Welcome to the website of the Szymanski Lab

This website is dedicated to the activities of a group of researchers who work in the Dutch city of Groningen on the development of photopharmacology and medical imaging, under the supervision of Prof. Wiktor Szymanski.


Youxin wins the 2023 Backer Prize for the best organic chemistry PhD thesis in NL

April 2024

Following Michael (2018) and Jana (2022), Youxin made us very proud by winning the Backer-KNCV prize, awarded annually for the best PhD thesis in the field of organic chemistry in The Netherlands! The award was accompanied by Youxin’s lecture during the 2024 KNCV Dutch Symposium on Organic Chemistry.


March 2024

Our lab put forward a great team for the volleyball tournament in the University Hospital. With 5 games won, they did pretty well! And of course, extra points for the name…

Visible light photoclick reaction throuhg a TTET process

March 2024

Not showing any signs of slowing down in his successful research, Youxin took the PQ-ERA photoclick reactions through yet another frontier, enabling its execution with green and orange light through a triplet-triplet energy transfer process, using as little as 5 mol% of photosensitizer! Read more here.

Rosa wins a poster prize at 2024 EMIM

15 March 2024

Rosa made us all very proud by winning a poster prize at the 2024 EMIM conference, putting our young research group into a much welcome spotlight. We celebrated this achievement with roasted chestnuts on top of the Ponte Luis I.

EMIM 2024, Porto, Portugal

12-15 March 2024

Melody, Rosa and Wiktor visited the 2024 edition of the European Molecular Imaging Meeting in Porto. We have presented posters, met old and new friends, and enjoyed the perfect organisation typical of EMIM. Looking forward to next year edition!

Controlling the toxicity of natural nanopores with visible light

February 2024

What a project this was for Jana! Hours spent pipetting in the dark room with just faint red light to guide you is what you get when you enable efficient photocontrol over the cytotoxicity of FraC nanopores. Still… worth it! Read more in Jana’s most recent paper. (Picture by Jana Volaric)

Farewel to Dawidd

January 2024

Dawid Janasik came to work in our lab wile doing his PhD in Gliwice Poland. He brought with him a very kind personality, lots of chemistry knowledge and a fascinating project. It was an honour for our young group to host him and help him in his research! Dawid, we wish you all the best in your future career and you are always welcome to visit us again.

Our story in Pharmaceutisch Weekblad

January 2024

In the last issue of Pharmaceutisch Weekblad, the weekly journal of The Royal Dutch Pharmacists Association, an education dossier features a story on our ideas and teaching of photopharmacology. Albert and Wiktor were interviewed for this issue. Thanks to Linda de Jonge for the interview and to Geert Job Sevink for the very bright picture that he made of us!

Controlling beta-hairpin aggregate morphology with light

January 2024

Jana and Raffaella joined forces to create a new photoswitchable amino acid, which has good photochemical properties and can be used to precisely regulate the geometry of a polypeptide. With the new AMPO molecule, they are able to control the morphology of amyloid like aggregates, as revealed by solid state NMR measurements. Read more here. (Picture by Jana Volaric)

UMCG Innovation Prize for a team working on image-guided pharmacotherapy 

January 2024

A team of scientists, led by Pieter van der Zaag and including Wiktor, was awarded the UMCG innovation prize of 50k Eur to develop precise and automated protocols in image-guided pharmacotherapy. The team will explore the programming of local drug activation using the input from optical imaging.

PPG uncaging efficiency: contact ion pair matters

January 2024

Having recently cracked the code for making faster PPGs, Albert kept asking the key question: what is the fate of the contact ion pair (CIP) that we can now efficiently produce and stabilize in the PPG uncaging mechanism? As it turns out, depending on the way the CIP stabilizes itself, this process can have a very strong influence on overall efficiency and it can be highly dependent on the environment (or not at all!). Read more on this discovery in our new paper here.

Farewell to Francesca

December 2023

Working in academia has its bright sides: you meet people from all over the World, and sometimes those meetings develop into common projects, and friendships. Our young lab, which has just started to establish itself in the GRIP institute, was extremely lucky to have one of our friends, Francesca Cardano, coming over to work with us for a few months. Taking time from developing her own research line in Italy, Francesca brought to us her experience, knowledge, and kindness. It was only two months… but we will miss you so much! Thank you for all the coffee breaks, snowball fights, bowling games and smiles. Come back to us soon!

Can increasing PPG quantum yield and red-shifting its spectrum go hand in hand?

December 2023

Albert and Lianne teamed up to answer this question, combining our new strategy on boosting the uncaging quantum yield by delocalising the PPG cation with the strategy from Marton Bojtar and Peter Kele on extending the conjugation to red-shift the PPG spectrum. The project yielded what we hoped for – and also what we did not expect: the new PPG is actually a photoswitch that shows different uncaging efficiency from its two isomers. Read more here!

Photopharmacology 4 Conference

27-29 November 2023, Hong Kong

Jana and Wiktor went to Hong Kong to participate in the fourth instalment of the Photopharmacology conference series. It makes us so proud to see that the small symposium that we organized in 2017 has grown into this amazing three day conference! Jana gave a talk, and Wiktor chaired sessions and moderated a panel discussion on clinical translation. Furthermore, Sherri McFarland (g) and Wiktor (bg) reactivated the progressive sludge metal band “The Dangling Modifier” after a Covid hiatus. A very special thanks to dr. Weiping Wang, who put the bar for the next year organizers insanely high!

10th International Symposium on Photochromism

7-10 November 2023, Nara, Japan

Melody and Wiktor gave talks at the 10th International Symposium on Photochromism in Nara. Visiting Japan for the first time was an amazing experience, nicely matched with seeing our old friends from the photoswitch world. Thanks to the organizers for inviting us and providing the best conference lunches ever!

ERC Synergy 2023 grant for the GRAIL team!

October 2023

Getting an ERC Synergy grant: great! Getting it on an exciting project where the use of light brings a key solution to an interesting problem: even better! Getting in with three wonderful friends: priceless :) We cannot wait to start looking at structures of proteins in a completely new way with our collaborators from the Universities of Groningen and Hamburg. Read more here!

Detecting the activity of sulfatase enzyme with MR and CEST imaging

October 2023

Oh what a proejct this was for Ilse... six years in the making, elusive synthesis, exploding machines and learning completely new skills and tricks that our NMR machines can do! But the result is something to be proud of – the first ligand that responds to the sulfatase enzyme and can be used for the imaging of its activity by MRI (if used to complexate gadolinium) or CEST imaging (if used to complexate ytterbium). The persistence that this one required is most impressive… Read more here!

Wiktor gives a lecture at the CLiC Conference, Oestrich-Winkel, Germany

4-6 October 2023

Wiktor delivered the opening lecture at the conference organized by the Complex Light Control (CLiC) research consortium from Goethe University in Frankfurt. It was a great opportunity to meet the community with whom we somehow were not in touch before and the invitation to the beautiful small town at the shores of the Rhine river was most appreciated!

Pier gives a talk at BioDrug conference, Riga, Latvia

18-19 September 2023

Once a photopharmacologist – always a photopharmacologist! Pier, even after having left our lab with a well deserved PhD diploma, still popularizes our work and ideas. This time, he gave a talk on light-controlled drugs at the 2023 BioDrug conference “Recent advances in structural biology and drug discovery”.

Workweek 2023 / Molecular Nanotour Symposium, Mainz, Germany

12-15 September 2023

The team took part in the yearly workweek of the Feringa/Szymanski groups. Melody gave a talk about the new developments in the world of fast photoswitches, and everyone else presented posters. And Ilse celebrated her last conference the same as she did the first – by winning a poster prize!

Lianne and Julia receive their MSc diplomas

7 September 2023

In a very nice ceremony in the senate room of our University, Lianne and Julia received their MSc diplomas, supported by their family and friends. Both did their projects in our laboratories and are dearly missed already. Congratulations for completing your university studies!

Photoclicking byond the red

September 2023

Having boosted the efficiency of the photoclick reaction to some crazy limits (see here and here), Youxin decided that some of this efficiency can be traded off for the beauty of activation with near-IR light. Having secured the help of prof. Hong Zhang and his team, we were able to realize this using the fantastic upconversion nanoparticles from Amsterdam – read more in our new paper. Congratulations Youxin!

A new chapter begins for MCPI and SzymanskiLab

September 2023

Our move to the Groningen Research Institute of Pharmacy became a reality! Our group became the core of a new department of Medicinal Chemistry, Photopharmacology and Imaging. We have moved to our new campus, the offices have been chosen, the fume-hoods have been claimed, and three new students begin our scientific adventure with us. A warm welcome to Desanka, Jeroen and Lars! And big thanks to Ilse who celebrated our move (... away from her) with a fantastic cake.

Understanding the magic behind azonium photoswitches

August 2023

Azonium photoswitch, discovered by our friend and collaborator Prof. Andrew Woolley, have all the makings of a perfect tool for photopharmacology: absorbance in the Red/NIR range, high absorptivity, and useful half-lives. But… how do they actually work? Find out in our new collaborative paper with theoreticians (thanks Miro and Adele!), spectroscopists (shout out to Mariangela and Wybren Jan) and Andrew, the very discoverer of azouniums! See also a popular writeup here.

IUPAC / CHAINS 2023, The Hague

20-25 August 2023

The team represented our lab proudly at the joint CHAINS / IUPAC congress in The Hague. Raffaella gave a very well received talk on her PhD project in the main conference room. Ilse, Melody, Ilayda, Annemarie, David and Quentin showed posters. Thanks to everyone who visited their presentations and asked questions!

Wiktor interviewed by the "Ever Curious" podcast

August 2022

Wiktor was interviewed for the „Ever Curious” podcast, created by a small team of medicine and pharmacy students, who enjoy intellectual conversations and hope to inspire others by spreading news about science and medicine. This is a fantastic initiative, especially for the students who were deprived of the contacts and chats with lecturers during the Covid times. Thank you for the invitation!

Barbie. The movie.

19 July 2023

The part of the team that is not afraid of wearing pink (and living pink!) went to see Barbie – the movie. We cannot stop ourselves from showing you this fabulous picture!

KWF Research and Implementation grant for Wiktor and Bart

July 2023

Together with dr. Bart Cornelissen, we have received at 700k Eur grant from the KWF Dutch Cancer Society to design new drugs activated with high energy radiation. Watch this space for a post-doc position announcement soon. For now, time to celebrate!

Wiktor delivers the Fermi Colloquium at LENS in Florence

23 June 2023

Invited by the one and only dr. Mariangela Di Donato, our wonderful collaborator of many years, Wiktor went to Florence to talk about our work during the Enrico Fermi Colloquium at the European Laboratory for Non-Linear Spectroscopy. Many thanks to everyone who made this trip so amazing and thank you for the specially delivered bottles of Chinotto!

When reaction time matters... even more

June 2023

Not fully satisfied with his previous effort in accelerating the photoclick reactions, Youxin pulled a thiophene magic trick to invert the energy levels of the triplet states of different natures, arriving at a PQ-ERA photoclick reaction with superb photoreaction quantum yield (up to 98%), high second order rate constants (up to 1974 M-1 s-1), and notable oxygen tolerance. Read more in our new paper, chosen as the "pick of the week" in Chemical Science!

Stratingh Day and RondjeLab 2023

19 June 2023

As we are slowly preparing to move out of the Stratingh Institute in autumn, it was still a great experience to take part in the yearly institute event, during which Ilse and Rosa presented posters. At the end of the day, the traditional relay run of RondjeLab was held, and our lab took part as the characters from Toy Story movies. Let’s say that the moral victory was ours, and leave it at that...

Group Picnic

17 June 2023

Taking advantage of the weather that has been treating us very kindly in the last weeks, Ilse and Annemarie decided to celebrate their birthdays with a picnic in our local park. Thanks for this great idea and a fantastic afternoon!

Every reason for a cake is a good reason

30 May 2023

Ilse was generous enough to offer that she will bring a cake every time her review is cited 5 times. Respecting her academic independence, Wiktor decided to go with it (with a big smile). Soon afterwards, deeply concerned about our calorie intake, we changed to every 10. Then every 25. Today we celebrated the 100th citation (yup, those strawberries spell out “100”). At this point, we agree to have a cake every 50 citations. Global chemistry community, you know what to do.

Photopharmacology IV is happening in 2023!

Mark your calendars: the Fourth International Symposium on Photopharmacology will happen on 27-29 November in Hong Kong. It is amazing to see that the conference that our group started in Groningen in 2017 is going around the world, having visited Spain and New York in previous year. Best of luck to the organizers, especially Prof. Weiping Wang. Cannot wait to see you all there!

Wiktor visits Hamburg for the MOMA network meeting

21-23 May 2023

Wiktor visited the Hamburg Advanced Research Centre for Bioorganic Chemistry (HARBOR) to see the amazing imaging facilities and discuss the ongoing and new collaborations. Many thanks to Arwen Pearson for being a wonderful host and making this a very productive stay!

SzymanskiLab is moving to Groningen Research Institute of Pharmacy

Exciting times ahead! Our group has found a new home, and in the second half of 2023 we will be moving to our own laboratories at the Groningen Research Institute of Pharmacy, which is apart of the Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Groningen. We are looking forward to becoming the nucleus of the new Department of Medicinal Chemistry, Photopharmacology and Imaging and embedding our research in the broad context of pharmacology, with countless possible collaborations and projects.

Group dinner and farewell to Julia

25 April 2023

The Lab went out to our local sushi mall to (happily) enjoy some good food, great company and (sadly) say goodbye to Julia who performed our second master research project in the last 3 months. Julia, we appreciated your enthusiasm for science and ability to quickly pick up the techniques and expertise of our lab and we will miss you very much. All the best in your future work!

KOLFF Institute days 2023

16-18 April 2023

Ilse, Melody, Annemarie, Rosa and Wiktor joined the annual event of the Kolff Institute, on the beautiful Dutch island of Schiermonnikoog. Annemarie was one of the organizers (and did a fantastic job), Ilse gave a great talk about her work, and Melody and Rosa showed posters – and Rosa won the second poster prize!

Efteling visit

14 April 2023

Some of our lab members, who are not afraid of speed and distance, went on a magic trip to the Efteling amusement park. As we have discovered in the past, nothing builds a team better than a near-death experience.

Rational design in photopharmacology

April 2023

In photopharmacology, we often have the feeling that the more we think about intelligently designing our light controlled molecules, the less they work. It is time to change this, and hopefully the new review article from Pier will serve as in inspiration. It collects, compares, and evaluates strategies taken in rational design of photoswitchable bioactive molecules.

Jana lectures at the 2023 KNCV National Symposium in Lunteren

31 March 2023

Jana made us immensely proud by winning the Backer Prize, which she just accepted with a great lecture at the yearly symposium of KNCV Organic Chemistry Division in Lunteren, The Netherlands.

Introducing photopharmacology to Dutch doctors

March 2023

In our new paper, published in the Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, Ilse outlines the different ways in which light is used in the clinic, and introduces the concept of light-controlled drugs to the community of Dutch medicine specialists. Interested and able to read Dutch? Check it out!

Jana wins the 2022 Backer Prize for the best PhD thesis

March 2023

This just in: Jana is the proud recipient of the 2022 KNCV-Backer Prize, awarded annually to the best PhD thesis in the field of organic chemistry that was defended in the Netherlands. May this picture taken just after the promotion serve as a proof of how proud of her we are. Congratulations dr. Volaric!

When reaction time matters

February 2023

In our new paper, Youxin shows how the PQ-ERA photoclick reaction, which already is breaking all the usual speed limits, can be made even faster (>5000 times!) through molecular engineering, reaching quantum yields exceeding 60%. And with this new reactivity, we can use two different sets of substrates for orthogonal reactivity under irradiation!

Promotion of Niels / lecture of Wiktor at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

8 December 2022

Congratulations for the successful PhD defense to dr. Niels Hauwert from Amsterdam! And many thanks to the supervisors, Prof. Rob Leurs, Prof. Iwan de Esch and dr. Maikel Wijtmans for their kind invitation for Wiktor to give a lecture and take part in the opposition. It is great to se Amsterdam taking its place on the map of Photopharmacology and the work of Niels has been instrumental in this. And hey, leaving the aula as a new doctor to the sounds of Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper” – how cool is this!

Farewell to George

November 2022

George is leaving our lab to find new scientific challenges in the sunny California. While we cannot really blame him, it must be noted that this leaves a larger-than-life hole in our group. George has been involved in countless project as a synthetic chemist extraordinaire and DFT-wizard. His choice of Dutch cuisine treats as tissue phantoms is a stuff of legend. His ability to walk by moving both left hand and left leg forward, follow by right side, is almost impossible to copy. Luckily some people managed, and we said farewell to George with a nice movie about his conflict with Zeus and adventures in Amsterdam!

Farewell to Paula, Lianne and Simon

November 2022

Last year, we were lucky to get three fantastic students coming to our laboratory for their master project. Paula tackled the challenges of designing MRI contrast agents, Lianne managed to bathochromically shift a few efficient PPGs and Simon opened the synthetic access to valuable Zincke salts for our lab. Many thanks for their hard work and shoutout to their amazing supervisors: Ilse, Albert and George!

Wiktor gives a talk at the University of Geneva, Switzerland

24 November 2022

Wiktor presented ideas behind photopharmacology during a seminar at the University of Geneva. Many thanks to Prof. Winssinger and his group for being excellent hosts and to all the faculty for a very warm welcome.

INSERM workshop on photopharmacology, Bordeaux, France

21-23 November 2022

Wiktor delivered an opening talk at the fantastic INSERM workshop on photopharmacology, organized by Alexandre Mourot and Cyril Gaudet. It was great to see so many good friends form the field coming together! Let’s keep the spirit alive until the next International Symposium on Photopharmacology in November next year.

New visible-light-responsive azobenzenes for chemical biology

October 2022

In our new paper, Jana presents a new family of water-soluble, visible-light-controlled tetra-ortho-fluoro-azobenzenes. You can click them to azides, you can attach them to amines, you can dissolve them in water at worrying concentrations. And some dangerous bacteria find them yummy!

Farewell to Michał

October 2022

Michał “Wujek” Falkowski is leaving us after a year filled with scientific discoveries, fruitful collaborations, endless salsa parties and general establishment of the Wujek idea, which we never knew we needed but will find it very difficult to live without. Michał, we wish you all the best for the future and we hope to see you in Groningen again one day!

Chains 2022 conference

21-22 September 2022

As ever year, we were very well represented at the annual Dutch chemistry conference CHAINS. George gave a highly entertaining talk, and Melody, Ilse, Annemarie, Raffaella, Michal and Albert showed posters. A big shout out to our alumnus dr. Mark Hoorens who organized the huge poster session in his new role of a NWO coordinator!

Pier Interviewed by UKRANT

September 2022

Even after leaving the group and starting his new position in industry, Pier keeps making us famous and immensely proud! An interesting interview with him was just published in our university newspaper. Read about the challenges and successes behind his work here!

Welcome dinner with new group members

14 September 2022

It is always a happy occasion when new people join our lab, and we celebrate it with good food and drinks. A warm welcome to Annemarie, Rosa and Ilayda, who will spend the next four years in our group working on medical imaging and photopharmacology.

Michal joins EFMC-ISMC 2022

4-8 September 2022

Michal joined the XXVll EFMC International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry organized by the Société de Chimie Thérapeutique (SCT), on behalf of the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology (EFMC). Michal presented a poster about Bodipy conjugates and their antimicrobial properties. Nice treated Michal very well with the weather and delicious food!

New cross linkers for biological applications

September 2022

Photoswitchable cross-linkers are light-responsive molecules that changes the distance between the residues it spans, affecting the structure and function of the labeled biomacromolecular target. In our new paper, published in the sepcial issue celebrating 5 years of the ChemPhotoChem journal, Jana shows how to enhance the photochemical properties of these useful molecules. And yes, they contain sulfonate groups, which is great for end users and... not so great for the people who must synthesize them.

2022 EuChemS Congress, Lisbon, Portugal

28 August - 01 September 2022

Our lab has joined the 2022 EuChemS Congress in Lisbon. George and Wiktor gave talks on photopharmacology. Ilse, Melody and Albert presented posters, showing our work to a very broad chemistry audience, and Albert received the poster prize making us all immensly proud. Lisbon treated us very well with the weather, the food and the ocean! If only our flights did not get cancelled...

Best course in the bachelor program of Biomedical Engineering

July 2022

The 1st year course “Molecules of life” has been chosen by the students of Biomedical Engineering, University of Groningen, as the best course of their bachelor program, giving us the unique opportunity to shoot this ridiculously smug picture. The course was designed by Clemens (left), is coordinated by Michael (middle), and Wiktor does a bit of teaching in it.

Old dogs, new tricks, fast PPGs

July 2022

In recent years, the development of photocleavable protecting groups has observed fantastic advances in shifting the activation wavelengths to the red/NIR range of the spectrum. Unfortunately, this often happened at the cost of the uncaging quantum yield. In our new paper, Albert and George tackle this problem by taking some first-year-chemistry ideas (carbocation stabilisation) and applying them to the key reaction step in the uncaging process. This simple idea works for coumarin and BODIPy photocages, allowing us to increase their uncaging efficiencies by an order of magnitude.

Hella Mega Tour, Groningen

22 June 2022

Chemistry is all nice, but sometimes one needs also to have fun outside of the lab. A nice representation of our group (Jana, Paula, Lianne, Albert, Quentin and Wiktor) went to our local park to see the Weezer (nice!), Fall Out Boy (time to get some fries) and Green Day (shameless fun with a big smile). It was great to be out of lockdown and partying again!

2022 PANIC Summer School (Wroclaw, Poland)

30 May - 3 June 2022

Wiktor was honoured to accept the invitation to lecture at the 2022 PANIC summer school for PhD students in nanophotonics. Congratulations to Patryk Falat and the whole organisation team, and many thanks to Prof. Kasia Matczyszyn for being a wonderful host! Educational initiatives like this are a fantastic opportunity to learn, both for participants and lecturers.

Prix Galien 2022 Gala

16 May 2022

Ilse, Melody, Michal and Wiktor have attended the 2022 Prix Galien Awards. It was a great honor to be nominated for this prestigious prize and we enjoyed ourselves immensely in the beautiful location of the Stadsgehoorzaal in Leiden. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees of the 2022 awards, and especially to Dr. Frances de Man (winner) and Dr. Myriam Chalabi (nominee) of the Research prize!

Wiktor explains Photopharmacology in 90 seconds

May 2022

PubQuiz at De Toeter

11 May 2022

After a three-year break caused by Covid, we are back to pubquizing, and in good numbers! Many thanks to the whole team for celebrating Wiktor's birthday this way, and a special congratulations to the "Lekker Man" team (George, Berjan, Simon and Pier) for almost making it to the podium!

Arylazopyrazoles work wonders in kinase photopharmacology

May 2022

In our new paper, Dusan and Albert show how the arylazopyrazole switches can be used in photopharmacology to design photoswitchable kinase inhibitors. The unique properties of those heteroaromatic azo switches translate fantastically to the nice difference in the potency between the two isomers, allowing us to control the activity of the casein kinase 1delta, an enzyme important for the control of cell differentiation, circadian rhythm, DNA repair, apoptosis, and numerous other signalling processes.

Dr. Kobauri got an offer he could not refuse

3 May 2022

Our dear friend and talented PhD student Piermichele Kobauri, after a fantastic PhD defence, was offered a doctorate that he could not refuse :) Amazing specialist in molecular docking (known henceforth as the Dockfather), Italian cuisine (just don’t ask him what marinara sauce is) and Lindy Hop dancing, he made our lives so much more colourful in the last years. We will miss you Piero, your computational approach to photopharmacology was special and we learned a lot working with you!

Wiktor lectures at IBEC, Barcelona

27 April 2022

Wiktor gave an invited talk to the master students at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia, highlighting different ways in which light is used in medicine. Also, three amazing students from Barcelona, Patricia, Pilar, and Mar, have introduced our work to their colleagues, with Wiktor listening in awe and amazement at the detailed insights they provided. And hey, how cool is it that the Barcelona Science Park is just two minutes’ walk from Camp Nou?

Wiktor nominated for the 2022 Prix Galien Research Award

April 2022

Wiktor in one of the three chosen nominees for the annual Dutch Prix Galien Research Award, sharing this honor with two fantastic researchers from The Netherlands. Keep fingers crossed during the awarding ceremony on May 16th! More information (in Dutch) can be found in the Prix Galien magazine.

Jana is a doctor! And we are not sorry.

19 April 2022

Oh, what a day it was! Jana “I’m sorry” Volaric wonderfully defended her thesis making us all immensely proud. Dr. Volaric, you were the amazing spirit in the group, and we owe a lot to your organizing skills! We will miss you dearly, but we will for sure see each other at Ghost concerts, and other occasions, in the future.

Wageningen International Symposium on Organic Chemistry

7-8 April 2022

George gave a lecture at the International Symposium on Organic Chemistry in Wageningen, organized by the Organic Chemistry division of the Royal Dutch Chemical Society. While speaking directly after the lecture of Prof. Phil Baran might have been a bit intimidating, he bravely gave a nice overview of our first NIR-active PPG design!

SzymanskiLab is hiring!

March 2022

We have an open call for a PhD position. We are looking for someone with a strong background in synthetic chemistry and photochemistry to work on the next generation optoacoustic imaging tracers, within an international consortium funded by the European Innovation Council. More information, and the link for application, can be found here.

17th European Molecular Imaging Meeting, Thessaloniki (Greece)

15-18 March 2022

Ilse and Wiktor visited the beautiful city of Thessaloniki for the 2022 EMIM conference. We both presented posters, and Wiktor acted as a category chair for the Imaging of Infection and Inflammation. It was fantastic to travel to a live conference after two-year break, and what better place to go than the sunny (yet still quite cold) Greece!

Structure-based design in photopharmacology

February 2022

When designing photopharmacological agents, we often just guess where to introduce a photoswitch into a known bioactive compound. This should be possible to be done in a more informed way, right? In our recent paper Piermichele used and critically evaluated multiple approaches in the structure-based design of photoswitchable DHFR inhibitors, including docking and molecular dynamics. Read more here!

PET pretargeting with bispecific antibodies

February 2022

Antibodies are the most selective and sensitive targeting agents for imaging tracers. However, their less-than-perfect pharmacokinetics renders them not fit to be used with the high-signal, high-resolution radionuclides for PET imaging, such as 18F. In our recent paper, Hugo shows how this problem can be circumvented by using pretargeting approaches, in which the bispecific antibody is first injected and allowed to accumulate at the lesion (24-48 h) after which the small fluorescein-based PET tracer is injected that specifically binds to the antibody.

Near Infrared uncaging of bioactive compounds with a Dutch Touch

February 2022

Have you always wanted to release a bioactive compound with light inside a specialty of a Dutch cuisine? Wait no further! With the new PPGs introduced by George, you can use the NIR light of 746 nm to reach deep into our typical raw herring (Hollandse nieuwe) and raw pork belly (speklap). A real Dutch Touch, as one of our great Reviewers put it…

Mafalda’s PhD Promotion

15 December 2021

Our great friend and collaborator Mafalda Bispo defended her PhD thesis today! Working in the Medical Microbiology department, she joined our lab for some time to synthesize PDT agents and then teamed up with Friederike to kick-start the optical imaging research line in SzymanskiLab. Mafalda, thank you for your amazing contribution to our lab! The only thing cooler than being featured in your work was being featured in your movie poster as Tokyo from „Money Heist”!


7-8 December 2021

Our lab joined the yearly CHAINS conference, the main yearly chemistry meeting of The Netherlands. Ilse gave a great a talk about her work and bravely survived zoom meeting problems, and Jana, Albert and George presented posters. It is a pity we could not meet in person again, hope full the 2022 edition will bring us all together again!

KNAW Seminar on the effect of Covid on research

December 2021

The Dutch Royal Academy of sciences has organized a seminar on the impact of Covid on academics, based on the very informative report created from questionnaires filled in by around 6000 researchers. Wiktor took part in the seminar as a panellist and speaker. You can find the seminar here (with Wiktor’s part around 59 min). Initiatives like this are very important as they allow us to share our experiences and shape the decision-making in the future. Many thanks to KNAW, De Jonge Akademie, and the authors of the report, which can also be found here.

3rd International Symposium on Photopharmacology

29-30 November 2021

Our lab took part in the long-awaited 3rd International Symposium on Photopharmacology. Many thanks to Profs. Dirk Trauner and Drew Woolley for continuing the tradition we started in Groningen and organising an amazing meeting, with >400 subscriptions. Nadja and Pier have shown posters that were chosen for poster pitches, and Wiktor gave a lecture and hosted one of the sessions. It was amazing to see how the field has developed, with many groups around the world joining the club, and we are looking forward to the next instalments (hopefully in person…).

2021 Chemische Binding Symposium

19 November 2021

Wiktor gave a lecture on the annual symposium of the Groningen study association Chemische Binding. The topic of the symposium was “Chemistry of success – in and out of control” and it was amazing to hear everyone share their stories on the meaning of success and failure in the work of a scientist. For Wiktor it was also a great chance to share his love for the writings of the late Kurt Vonnegut (and their relevance to the shape of the success/failure stories).

Pier receives a special mention for his talk at AMYC Biomed

November 2021

Pier gave a very well received talk at the 2nd Autumn Meeting for Young Chemists in Biomedical Sciences, introducing the audience to the rational drug design in photopharmacology. His talk got recognized with a special mention from the Jury. Congratulations Pier for bringing an award from every conference you go to recently!

Wiktor gives a talk on the 33rd SEOHS symposium

29 October 2021

Wiktor delivered the opening lecture for the 33rd Symposium Experimental Research Surgical Specialties, introducing the ideas behind photopharmacology to the experimental surgeons of the future. Many thanks to the organising committee, it was an honour to speak in the magnificent 3D planetarium that doubles as the World’s largest Christmas ball in winter!

Wiktor joins HTRIC as a co-leader of the Precision Medicine theme

October 2021

Wiktor joins the newly formed HTRIC (Health Technology Research and Innovation Cluster) operating in the north of The Netherlands. This important (and long overdue) initiative aims at combining healthcare, research, education, and entrepreneurship, focussing on the entire innovation chain in heath technology. This runs from articulation of a question or issue from society and clinical practice, through ground-breaking scientific innovations, to first-in-human application. A very fitting place for applied photopharmacology! You can also red the interview with Wiktor on HTRIC here.

World Molecular Imaging Congress 2021

5-8 October 2021

Ilse and Wiktor presented their posters at the 2021 WMIC, which was held in a fully virtual fashion. Pity for not being able to travel to Miami for this very nice conference, but the 2022 live edition is promising to be a great success!

A new T-type photoswitch featuring green light responsiveness and negative photochromism

October 2021

What happens when you take an ITI photoswitch that is really uncomfortable in one of its isomers, and you make it REALLY uncomfortable in the other isomer as well? It turns out you get a very fast switch which responds to green light and shows a negative photochromism! Meet PIO (Phenylimino Indolinone) – a result of a computational design that became a real molecule in the lab and fulfilled all the hopes and predictions we put into it. Great shout out to Stefano and Nadja who were running this impressive effort! And yes, its a PIOnguin in case you were wondering.

Farewell to Nadja

September 2021

After three years of working in our group, Nadja leaves to set up her own group in Göttingen. She started as a post-doc on a few projects and grew to be the key playmaker involved in anything that we threw at her, which was a lot. Nadja, your input to the group cannot be overstated. We thank you for your amazing skills, brilliant ideas and help you provided to so many people. We became great friends in the process and luckily the world of chemistry is small – so see you soon! And all the best in Göttingen!

PhD promotion of Dr. Yongjin Xu, University of Gothenburg

17 September 2021

Wiktor acted as an opponent at the PhD promotion of Dr. Yongjin Xu, whose work was supervised by our great friends, Profs. Morten Grøtli and Joakim Andréasson. It was a great honour to be there and travel the world again. Thank you for the invitation and congratulations to the new doctor!

Pier wins a poster prize at EFMC Young Medicinal Chemists's Symposium

9-10 September 2021

He is unstoppable! Second award within a week for Pier at the at the EFMC-YMCS for the poster flash presentation.

Photopharmacology III is happening!


Fantastic news today from Dirk Trauner and Drew Woolley! The 3rd edition of the photopharmacology conference, which originated in Groningen and was followed by a meeting in Barcelona, will be held online on 29-30 November. Please see the speakers and register here.

Pier wins a poster prize from EFMC International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry!

September 2021

Pier won the poster prize at the EFMC, sponsored by ChemMedChem, ChemBioChem and ChemEurope. Congratulations!!

EFMC International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry

August 2021

Piermichele and Wiktor visited (virtually…) the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry. Pier presented a poster and Wiktor gave a talk. While we were sad to not be able to meet everyone in Basel, it was still a great opportunity to talk about photopharmacology and its design aspects.

Conference of the Italian Society of Photobiology

June 2021

Dusan and Wiktor gave presentations about our work on photopharmacology during the XXXII Annual Conference of the Italian Society of Photobiology. Many thanks to the organizers for the invitation!

Photo-click reaction delivers 18F-PET tracers in <60 s reaction time

June 2021

A fantastic collaboration within the TracerLab, involving Youxin, Hugo and Nadja, established a photoclick-reaction based photo-flow reactor-based protocol for the labelling of targeting groups with PET-tracer-bearing prosthetic groups. We show that it works for PSMA-targeting ligands and for vancomycin for infection imaging. The power of light, synthetic chemistry and molecular medical imaging all in one, also marking the 100th paper for Wiktor. Happy times!

Our paper on circadian rhythm highlighted in C&EN

June 2021

Dusan’s work has been highlighted in the last edition of Chemical & Engineering News. Congratulations!

Photopharmacology write-up in C2W

June 2021

In the June issue of C2W, a journal of the Royal Dutch Chemical Society, there is a great story on photopharmacology in The Netherlands and Belgium, with a nice interview with Wiktor. Many thanks to Marysa van den Berg for this amazing work!

Reversible Modulation of Circadian Time with Chronophotopharmacology

May 2021

Dusan's latest paper is the culmination of four years of hard work, together with our collaborators in Nagoya, Japan. After many almost-successful designs, we finally hit on a reversibly controlled, visible light-responsive inhibitor of casein kinase I, an enzyme of key importance in the circadian rhythm in our cells. With this molecule, we can use chronophotopharmacology to change the clock (period) used by our cells, and even give them a jetlag by shifting their phase! For a popular science write-up, see here. Picture credit: Issey Takahashi.

Nadja gives a talk at Dutch Photochemistry Days

May 2021

Nadja discussed our work on optimizing the existing and developing new photoswitches during the 2021 Dutch Photochemistry Days, a two-day online symposium organized by the Universities of Amsterdam and Leiden.

Sulfonamides are great cisoid isosteres for photopharmacology

March 2021

In our latest paper, Pier describes the discovery of biarylsulfonamide scaffold as a promising scaffold for photopharmacology. This moiety, found in many bioactive compounds, often adopts a cisoid conformation, reminiscent of the cis-azobenzene. We hypothesized substitution of sulfonamide with azobenzene will thus lead to cis-on / trans-off compounds, which is preferred in photopharma designs. See the paper for our evaluation of this idea (spoiler: it works).

Farewell to Dusan

February 2021

After 5 years of work in our lab, Dr. Thesis Dusan Kolaski Kolarski (seriously, everyone got it wrong all the time) is leaving Groningen, making the unthinkable a sad reality. Who will scare us by jumping out of boxes now? Who will be the Viking who encourages us to run faster, jump higher, make more push-ups? Who will be the fifth Beatles (“Yesterday…”)? Dusan, we wish you all the best in your post-doc and hope that a bit less stressful times lie ahead...

Low reductive stability of certain heteroazoarenes limits their application in photopharmacology

February 2021

In our new paper, Dusan explores the application of 6-azopurines for light-controlled inhibition of kinases in the context of circadian rhythm regulation. The bad news is that these otherwise promising molecules are very quickly reduced to hydrazines. The good news is that some of those hydrazines are very potent in modulating circadian period! Many thanks to our collaborators in Japan (Tsuyoshi Hirota and Ken Itami) and Germany (Christian Peifer and Theo Rodat) for this highly informative work.

Red/green light switching of a protonated ITI

February 2021

In another exciting study within our collaborative synthesis/spectroscopy/calculations network, we have discovered that the protonation of the ITI molecular photoswitch shifts its absorption to the orange/red part of the spectrum and allows for manipulation of the thermal half-life of the photogenerated E-isomer over three orders of magnitude. Read more here!

Ilse’s paper chosen as UMCG open access of the week

February 2021

Ilse’s perspective on light-responsive molecular tools has been chosen to be the UMCG open access paper of the week. Congratulations!

Wiktor joins the editorial board of the EJNMMI Radiopharmacy and Chemistry

January 2021

Starting in March 2021, Wiktor will serve as an editorial board member for the European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging – Radiopharmacy and Chemistry Journal from the Springer publishing house.

Structural Basis for Photopharmacology

January 2021

Together with our collaborators in Structural Biology and Biocatalysis groups at the University of Groningen, we are excited to present what we believe to be the first case of X-ray crystallography structures of both isomers of a photopharmacological agent in its target. Congratulations to Valentina and many thanks to all involved, it was a truly collaborative effort! You can read all about it here

Wiktor joins the early-stage advisory board of ChemPhotoChem

December 2020

Starting in 2021, Wiktor will serve as an early-stage board member for the Wiley journal ChemPhotoChem. Looking forward to the interesting collaboration and hoping to be able to contribute to the development of a great journal for all (photo)chemists!

Farewell to Carlijn

December 2020

Today we bid farewell to Carlijn, who did her 4-month internship with us. In such a short time, she launched two key project and in one of them went all the way from synthesizing molecules to testing them on human specimens! Carlijn, your input into our research was tremendous and your friendly personality will be missed. Good luck for the future, the world of science eagerly awaits people like you.

Nadja wins 2nd FSE post-doc prize

December 2020

Nadja is a runner-up for the annual FSE Postdoc Prize at the University of Groningen, which recognizes outstanding young researchers who are showing an exceptional promise for the future. Congratulations for the well-deserved recognition!


8-9 December 2020

The annual Dutch chemistry conference CHAINS was held in a virtual way this year. From our lab, posters were presented by Ilse, Pier, Jana, Elmar, Keimpe and Nadja.

Celebrating collaborations in science

October 2020

Especially in those social distancing times, friends in science play a very important role. With our new blog entry for Nature Research Community, we celebrate the amazing network of researchers involved in DASA and ITI story, from the synthesis, through spectroscopy, all the way to theoretical calculations. Enjoy reading!

Perspective on light-controlled tools for medicine

October 2020

In our new perspective Ilse is asking the key questions about photocages and photoswitches: what properties do we need for clinical applications? Is there a privileged set of those properties, or shall we consider different scenarios? Do we need long or short half-lives? Do we always need red light-responsive systems? And how to tune those properties to each scenario, while attaining solubility, stability and safety?

Light-responsive MRI

October 2020

Our new paper on using small molecules to detect light and turn it into a change in MRI signal marks the end of a fascinating project. It took Friederike from small molecule design and synthesis, through photochemistry, relaxometry, and all the way to measurements on clinical MRI scanners. We were excited to see that our complexes showed great light response also on 1.5T and 3T patient systems. Many thanks to Sèvrin and Ronald, our clinical physicists, for their collaboration on this one!

Verena defends her PhD

30th September 2020

With the research plan spanning everything from reaction design, organic synthesis, radiochemistry, microfluidics, enzyme assays, cell assays and mouse studies, Verena was definitely not presented with an easy task. But after four years of struggles and victories, we have a new doctor! Congratulations on this achievement that shows the power of TracerLab synergy. And best wishes for the future!

Nadja on a virtual summer tour

August-September 2020

Nadja has presented her research in a virtual way on two conferences, giving a presentation on ACS Fall 2020 Virtual Meeting & Expo (August 17-20) and a presentation + poster at the 27th Lecture Conference on Photochemistry (September 14-15). Great way to reach the broad audience and show our work in those special times!

Welcoming new people / Shout out to Albert!

14th September 2020

The lab met for some nice Italian food in the Dutch “Indian summer” to welcome new members of our team: Carlijn (internship at UMCG), Elmar and Keimpe (master students) and George (new post-doc starting soon). We also took this occasion to thank Albert, zaalassistant extraordinaire, for making our corona shift work possible with his amazing and flexible scheduling abilities! In those pressing times, such organisation keeps us going and is most appreciated.

EMIM 2020

August 2020, virtual

Ilse and Wiktor „visited” the EMIM 2020, which has taken a virtual form. However, we still remember that it should have happened in Thessaloniki, Greece (see picture), and we are excited to go to the real place in 2022. Ilse showed a poster on her first PhD project and Wiktor gave a presentation and chaired a poster session.

Bioconjugates for optical imaging and PDT of microbial infections

August 2020

As an important step in our efforts to bridge imaging and therapy with light, Friederike studied new synthetic methods towards targeted bioconjugates of antibiotics with optical imaging and PDT agents. Together with our collaborators at Medical Microbiology, UMCG (big shout-out to Mafalda Bispo and Marina López-Álvarez!), we created (and purified!) some very complex molecules, elucidated their structure and evaluated their potential for imaging and therapy of bacterial/fungal infections. Read more here.

Rule-book for designing visible light switches

August 2020

We have been using the tetra-ortho-substituted azobenzenes for a while now in photopharmacology, but it was always a trial-and-error endeavor. Now thanks to the work of Lucien and colleagues, together with our collaborators in theoretical chemistry from France and Slovakia, we share with you the rule-book for the informed design of tetra-ortho-chloroazobenzenes. Hope it will be an inspiration in designing photopharmacological agents that can be addressed deep in the human body! Read more here.

Goodbye to Ferdi

August 2020

Just before a large thunderstorm rolled over Groningen, we enjoyed a warm evening with a cold beer and some pizza and said (this time properly) goodbye to Ferdi! He joined us in the beginning of this year to explore new visible-light active photoswitches using the full toolbox of physical-organic chemistry. The last months were packed with colorful chemistry, large data calculations, a university lockdown and tons of adventures in and around the lab. Ferdi will return to Munich and finish his Thesis there in the upcoming weeks. We wish you good luck in writing your Master Thesis and all the best for your future!

Friederike obtains her PhD!

8th July 2020

After four years of hard work in our lab, having pioneered numerous research lines that bridge chemistry and medical imaging, Friederike defended her thesis in style! It was a great celebration of basic science applied to real clinical problems. Thanks to all our supporters, enablers and collaborators! And congratulations Doctor Friederike!

Jana interviewed by Nature

June 2020

The recent news report from Nature on the extent to which academic laboratories around the world return to their operation after COVID pandemic includes a short interview with our own Jana! Read more on this timely topic here.

Kaja's paper on ChemComm back cover

May 2020

This beautiful picture, prepared by Kaja, is featured on the back cover of ChemComm to promote Kaja’s last paper on controlling the heart rate with red light through photocaged dopamine. Congratulations Kaja!

Dusan’s PhD promotion

8th May 2020

Dusan made us all proud, defending his thesis in a great way! It is a great achievement to introduce a whole new field: chronophotopharmacology (Judoon language, anyone?). With his typical calmness, Dusan tackled the challenges of four years of research and 45 minutes of the promotion. A big shout-out to our collaborators from Nagoya: dr. Hirota and Prof. Itami! It was also great to see Prof. Phoebe Glazer again :) We are happy that Dusan stays with us for a few more months… watch this space for more scientific successes.

Mark defends his PhD thesis!

22nd April 2020

In a great style, Mark defended his thesis! It was a result of four fantastic years, filled with scientific discoveries, inspiring discussions and music inspirations. And the thesis had a Metallica-inspired title! This wonderful day also marks the first promotion with Wiktor as a first promotor – a source of great pride. After the promotion, we celebrated the event with a glass of apple juice in front of our Academy Building. All the best for the future Dr. Hoorens!

Controlling heart beat rate with red light

April 2020

Together with our collaborators from the Department of Cardiology, UMCG, Kaja has established a method to control the heartbeat with red light, using BODIPY-based photocleavable protecting groups. Read more in our new paper here!

Nadja selected for the CAS 2020 future leaders program

March 2020

Great news! Nadja was selected for the 2020 CAS Future Leaders, as one of elite (post)doctoral scholars from around the world. The Future Leaders program awards early-career scientists with leadership training and a trip to the ACS National Meeting & Exposition. Congratulations Dr. Simeth!

Traditions are very important

March 2020

In SzymanskiLab, we have coffee every day at 10 am. And this tradition will be continued, even if we all need to stay at home due to the COVID-19 outbreak! Stay healthy everyone :)

Jana gets the 2nd prize at the 3 Minute Thesis Competition

11th March 2020, Groningen, The Netherlands

Jana made the whole lab very proud by winning the second prize at the internationally renowned 3 Minute Thesis competition in Groningen! You can see her profile, alongside all other PhD students who took part, here.

Imaging-Guided Therapy Symposium

10-12 February 2020, Groningen, The Netherlands

Ilse, Friederike and Wiktor visited the Conference on "Imaging-Guided Therapy" in Groningen. Ilse and Friederike showed posters and we all enjoyed the new insights on how MRI, PET, CT and optical imaging can be used towards personalized medical treatments. And Friederike kept the tradition of winning prizes, with yet another 1st poster prize awarded for her contribution!

Farewell to Chantal / Hello to Ferdi!

February 2020

Braving the Ciara storm that raged on the streets of Groningen, the team went out to say goodbye to Chantal who is leaving our group after a year of research within her MsC project. Chantal, it was an absolute pleasure to host you and we are very grateful for your colourful contributions to our chemistry! We wish you all the best for the future.

We also took the opportunity to welcome Ferdinand from Munich, who is running an exchange project in our lab, working on theory and preparation of new molecular photoswitches!

Mark talks about photopharmacology during the UMCG Research Safari

February 2020

Mark represented our lab at the KOLFF institute during the UMCG Research Safari, presenting to medical doctors the ideas behind photopharmacology. Highly appreciated!

Merry Christmas and a happy New Year from SzymanskiLab!

December 2019

Not every fraction you get from your chromatography is useful. But if you work on photoactive molecules, every fraction is beautiful. Chantal, thank you for those lovely pictures :) Have a very colorful 2020 everyone!

Christmas dinner

16 December 2019

Our Lab met for a wonderful Christmas dinner. While this occasion was funny on its own, we made it even more amazing with great food, gluhwein and a game of Cards against Humanity. Jana, thank you for letting us meet at your place! Jeffrey, wearing your battle vest was an honour. Everyone, thank you for being such an amazing team. Merry Christmas!

Photopharmacology 3 is on-line!

Upcoming: 28-29 May 2020

The website for the third installment of the Photopharmacology conference is out! We are very excited to be joining. Please register, it will be great to see you all there!


10-11 December 2019

Szymanski Lab visited the annual CHAINS conference, where all the academic groups working on chemistry in The Netherlands meet to discuss the newest developments. Jana and Mark gave presentations; Nadja, Chantal, Ilse, Pier and Albert showed posters. And Wiktor organized a focused session on the discovery, understanding and application of molecular photoswitches, during which Michael received the Backer prize for the best PhD thesis awarded in chemistry in 2018!

A party to remember!

November 2019

To celebrate Wiktor’s recent promotion, the lab and friends had an amazing party! Thank you all for coming, for the wonderful movie, the Spicy surprise, the T-shirts, the perfect gift… It is next day now and I still cannot even start to comprehend all the work that you all put into it. And I am lost for words to describe how much I appreciate it… and a special thanks to Prof. Stefan Hecht and Svante Ihrig for their contribution!

Jana’s paper with a write-up in Synfacts

November 2019

Our recent paper on photocontrol of FRAC nanopore has received a highlight from the group of Prof. Dirk Trauner. Congratulations to Jana and thanks to Dirk!

Farewell to Aldo

November 2019

Aldo, our exchange student from Amsterdam, is leaving the group after many months of working on the ITI photoswitch under the guidance of Mark. Thank you for all the great work, it was amazing to see you grow as a researcher in our lab!

Wiktor talks at KLIFOP 2019

1st November 2019

Wiktor introduced the ideas behind using light in medicine to clinical physicists (in training), during the yearly KLIFOP symposium in Zwolle. Many thanks for the invitation to the beautiful venue of Dominican monastery and to this audience whose expertise will be very important for us in the future!

Mark visits LENS in Florence

October 2019

Mark, supported by a grant from LASERLAB-EUROPE, spent three weeks in Florence, working at the European Laboratory for Non-linear Spectroscopy with our great friend and collaborator Mariangela Di Donato. Expect some fascinating results on ultrafast dynamics of ITI photoswitch soon!

Farewell to Eduardo

October 2019

After 3 months of victorious battles with highly polar azobenzenes and their unpredictable reactivities, Eduardo, our exchange student from Rioja (Spain) is leaving us to finish his PhD in his home country. Thank you Eduardo for your amazing contribution to our chemistry, we will miss your quiet professionalism and work ethics! And thanks for all the wine…

Molecular Nanotour Symposium 2019

9 October 2019, Berlin, Germany

SzymanskiLab joined the 2019 Molecular Nanotour Symposium organized in Groningen with the groups of Ben Feringa, Johannes Teichert, Oliver Dumele and Martin Oestreich. Jana and Wiktor gave presentations, and Ilse, Chantal, Nadja, Friederike, Aldo, Albert, Pier and Eduardo showed posters. And Ilse got the poster prize sponsored by TCI chemicals. Congratulations!

Mark wins the presentation prize at ISOP 2019!

27th September 2019, Paris, France

Mark won the prize for his presentation about ITI, our new molecular photoswitch, at the 2019 International Symposium on Photochromism. Congratulations!

9th International Symposium On Photochromism

23-27 September 2019, Paris, France

Mark and Wiktor gave presentations at 2019 International Symposium on Photochromism in Paris, introducing our recent results to the photoswitch community, including our new switch ITI. And Mark personally witnessed the second PSG loss this season!

World Molecular Imaging Congress 2019

4-7 September 2019, Montreal, Canada

Friederike (supported by a travel stipend from the conference) and Wiktor presented posters during our first ever visit to the WMIC. Also, together with UMCG friends from NGMB, medical microbiology and image-guided surgery, we promoted the UMCG, YMCA-style. Travel tip: go to Canada if you love hiking and maple-glazed salmon is your thing.

Photopharmacology with proteins

August 2019

We usually make photoswitchable drugs by modifying small bioactive molecules with a photoswitch. But how about (really, really) big bioactive molecules, like pore-forming proteins? Jana successfully explores this new world of challenges and opportunities in her new paper, in collaboration with the group of Giovanni Maglia.

3rd International Symposium on Photopharmacology

Upcoming: May 2020, New York

Yes, it is happening! Prof Dirk Trauner and Prof Drew Woolley joined forces to create the third instalment of the photopharmacology conference, started by us in Groningen in 2017 and continued by our Friends in Barcelona in 2018. We are very, very proud and excited for the great line-up!

Dangling Modifier (partially) reunited

August 2019, Barcelona

During the Photobiology conference in Barcelona, the progressive sludge metal band “The dangling modifier” got partially reunited, after the long hiatus caused by artistic disagreements over putting both pineapple and jalapeno on a pizza. Left-to-right: Phoebe Glazer (air violin), Wiktor (air bass guitar), Sherri McFarland (air guitar).

ESP-IUPB Photobiology 2019

25-28 August, Barcelona, Spain

Together with Mafalda Bispo, our friend and collaborator from the Department of Clinical Microbiology, UMCG, Wiktor has visited the Photobiology conference, in Barcelona to talk about our recent results in photopharmacology and medical imaging. On the side: a shout-out to Theo Rodat from Kiel for a highlight of our collaboration in his great talk!

Using MR Imaging to track the distribution and delivery of cargo from liposomes

August 2019

Light-responsive drug delivery systems have been around for years now. But how do we know if they reach their destination in human body? And if they do, how do we know if we deliver enough light to release the drug? In our first experimental paper on MR imaging, Friederike presents a new type of MR-active liposomes that respond to light, changing their MR contrast and releasing their cargo at the same time, providing on-line, whole body imaging support to smart drug delivery.

Article in Het Parool

August 2019

Our research has been highlighted in the science section of the Dutch newspaper Het Parool. Congratulations to Mark for this great highlight and thanks to Prof. Nathalie Katsonis (UTwente) for her nice words in the interview!

Farewell to Carla

August 2019

After an amazing year of synthesis, photochemistry, biological assays, initial frustrations and final victories, Carla is finishing her Master research in our lab. We wish you all the best in Switzerland! We will miss you here…

Farewell to Lucien

August 2019

After a very productive year, our inorganic-turned-organic chemist and spectroscopist extraordinaire Lucien is leaving us to pursue a career across the Atlantic. We will remember him for his hard work and many fantastic technical solutions that he introduced into our daily photochemical practice. Good luck in your future endeavours Lucien! (and yes, those are little spectrophotometers on the cakes)

21st European Symposium on Organic Chemistry

14-18 July 2019, Vienna, Austria

Dusan talked about light-effected time dosimetry - a great talk to a large audience at the European Symposium on Organic Chemistry.

Special celebration cake

June 2019

To understand the biological activity of compounds that Mark has published recently, he had to perform Western blot analyses. Being a big fan of this method, he treated us today to a special paper celebration treat. Yes, those were edible!

Wiktor interviewed for optics.org

June 2019

Wiktor discussed the applications of photopharmacology and the importance of optics devices in a recent interview with Tim Hayes from optics.org. You can find the write-up in here.

Stratingh day 2019

18th June 2019

The members of our lab swept away the competition at the annual event of the Stratingh Institute, University of Groningen, which involves a scientific symposium and the traditional relay run in costumes. Friederike got the poster prize, Nadja was the fastest woman runner and the whole team won the costume contest for the second year in a row! The winning team was called ElimiNations (Fate Determining Steps) and you can see them here: (left to right) Donald Trump, Theresa May, Vladimir Putin, Angela Merkel and Kim Jong-Un. And yes, they did use the Paris Climate Agreement as a baton.

Switching a kinase inhibitor with light

June 2019

Photocontrol of kinase activity is a long-standing challenge for photopharmacology. In this difficult endeavour we struggle with optimising the photochemistry and activity differences at the same time. In our new paper, Mark shows the result of this optimisation that has led to a molecule showing a significant, light-dependent difference of BRAF kinase inhibitory potency.

Michael's research on the cover of JACS

June 2019

Michael’s paper features on the cover of JACS with a fantastic picture prepared by Kaja!

GRC conference on artificial molecular switches and motors

9-14 June 2019, Holderness, US

Nadja and Wiktor, together with friends from Feringa group, have visited the 2019 Gordon Research Conference on artificial molecular switches and motors in New Hampshire. Nadja presented a poster and Wiktor gave a talk. Many thanks to the Steve Goldup, Ivan Aprahamian, Dirk Trauner and Stefan Hecht for the invitation to this amazing and inspiring meeting!

Friederike gives a talk at 2019 MISP symposium

7th June 2019

Friederike talked about MRI-guided drug delivery at the 14th edition of the Medical Imaging Symposium for PhD students held in Groningen.

Michael's thesis chosen the best PhD thesis of the University of Groningen in 2018!

June 2019

Michael will receive the Wierenga-Rengerink Prize for the best University of Groningen dissertation 2018 on July 5th as part of the Summer Ceremony of RUG. The prize was endowed by the Wierenga-Rengerink family to the Ubbo Emmius Fund and is inteded for futher academic development.

Mark talks about ITI switch on Dutch radio

June 2019

Mark was interviewed by BNR radio for their „Wetenschap Vandaag” (Science Today) section. He talked about our new switch ITI and its possible applications in photopharmacology. You can listen to the podcast here (in Dutch).

ITI: A new switch on the block

June 2019

With great pride we present Iminothioindoxyl (ITI), a new molecular photoswitch synthesized by Mark and characterised on spectroscopical and theoretical level with our friends and collaborators from Amsterdam, Florence, Olomouc and Nantes. ITI can be operated with visible light and shows a large separation between the bands of photoisomers. And it also works in water!

For the story behind the discovery of ITI, see here.

For the popular write-ups, see here, here and here.

Building BRIDGEs

May 2019

Wiktor has joined forces with dr. Romana Schirhagl and dr. Andor Glaudemans at UMCG to build BRIDGE, a new research program under the auspices of the KOLFF institute. BRIDGE is aimed to bring together people at UMCG (and beyond) who are interested in development and application of (medical) imaging methods. And we are already making the news!

Michael Wins the 2018 Backer-KNCV Prize for best PhD Thesis

April 2019

We are very proud of Michael who won the Backer-KNCV prize (Backer Prize|RUG writeup with more explanation), awarded annually for the best PhD thesis in the field of organic chemistry in The Netherlands! Congratulations Michael and we are excited to hear you deliver the plenary lecture, traditionally associated with the prize, at the 2019 CHAINS conferece.

Chem. Eur. J. cover

April 2019

The paper from Gosia, Claudia and Nadja on the use of light to control peptide-DNA interactions made it to the cover of Chemistry - A European Journal. Congratulations!

14th European Molecular Imaging Meeting, Glasgow, UK

19-22 March 2019

Friederike and Wiktor visited the 14th EMIM conference in Glasgow. Friederike gave a presentation and showed a poster and Wiktor showed a poster and received his first poster prize ever. Many thanks to the organizers for another great EMIM, looking forwards to 2020 in Thessaloniki!

Visit Prof. Chikara Dohno (Osaka University)

20th February 2019, Groningen

Our group was visited by Prof. Chikara Dohno from Osaka, Japan, who collaborates with Nadja on the development of photoswitchable compounds for DNA interactions. Many thanks for the visit, interesting discussion and a clear, engaging lecture!

137th Dies Natalis of G.F.S.V."PHARMACIAE SACRUM"

6th February 2019, Groningen

Wiktor was invited to talk to pharmacy students and alumni at the scientific symposium of G.F.S.V. "Pharmaciae Sacrum" in Groningen cinema. It was amazing to speak at the 137th yearly event of the oldest student association in The Netherlands!

Vote for Friederike and Pier in Science magazine "Dance your PhD" competition!

February 2019

Friederike and Pier were selected as the finalists of the „Dance your PhD” competition! You can help them win by voting for their video on the Science journal website.

Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry special issue

January 2019

Wiktor Szymanski and Prof. Stefan Hecht (Berlin) are guest editors of a Beilstein Journal of Organic Chemistry thematic issue on Molecular Photoswitches. For more information and to submit your article, please visit the issue website.

Friederike dances her PhD project!

January 2019

Taking part in the „Dance your PhD competition”, Friederike and Pier prepared a dance video that presents one of Friederike’s projects. The choreography illustrates the development of a smart, activatable MRI contrast agent. We are very proud of the result and we invite you to vote on it! Watch this space for more information soon.

Michael receives three post-doc grants

January 2019

Michael has been awarded with the Niels Stensen Fellowship, the SNSF Early Postdoc.Mobility Fellowship and the NWO Rubicon Fellowship. Congratulations!

One of these stipends will allow him to conduct research for 1-2 years with Prof. Dr. Joanna Aizenberg at Harvard University in the field of bio-inspired materials. Michael will focus on the development of multi-responsive functional materials and surfaces and will study how to control and change their properties in real time.

NVBMB Dr. Bert L. Schram Award for Valentina

December 2018

Valentina, who works with us on structural aspects of photopharmacology, has received the prestigious Dr. Bert L. Schram Award for the best lecture by a young scientist in the field of biochemistry and/or molecular biology at CHAINS conference. Congratulations!


3th - 5th December 2018, The Netherlands

Our team bravely represented the lab at the yearly CHAINS conference, where all the Dutch chemists meet to discuss recent developments. Mark and Dusan gave well-received presentations, and Jana, Friederike and Pier presented posters.

PhD position open

November 2018

SzymanskiLab is looking for a skilled organic chemist with a MSc diploma (held currently or to be awarded by the end of February 2019) for a PhD position in developing next generation MRI and optical imaging agents. If interested, please contact Wiktor at w.szymanski[at]umcg.nl.

Ubbo Emmius College charter

November 2018

In recognition of our role in promoting the city of Groningen through the organization of our 2017 ISPP conference, our group received the prestigious Ubbo Emmius College charter. Many thanks once again to Friederike, Stephanie and Mark for the organization of the symposium, and to Margot Spee / Ubbo Emmius for this honor.

Empowering nanomedicine with MRI: why, how, and what’s next?

November 2018

Friederike answers those questions in our new review on liposomal drug delivery where smart MRI contrast agents are used to follow both the distribution and activation of responsive carriers.

ISPP2018, Vic, Spain

1-2 November 2018

With a big group we visited the second International Symposium on Photopharmacology, celebrating a new meeting tradition that our group has started in 2017. Dusan and Wiktor delivered talks, Jana, Friederike, Laura, Valentina, Dusan, Pier and Mark showed posters, and Mark even won the poster prize! Many thanks to the organizers for carrying the torch of photopharmacology forward, we are very much excited for the next installments!

Dusan's picture featured in C&EN

October 2018

Dusan’s picture has been chosen for the C&EN column “Chemistry in Pictures” – see it here. Congratulations!

Nadja with Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship

October 2018

Just arrived and already making us proud: Nadja secured the Feodor Lynen Research Fellowship from the Humboldt Foundation to work with us on the photocontrol of biological processes. Congratulations!

IASOC 2018, Naples, Italy

22-25 September 2018

Wiktor gave an invited talk at the 2018 Ischia Advanced School of Organic Chemistry. Many thanks to the organizers for the invitation and compliments for preparing such an amazing conference!

7th EuCheMS Congress, Liverpool, UK

26-30 August 2018

Mark presented his work on photopharmacology during the 2018 EuCheMS conference in Liverpool. As a true FC Liverpool fan, he also visited the famous stadium at Anfield Road!

Do molecular motors operate in water?

August 2018

The short answer is: yes, they do. For a more detailed answer provided by Anouk (congratulations!), please see our recent paper.

TIBS cover

August 2018

Mark’s review on the use of photopharmacology as a research tool made it to the front cover of Trends in Biochemical Sciences. Congratulations!

Tapas celebration

26 July 2018

The Gang went out for tapas to celebrate the visit of Ewa (internship from London) and the joining of Lucien for post-doc. Also, Dusan might could has have had a birthday. Or not.

The Smurfactants

02 July 2018

Our team The Smurfactants took part in the traditional relay organized every year at Stratingh institute. The team consisted of (left-to-right): Lucas (Hefty Smurf), Pier (Brainy Smurf), Wiktor (Gargamel), Friederike (Smurfette) and Dusan (Papa Smurf). Needless to say, we won the Costume Competition, the only competition that matters. Thanks to Mark for lending us the cat!

19th Tetrahedron Symposium, Lake Garda, Italy

26-29 June 2018

Mark proudly represented our lab with a poster at the Tetrahedron Symposium in Italy.

Photopharmacology as a research tool

June 2018

Besides the promise they hold in medicine, photoswitchable bioactive molecules can offer exciting possibilities as research tools to selective affect the activity of a protein in a chosen space and time. We look deeper into those applications in our recent review.

Dangling Modifier!

June 2018

During the ASP 2018 conference a new progressive sludge metal band came to be: we are The Dangling Modifier! Left-to-right: Sherri McFarland (g), Ricky Lincoln (dr), Wiktor (bg), Fergus Poynton (kb), Edith "Phoebe" Glazer (voc). Watch this space for more info.

Michael got a PhD cum laude!

1 June 2018

After four years of great research and an amazing defence, Michael obtained his PhD with honours. Congratulations Dr Lerch! And many thanks to everyone who made this day special and worked on the movie for Michael. Special shout-out to Prof. Stefan Hecht for starring in the movie and to His Photographic Excellency Dusan Kolarski for providing the pictures for free.

TracerLab website (first draft) is online

June 2018

TracerLab is a synergistic initiative between the SzymanskiLab (Radiology, UMCG), Feringa group (University of Groningen) and Elsinga group (NGMB, UMCG), aimed at developing an applying new chemistry of medical imaging. The first draft of our website is now on-line!.

Solvent effects on DASA photoswitching

May 2018

We have recently elucidated the key features of the actinic steps of DASA photoswitching. In our new paper, Michael and his amazing network of collaborators (cheers to all involved!) asks if this mechanism is conserved across different solvents and if it is general despite the differences in switching kinetics. Read more here.

Our research with a highlight in Advanced Science News

May 2018

Our recent paper on photocontrolled glutamate transport inhibition has been highlighted! Congratulations to Mark.

2018 SRBR Meeting, Amelia Island, Florida

12-16 May 2018

Dusan, supported by the SRBR Merit Award, joined 2018 Society for Research on Biological Rhythms meeting on Amelia Island, Florida to talk about our work on light-activated compounds.

ASP 2018 Biennial Meeting, Tampa, Florida

11-15 May 2018

Wiktor gave a presentation at the Biennial Meeting of the American Society for Photobiology. Many thanks to Phoebe Glazer and Sherri McFarland for my first opportunity to visit North America, the meeting was amazing!

Photocontrol over glutamate transport

May 2018

Transport of anionic amino acids plays a crucial role in many physiological processes, including synaptic transmission. Based on a known inhibitor of glutamate transport, Mark and co. have designed compounds that enable photocontrol of this process. Thanks to the groups of Dirk Slotboom and Gerrit Poelarends for this exciting collaboration! Read more here.

ISPP2018: the II International Symposium on Photopharmacology

Upcoming: 1-2 November 2018, Vic, Spain

We are extremely happy and excited to see that our Symposium from 2017 will have an amazing follow-up in Vic, Barcelona this year! A big shout-out to the organizing committee, we will be joining you in considerable numbers. Read more and register here (Early Bird Registration closes 20th July).

The Sailing season 2018 is open!

May 2018

Members of the Szymanski Lab, with friends and colleagues, opened the sailing season for this year. Lets hope for many more days like this - wind and sun!

The King of The Netherlands visits Groningen

27 April 2018

Willem-Alexander, King of The Netherlands, has visited Groningen for His birthday. Together with Ben’s group we have celebrated this by presenting our Science to His Royal Majesty. Mickel was a great Master of Ceremony! You can see the complete footage (1:53:00 onwards) here.

Mickel on the University Podcast for the King's Day 2018

April 2018

For people who speak Dutch: Mickel took part in the first podcast from University of Groningen "In de Wetenschap". You can hear it here.

SFB/TRR186 - PhD-Student/Postdoc-Meeting 2018

18-20 April 2018, Berlin, Germany

Michael was an invited speaker at the meeting of the action "Molecular Switches in the Spatio-Temporal Control of Cellular Signal Transmission" in Berlin.

C&EN feature on photopharmacology

April 2018

Wiktor is among the researchers interviewed for a feature on Photopharmacology in the new issue of Chemistry & Engineering News. Thanks to Katharine Sanderson for a nice highlight of our work!

Farewell to Jacques and Albert

March 2018

The gang went out for some steaks (and portobello & falafel for the carnivorously impaired) to give a fitting farewell to our Master students. Thank you guys for an amazing year filled with hard work and good memories. All the best, Jacques! Bon voyage, Albert!

European Molecular Imaging Meeting 2018

20th - 23rd March 2018, San Sebastian, Spain

Friederike and Wiktor went to the beautiful Basque country for food/hiking/EMIM 2018. Friederike showed a poster and Wiktor gave a talk on red-light-activated antibiotics and chaired a poster session.

Michael's work on the cover of Chem. Soc. Rev.

March 2018

A beautiful graphic, designed and painted by Kaja on the basis of Dusan’s picture / Michael’s chemistry, has made it to the cover of Chemical Society Reviews.

Controlling DNA hybridisation with a molecular motor

March 2018

Standing up to the challenge of using molecular motors in biology, Anouk took those Nobel-Prize-winning molecules to the realm of oligoneculeotide structure photomodulation. Read more about it in our new paper.

PhD position open

March 2018

A new position is open for a PhD within the consortium of Dr Albert Guskov (crystallography) and the group of Dr Wiktor Szymanski (photopharmacology) with the additional co-supervision from Prof Dirk Slotboom (biophysics and biochemistry) and Prof Gerrit Poelarends (pharmaceutical biotechnology). Deadline March 31st. If intersted, see the description / applications here.

Review on the (photo)chemistry of DASA switch

February 2018

During his PhD studies, Michael acquired a lot of experience in the synthesis, photochemistry and applications of the exciting new photoswitch DASA (donor-acceptor Stenhouse adduct), introduced in 2014 by Read de Alaniz and co-workers. To tap into that knowledge, check out our new tutorial review.

Michael teaches the next generation of chemists

January 2018

As part of the bigger event series called "TecDays" by SATW, Michael visited his old highschool near Lucerne, Switzerland, where he talked about molecular machines and photoswitches. In three modules throughout the day, high-school students could learn about molecular machines and make and switch their own photoswitches in the lab. TecDays want to spread excitment about natural sciences and technology and support education in these disciplines at highschools throughout Switzerland.

Farewell to Kaja

January 2018

After great two years with us, Kaja went back to Poland for the last leg of her PhD. We gave her a proper and fitting farewell at the local steakhouse. Thank you for all the amazing work, good luck and see you soon!

Photouncaging of amines with green light

January 2018

Using non-toxic and deep-tissue-penetrating visible light to activate biological activity opens exciting possibilities. Since amine groups are very common in bioactive molecules, Kaja has established a synthetic method to introduce BODIPY-derived photoprotecting groups on them. Using green light (520-560 nm) we can now uncage amines in a quick process. Read more in our new paper.

Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry special issue on smart imaging probes

December 2017

A special issue of Bioorg. Med. Chem., with Wiktor as guest editor, is now open for paper submissions. In creating smart imaging probes, molecular design and synthetic chemistry play a central role. The valuable contributions to this Symposium-in-print will highlight the challenges and opportunities in this field and provide the overview of current directions.

NWO ECHO Grant for Wiktor and Prof. Dirk Slotboom (GBB)

December 2017

Together with our collaborator, Prof. Dirk J. Slotboom (Membrane Enzymology, Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute) we have received an ECHO grant from the Dutch Science Organisation (NWO) to study the photocotrnolled transport through biological membranes.

Chains 2017

5th - 7th December 2017, The Netherlands

Our Lab visited the 2017 Dutch Chemistry Conference CHAINS. Friederike and Mickel gave talks in a session dedicated to photocontrol of biological processes. Jana, Friederike, Michael and Mark presented posters.

Our research with a highlight in Nature

November 2017

Our recent paper on using red/violet light to control the activity of trimethoprim-based photoswitchable antibiotic has been highlighted by Nature! Congratulations to Michael Wegener and Mickel for this amazing recognition.

Dusan with 2nd prize in EYCN Photochimica 2017!

November 2017

This amazing picture taken by Dusan in our lab was awarded with the second place in the 2017 Photochimica competition by EYCN, the young division of EuCheMS. The picture is entitled “Our Universe” and its caption runs: “Our chemistry laboratory is very often full of surprises. During the evaporation of the solvent, newly developed bioactive compound crystallized into a fascinating shape. Almost as a representation of the cosmos, this image shows a fragment of our ‘universe’ in which we create, live and play with science.” Congratulations Dusan!

Molecular Machines Nobel Prize Conference

19-22 November 2017

The SzymanskiLab was strongly represented at the special conference in honour of the 2016 Chemistry Nobel Prize awardees. Mickel gave a great talk and Dusan, Friederike, Jana, Kaja, Mark, Michael and Pier showed posters.

Reversible activation of antibiotics with red light

November 2017

Inspired by the amazing photochemical properties of tetra-ortho-substituted azobenzenes from Woolley and Hecht labs, Michael Wegener and Mickel utilised our recent synthetic methodology to develop trimethoprim-based photopharmacological antibiotics that can be operated using either green or red light. This permits deeper tissue penetration and ensures negligible toxicity of light. Read more about it here

Invited lecture at the Warsaw University of Technology

17 October 2017

Wiktor visited his Alma Mater to introduce the concepts behind photopharmacology, discuss collaborations and meet old friends. Many thanks to Prof. Zbigniew Brzozka and Dr. Ilona Grabowska-Jadach for hosting me! And cheers to science club Herbion that I co-started many, many years ago. What you guys do now makes me proud :)

Invited lecture at NanoLund

11-12 October 2017

Wiktor went for an inspiring visit to the beautiful city of Lund, to learn about light delivery on the nano-scale and discuss the emerging applications of light-controlled bioactive molecules. Many thanks to Prof. Heiner Linke for the kind invitation!

Feringa Academic Alumni Symposium

14-15 September 2017

Almost 40 members of the Feringa Family, who are holding academic positions around the World, met in Groningen to present their current work. It was amazing to meet old friends and see the enormous scope of topics that we all work on, knowing that the common denominator for all of us is one group that we all worked in at some point.

Buluitreiking for Ilse and Jana

14 September 2017

Ilse and Jana received their MSc diplomas during the buluitreiking ceremony. Congratulations!

6-Azopurines at last...

September 2017

Purines substituted in 6 position form an important class of bioactive compounds. While these structures seem like perfect candidates for azologisation in photopharmacological approach, they were elusive due to the low reactivity of the 6-amino group in purines. Now Dusan shows in our new paper how a serendipitous discovery lead to a general synthetic method that conveniently yields the title compounds in good yields. And yes, they also switch with green light!

Sailing on Paterswoldsemeer, Groningen

10 September 2017

Members of the Szymanski Lab, with friends and colleagues, went for great day out sailing on our local lake. With 4-5 Bft wind, we had lots of fun!

Working visit, Munich, Germany

6-7 September 2017

Friederike and Wiktor visited Munich to discuss science with our friends and collaborators. We had an amazing time, learned a lot and got inspiration for future work. Many thanks to dr. Oliver Thorn-Seshold (LMU) and dr. Andre Stiel & Prof. Vasilis Ntziachristos (IBMI, Helmholtz Centrum) for hosting us!

2017 ISN-ESN Meeting, Paris, France

20-24 August 2017

Wiktor talked about photopharma at the joint meeting of European and International Neurochemistry Societies. Many thanks to Prof. Pau Gorostiza and Prof. Dirk Trauner for organizing this great session and inviting our group to join the amazing conference in an impressive venue.

46th World Chemistry Congress (IUPAC), Sao Paulo, Brasil

9-14 July 2017

Wiktor introduced the concept of photophrmacology to the audience of the IUPAC conference.

Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting 2017, Germany

25th-30th June 2017

Mickel and Michael were selected to join the famous 67th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. Michael presented a poster and received the 3rd price for his contribution. He also served as a panel member on the Ethics in Science closing discussion.

Who Needs Fundamental Science Anyway?

June 2017

Well... we all do. Michael makes an important point on the blog of Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. Read all about it here.

Farewell to Ilse

May 2017

After busy eight months (and a bit), Ilse’s project came to an end. Thank you for all your hard work and good luck in the future! We will always remember you as the first MSc student of the Szymanski Group.

Münster Symposium on Cooperative Effects in Chemistry

12th May 2017

Dusan and Mickel attended the symposium in Münster. Dusan presented a poster about the new developments in azo-purine synthesis.

New Lab Members

Napoli Pizzeria, Groningen

With the recent addition of Laura (BSc student), Jacques and Albert (both MSc students), we can now fill a pretty long table at our local pizza place. Welcome to the group!

European Molecular Imaging Meeting, Cologne

5th-7th April 2017

Friederike proudly represented SzymanskiLab at the 12th European Molecular Imaging Meeting in Cologne with her poster.

International Symposium on Photopharmacology

UMCG, 16th February 2017

The SzymanskiLab has organised its first scientific symposium! With an amazing line-up of speakers and very high number of subscriptions (over 130) from all over the World, we hope to have provided the young field of photopharmacology a new tradition. Mark, Michael and Mickel presented their work in the plenary session and Dusan presented a poster. For more information and pictures, visit the conference site.

International Conference on Molecular Imaging Agents in Medicine

UMCG, 13th-15th February 2017

We helped to organize the International Conference on Molecular Imaging Agents in Medicine at the UMCG. With 200 participants, it was a big success. It featured talks from Professors Ben Feringa, Hidde Ploegh, Peter Caravan, Eva Toth and others. Friederike and Ilse presented their posters, and Friederike won the poster prize and got to present her research in the plenary session.

Feature on Photopharmacology

The Pharmaceutical Journal

A publication from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society on Photopharmacology is available here. It is an interesting perspective on the future of the field features interviews with people active in it, including Wiktor. Enjoy the read!

Chains 2016

6th - 8th December 2016, The Netherlands

SzymanskiLab was strongly represented at the 2016 Dutch Chemistry Conference CHAINS. Michael gave a talk about the photochemistry of DASAs. Mark pitched his poster. Kaja, Friederike, Mickel and Wiktor also showed posters.

International Symposium on Photochromism 2016

4th - 7th November 2016, Shanghai, China

Mickel and Michael proudly represented our lab at the ISOP 2016 in Shanghai. Mickel presented his work on photopharmacology and new methods to synthesize red-shifted azobenzenes. Michael received a poster prize for his presentation on the orthogonal photoswitching.

Our photopharmacology resource homepage is online now!

October 2016

Find information, background, tipps and tricks under www.photopharmacology.nl. If you are interested in the topic, don't hesistate to contact us for further information!


October 2016

Just in the news: Ben received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry! We are honored to be able to work with such esteemed scientist. What a day for all the group! See us cheering here

Red-shifted azobenzenes made easy

September 2016

Tetra-ortho-substituted azobenzenes, with red-shifted spectra, can be operated using visible and NIR light. They were introduced in seminal papers by the groups of Prof. Woolley (Toronto) and Prof. Hecht (Berlin). We believe that these compounds are the future of photopharmacology, since low energy photons penetrate deeper into the tissues and are scattered less. However, until now their synthesis was very challenging. In our new paper, Mickel shows an easy way to synthesize tetra-ortho-substituted azobenzenes with high yields!

Photoactivated Chemotherapy

September 2016

What other approaches, besides the use of molecular photoswitches, can be applied for light-regulated therapy of cancer? To find out more about the use of metal complexes and photocaged agents (and of course the photopharmacological approach!) look at the recent review from Friederike and Wiktor.

5th HRSMC Photochemistry School, Maastricht

27th - 31st August 2016

Dusan and Michael visited the Photochemistry School in Maastricht. Michael talked about DASA mechanism and presented his work on orthogonal photoswitching.

Sailing on Paterswoldsemeer, Groningen

July-August 2016

A contingent of Szymanski Lab, with friends, went for great days out sailing on our local lake.

XXVII European Colloquium on Heterocyclic Chemistry, Amsterdam

July 2016

Mickel gave a talk in Amsterdam at ECHC 2016 to introduce the concept of photpharmacology to the heterocycle community.

Orthogonal Photoswitching

July 2016

Is it possible to operate two molecular photoswitches independently in one solution, using light of different colors? Michael answers this question in our recent paper. You can read more about it here.

Emerging Targets for Photopharmacology

July 2016

How feasible is the delivery of light to different parts of the human body? Which organs / diseases can be addressed using photopharmacological approach? In which directions should the field develop to reach the clinics? Our group teamed up with translational surgeon Gooitzen M. van Dam (UMCG) to discuss these questions. You can read more about it here.

17th Tetrahedron Symposium, Sitges

28 June - 1st July 2016

Friederike presented a poster on her work aimed at preparation of light-activated MRI contrast agents.

Friederike won the Poster Prize

Stratingh Institute 2016 Workweek

Friederike won the Best Poster prize at for her work aimed at preparation of light-activated MRI contrast agents. Congratulations!

International Symposium on Photopharmacology

16th February 2017, Groningen, The Netherlands

Book the date in your calendar! On 16th of February 2017 we will hold the first International Symposium on Photopharmacology. More information can be found here .

Multi-Responsive Photochromes Conference, Nantes

25-28th April 2016

Michael presented his work on the photoisomerisation of DASAs, a new class of visible-light-responsive photochromes, at MRP conference. Furthermore, he presented that they can be employed for the first time in orthogonally-addressable systems comprising of multiple photochromes.

Loretnz Workshop on Optogenetics, Leiden

14-18th March 2016

Mickel and Wiktor visited the Lorentz workshop. During topical session, chaired by Wiktor, and also through lectures and poster presentations we introduced the optogenetics community to the concept of photopharmacology. We also discussed the synergies and complementarity of optogenetics and photopharmacology, which are two embodiments of the same idea: controlling biological systems with light.

European Molecular Imaging Meeting, Utrecht

8-10th March 2016

Friederike and Wiktor visited the 11th European Molecular Imaging Meeting in Utrecht. We introduced the principles of photopharmacology to the medical imaging specialists, recognising the importance of image-guided drug activation.

Claudia defended her thesis

5th February 2016

Claudia defended her thesis entitled "Peptides in Motion". Congratulations Dr. Poloni! For photos, visit our gallery section soon

Claudia thesis cover

Michael talks about Photopharmacology at the University of Zurich

December 2015

Michael delivered an inspiring talk for the lecture series "Reatch Pitch". You can read more over here.

Our research highlighted in ChemBioChem

July 2015

Our work on photoswitchable bacterial Quorum Sensing inducers received a very extensive highlight, being described as "remarkable as for the first time QS, the complex communication system of bacteria, can be controlled simply by irradiation with light"

VIDI grant for Wiktor

June 2015

Wiktor received a VIDI grant from the Dutch Science Organisation (NWO). With the grant support he will investigate new targets for photopharmacology and the the use of medical imaging techniques to evaluate photopharmacology. Congratulation also to dr. Anna Hirsch and dr. Edwin Otten from the Stratingh Institute, University of Groningen! More information on the NWO website and in the UKrant.

Mickel won the Strating Prize from the Backer foundation

June 2015

Mickel Hansen received the prestigious Strating Prize from the Backer foundation for his colloqium entitled "Wavelenght-selective cleavage of protecting groups". This great piece of work formed a basis of our recent publicaiton in Chem. Soc. Rev.. Read more here!

Mickel won the a second prize of the KNCV Golden Master Award 2014

March 2015

Royal Dutch Chemical Society (KNCV) presented the awards for the best MsC thesis of 2014. Mickel Hansen received the second award. Congratulations to Mickel and all the winners! Read more here.