and angiogenesis.

The ‘cold’ chemistry synthetic work will be carried out at Bath and the ‘hot’ radiochemistry work will be in collaboration with the Royal United Hospital. The biological work will be carried out in collaboration with the Pharmacy and Pharmacology Department at Bath. Training will be available in facilities which a bioimaging suite with state-of-the-art confocal microscopes capable of handling imaging experiments under normoxia as well as hypoxia. The combination of synthetic chemistry and biological testing in living cells will be crucial to the success of the work. The project will lead to multidisciplinary training in synthetic organic and inorganic chemistry, supramolecular and chemical biology with techniques such as metal co-ordination chemistry (air-sensitive and Schenk line method), peptide synthesis and culminating with radiometal labelling and testing.

Informal enquiries should be directed to Prof Sofia Pascu ([Email Address Removed]).

Formal applications should be made via the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Chemistry:

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found here:

Anticipated start date: 1 October 2018

NB: This project may be removed if a successful student is found.

Funding Notes

UK and EU students applying for this project may be considered for a University Research Studentship which will cover Home/EU tuition fees, a training support fee of £1,000 per annum and a tax-free maintenance allowance at the RCUK Doctoral Stipend rate (£14,553 in 2017-18) for a period of 3.5 years.

Note: ONLY UK and EU applicants are eligible for this studentship; unfortunately, applicants who are classed as Overseas for fee paying purposes are NOT eligible for funding.

Self-funded applicants are welcome to apply, please contact Prof Sofia Pascu beforehand.


Cortezon-Tamarit, F., Sarpaki, S., Calatayud, D. G., Mirabello, V. and Pascu, S. I., 2016. Applications of “Hot” and “Cold” Bis(thiosemicarbazonato) Metal Complexes in Multimodal Imaging. Chemical Record, 16 (3), pp. 1380-1397.

Alam, I. S., Arrowsmith, R. L., Cortezon-tamarit, F., Twyman, F., Kociok-köhn, G., Botchway, S. W., Dilworth, J. R., Carroll, L., Aboagye, E. O. and Pascu, S. I., 2016. Microwave gallium-68 radiochemistry for kinetically stable bis(thiosemicarbazone) complexes: structural investigations and cellular uptake under hypoxia. Dalton Transactions, 45 (1), pp. 144-155.

How good is research at University of Bath in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 33.10

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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