Niamh McCallum

Institute of Translational Medicine University of Liverpool Crown Street Liverpool L69 3BX


Professor Patricia Murray, Professor Matthew J Rosseinsky and Professor Harish Poptani

I graduated from University of Liverpool with a Master of Chemistry degree in 2017. Following this, I spent a few months in industry working as an analyst for pharmaceutical company, Elanco. Whilst I loved my time in industry, I knew that having just a Master’s degree would limit me in my progress through the company. Thus, I accepted a multi-disciplinary PhD studentship in August 2017. As a chemist, I am highly interested in organic synthesis, polymer chemistry and inorganic materials. However, having experienced the world of biotechnology and pharmaceutical manufacturing at Elanco, I am also fascinated by the application of advanced materials in healthcare and medicine.

The development and application of non-invasive imaging technologies for investigating the behaviour of administered cells 

My project focuses on the development and application of imaging probes for the tracking of administered cells. This is important for the development of safe and efficacious cell-based therapies. Cells such as macrophages are readily labelled with magnetic probes such as Superparamagnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles (SPION) for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI.) MRI offers excellent spatial resolution so organs such as the kidney can be imaged in good anatomical detail. However, the sensitivity and temporal resolution of MRI is poor meaning that a full-body image cannot be obtained and the body-wide distribution of cells cannot be imaged. Contrary to this, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a highly sensitive imaging technique which can easily produce a full body image. Designing a hybrid, bimodal PET-MR particle will allow the body-wide distribution of macrophages to be tracked with PET and the intra-organ distribution of cells to be imaged with MR. This is realised through the novel, electrostatic functionalisation of a polycationic SPION with an anionic complex of the radiotracer Zirconium-89.

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