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

June 2019

Wiktor discussed the applications of photopharmacology and the importance of optics devices in a recent interview with Tim Hayes from 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 Streve 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]

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 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.