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Chemistry, Imaging and Exobiology


The CIE team comprises various disciplines, involving synthetic and coordination chemistry, biology, physics and exobiology, all linked by a common theme centred around imaging. The last decade has seen a spectacular evolution of imaging techniques in medical, biological and other areas in which chemistry has a pivotal role. Our team has gained international recognition in three, partially interconnected axes: (i) lanthanide luminescence and probes for biological optical imaging, (ii) MRI contrast agents and small animal MR imaging and (iii) exobiology, where imaging of ancient carbonaceous biosignatures in rocks in their mineral and elemental context is of prime importance. Our most important achievements include: creation of highly near-infrared luminescent lanthanide-based small molecules, macromolecules and nanomaterials and their successful use for cellular and in vivo optical imaging; the design of metal-based responsive molecular MRI probes that are able to report on specific biomarkers; the combination of multimodal and theragnostic capabilities in single molecules or nanosized objects; novel MR imaging and spectroscopic approaches to characterize animal models (drosophila, mice, rats) of diseases; and new insights into the environment and formation of prebiotic building bricks leading to the first cells, characterisation of the oldest signatures of life preserved on Earth and their recent analogues, and search for extraterrestrial life.

Thematic groups

The team involves three thematic groups:

• Luminescent lanthanide compounds, optical spectroscopy and bioimaging (J. Hamacek)

• Metal complexes and MRI (E. Jakab Toth)

• Exobiology (F. Westall)

Team members

JAKAB TOTH Eva Senior CNRS researcher, Team Co-leader   @
WESTALL Frances Senior CNRS researcher, Team Co co-leader   @

ASSELINE Ulysse Senior CNRS researcher @
BONNET Célia CNRS researcher@
BELOEIL Jean-Claude Senior CNRS researcher   @
ELISEEVA Svetlana CNRS researcher@
HAMACEK Josef Professor, University of Orleans @
LACERDA Sara CNRS researcher @
MEME Sandra CNRS researcher  @
MEME William Lecturer, University of Orleans   @
PETOUD Stéphane Professor associated of the Universty of Geneva @

Engineers and Technicians
FOUCHER Frédéric CNRS research engineer   @
MORFIN Jean-François CNRS research engineer @
PALLIER Agnès CNRS engineer assistant @
SZEREMETA Frédéric CNRS research engineer   @
VILLETTE Sandrine CNRS research engineer @

PhD students
DASS Avinash Vicholous PhD student   @
EL HAMRANI Dounia PhD student  @
JLALI Maamar PhD student@
LAINE Sophie PhD student@
MALIKIDOGO Kyangwi Patrick PhD student@
VUILLAMY Alexandra PhD student @

Contractual members
AVELINE-YVON Priscilla Researcher (fixed term contract) @
GABOYER Frédéric Researcher (fixed term contract)   @
OUKHATAR Fatima Researcher (fixed term contract)  @

Main techniques used

  • Optical Spectroscopy and Imagery
  • Spectroscopy and Imagery by magnetic resonance
  • Microscopy (optical, by atomic force and electronic)
  • Relaxometry
  • Chemical synthesis

Main equipments

  • Horizontal Spectrometer 9.4 T and T (Bruker, Biospin)
  • Atomic Force Microscope (AFM)
  • Optical microscope
  • Force atomic microscope coupled to a confocal Raman spectrometer
  • Confocal spectral imagery: laser scanning microspectrofluorimeter
  • Dichrograph
  • UV-Visible absorption spectrophotometer
  • Spectrofluorimeter e
  • Fast Field Cycling Relaxometer
  • Potentiometer
  • High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)
  • Gas chromatography coupled to a mass spectrometer (GC-MS)
  • Vacuum chamber with VUV lamp

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