Professor Angela Casini

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Dr. Andreia de Almeida

Born in Portugal, Andreia did both her BSc and MSc in Biochemistry at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, after which she moved to The Netherlands where she completed her PhD cum laude at the University of Groningen in 2016, under the supervision of Prof. Groothuis and Prof. Casini. Afterwards, she moved to the UK and started in May 2016 as a Post-doctoral researcher at Cardiff University.

Her research focuses on the investigation of aquaporin function and inhibition, as well as biological evaluation of inorganic complexes as anticancer agents.

Andreia is an avid salsa dancer and has many hobbies, which go from painting to sewing her own clothes and also terrorizing her colleagues.

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Dr. Margot Wenzel

Originally from Dijon, France, Margot did her BSc in Biochemistry and MSc in Chemistry, both with honours, at the University of Burgundy. In 2013 she was awarded her PhD degree with honours, again from University of Burgundy and then moved to the UK for a Post-Doc in the group of Prof. Ian Fairlamb at the University of York. After another Post-Doc in the group of Dr. Wilton-Ely at Imperial College, London, Margot moved to Cardiff where she started as a Post-doctoral researcher in November 2015.

Her research interests focus on the synthesis and biological evaluation of gold-based complexes for anticancer applications.

Margot loves chocolate and rules and is very sporty & creative: plays tennis and volleyball in the evenings and enjoys sewing during winter.

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Dr. Samuel Meier

Sam was born and studied in Switzerland, where he did BSc in Chemistry at EPF Lausanne, during which he did SOCRATES student exchange at the University of Edinburgh. Afterwards, Sam did an MSc in Chemistry at ETH Zurich, respectively. He then moved to Vienna, Austria, where he completed his PhD studies in 2013 and was awarded the Doc.Award 2013 for outstanding doctoral thesis. After being appointed as Senior Scientist at the University of Vienna for 3 years, in the group of Prof. Gerner, Sam started working at Cardiff University in October 2016.

His research interests are diverse and span from synthesis and characterization of metal-based complexes to mass-spectrometry-based techniques to elucidate their modes of action.

When he has some spare time, Sam enjoys playing piano and badminton.

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PhD Students

Benjamin Woods

Originally from Sandbach, Ben did a BSc and MChem in Chemistry at the University of Bradford. He started his PhD at Cardiff University in April 2016 in supramolecular metallocages and their potential as drug delivery systems.

Considers himself the sane baseline of the group.

Brech Aikman

Born in Alphen aan de Rijn, The Netherlands, but grew up in Amersfoort. She then moved to Groningen where she completed her BSc and MSc in Pharmacy at the University of Groningen. Brech started her PhD in October 2016 at Cardiff University. The project involves targeting aquaporin function with gold compounds and studying the role of aquaporins and glycerol permeation in melanoma.

She likes to play hockey and travel the world to find beautiful places and new types of foods.

Darren Wragg

(shared project with Dr. Stefano Leoni from Cardiff University, UK)

Originally from Sheffield, Darren obtained a BSc (Hons) in Molecular Science from The Open University followed by an MSc in Drug Chemistry from Newcastle University. Darren started his PhD in April 2016 at Cardiff University in a shared project between Prof. Casini and Dr. Leoni. He is studying the use of in silico techniques to elucidate the mechanism of aquaporin transmembrane protein permeation by small molecules, leading to the design of selective inhibitors and the development of effective targeted cancer treatments.

He enjoys cycling, both listening to and playing music (as long as there aren’t too many stings), chocolate, travel, extoling the virtues of Yorkshire and also considers Ben as the sane baseline of the group

Andreia Mósca

(shared project with Prof. Graça Soveral from University of Lisbon, Portugal)

Born and raised in Portugal, Andreia obtained a BSc in Biochemistry and a MSc in Structural and Functional Biochemistry from Faculty of Sciences and Technology (FCT NOVA), Campus of Caparica, Portugal. She started her PhD in February 2014 at the University of Lisbon, under the co-orientation of Prof. Soveral and Prof. Casini. The project aims at identifying the mechanisms of human aquaporin regulation and gating and also screening of selective metal-based modulators for drug development.

Jacinta Pinho

(shared project with Prof. Graça Soveral from University of Lisbon, Portugal)

Jacinta was born and raised in Portugal, and she obtained a BSc in Genetics and a MSc in Biotechnology from the University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD), Vila Real, Portugal. In 2016, she started her PhD under the supervision of Dr. Manuela Gaspar (University of Lisbon, Portugal), and co-supervision of Prof. Graça Soveral (University of Lisbon, Portugal) and Prof. Angela Casini (Cardiff University). The project involves the study of aquaporins as anticancer agents and the use of a nanotechnological delivery system.

She enjoys walking, reading and, when in need to relax, she plays the piano or listens to music.

Jiaying Han

(shared project with Dr. Peter Horvatovich from Groningen University, The Netherlands)

Jiaying was born in Henan province, China, and did her BSc at Southwest University, Chongqing, China. She studied Applied Chemistry and during her studies she participated in the field practice of Chongqing Ziguang chemical Limited by Share Ltd. She then did her MSc in Analitical Chemistry at Beijing Normal University. She is currently doing her PhD at the University of Groningen, in a shared project between Prof. Casini, Prof. Bischoff, Dr. Permentier and Prof. Groothuis. She is studying of the bioconjugation of Pd-based metallocages to tag peptides and investigating their biomedical applications.

She enjoys jogging on Saturday and Sunday morning and often takes her small camera to snap some photos of the natural scenery.

Natalia Estrada

(shared project with Prof. Alexander Domling from Groningen University, The Netherlands)

Natalia is originally from Medellín, Colombia, where she did her BSc (Biological Engineering) and MSc (Biotechnology) at Universidad Nacional de Colombia. She started her PhD in 2013 at Groningen University, in a shared project between the Drug Design and the Pharmacokinetics, Toxicology and Targeting groups, under the supervision of Prof. Casini, Prof. Dömling and Prof. Groothuis. She works on the discovery of drugs targeting p53-Mdm2/4 interaction and Metal complexes as potential anticancer agents. On her projects she uses a variety of techniques, that encompas in vitro and ex vivo techniques.

She is a very funny person, even though you have to be very lucky to catch a glimpse of a smile from her. She is usually seen wearing black, her favorite color.

Özden Karaca

(shared project with Prof. Fritz Kühn from Technical University of Munich, Germany)

Born in Munich (Germany), Özden visited the Technische Universität München (TUM, Technical University of Munich) to study chemistry. In 2015, she obtained the graduate degree, M.Sc., with inorganic chemistry as her main subject. Currently, she is a shared PhD of Prof. Fritz E. Kühn from TUM and Prof. Angela Casini from Cardiff University. Within the scope of discovering potential anticancer agents, her work is based on the synthesis and characterization of new transition metal complexes, especially gold(I), bearing N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs) as ligands.

Besides being outdoors, enjoying smooth get-togethers and listening to (jazz) music, she’s addicted to traveling all over the world.

Sarah Spreckelmeyer

(shared project with Prof. Chris Orvig from University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)

Sarah was born in the small city Osnabrück, in the northern part of Germany. For her Pharmacy degree (equivalent to MSc), she moved to Braunschweig, Germany, where she worked under the supervision of Prof. Ingo Ott to write her Diploma thesis. During that time, she also worked with Prof. Gilles Gasser (Zurich, Switzerland) and did an internship at Bayer Health Care in Berlin, Germany. In 2014, she started her Joint PhD program with Prof. Angela Casini and Prof. Chris Orvig at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. She works on the evaluation of the mechanism s of action of new metallodrugs compared to cisplatin (uptake / efflux transporter mechanisms) as well as the synthesis of new radiopharmaceuticals for either imaging or therapy purposes.

An appropriate quote from a professor about Sarah is: “She is smart but not weird.” This saying, she likes to be outdoors (hiking, biking, skiing) and to meet new and especially old friends all over the world.

Master Students

Alice Mintoff

Alice Mintoff


Sergio Paiva

Sergio Paiva


Sophie Thomas

Sophie Thomas


Abigail Price

Abigail Price

BSc Chemistry

Former Members

Sophie Jürgens

Sophie Jürgens

PhD student

Former PhD student. Graduated January 2017

Ruyu Jia

Ruyu Jia


BSc student from an exchange program. Project in first semestre 2016/2017.