The Group

Post-doctoral Researchers


gian filippo ruda

Gian Filippo obtained his PhD in Medicinal Chemistry at the Welsh School of Pharmacy in Cardiff, under the supervision of Prof. Ian Gilbert. During his PhD studies, he worked on the design and development of inhibitors of the enzyme dUTPase as anti-infective treatments for tropical neglected diseases.

After his PhD, he moved to the Division of Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery at the University of Dundee, where he worked as postdoctoral medicinal chemist on several research projects in the field of neglected diseases. These included Human African Trypanosomiasis, Malaria and Aspergillosis.

In June 2010 Gian Filippo moved back to Italy and joined the Department of Drug Discovery and Development D3 at the Italian Institute of Technology. There, he worked as Senior Medicinal Chemist on different projects in the field of pain treatment, inflammation and addiction at different stages of the drug discovery pipeline.

In August 2013, joined the newly established group of Professor Brennan at the Target Discovery Institute and has been working in the development of chemical probes in the field of epigenetics, focusing in particular on Lysine Demethylase (KDM) proteins. Since August 2018, Gian Filippo has also been part of a team of BRC-funded translational scientists of the Structural Genomic Consortium (SGC).


Saleta Vazquez Rodriguez

Saleta graduated in 2007 in Chemistry at the University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain). She did her final project at the Northern Institute for Cancer Research and at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne (UK) under the supervision of Prof. Ian Hardcastle, Bernard Golding and Roger Griffin, where she worked in the development of inhibitors for p53-MDM2 interactions.

In 2010 she gained her MSc in Organic Chemistry and in 2014 she obtained her PhD in Medicinal Chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Eugenio Uriarte and Prof. Lourdes Santana. Her research field during her PhD was focused on the development of nature inspired oxacycles with pharmacological applications. During her PhD, she developed several stays at the University of Hawai’I at Manoa (USA) under the supervision of Prof. Marcus Tius, and at the University of Porto (Portugal) under the supervision of Fernanda Borges.

In 2014, she developed a postdoctoral research at the University of Porto (Portugal) where she worked on the synthesis of benzopyrone derivatives as antioxdant agents.

In November 2015, Dr. Vazquez Rodriguez joined Paul Brennan’s group as visiting postdoctoral researcher and since 2017, she is a Marie Curie Fellow in his group working on the discovery of new chemical probes for lysine demethylase (KDM) inhibitors as novel epigenetic chemical probes.


Tamas Szommer

Tamas Szommer earned his MSc in Medicinal Chemistry at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (under the supervision of Prof. Gyorgy Kalaus) in 2003. He started his industrial career at ComGenex Inc. in Hungary as medicinal chemist and he led numerous custom library and combinatorial library synthesis projects. He also actively participated in the development and introduction of ComGenex’s proprietary central ELN database system. In the meantime he was actively involved into the development of a database for structural evolution (EMIL - `Example-Mediated Innovation for Lead-Evolution` leading by  Prof. Toshio Fujita, CompuDrug Inc.). In 2006 ComGenex was acquired by Albany Molecular Research Inc. and Tamas was promoted to Head of Microwave and Parallel Chemistry and he was responsible for the operation and continuous development of the Parallel Chemistry Group in Hungary. He participated in the design and synthesis of small molecular libraries, custom library projects, fragment-based drug discovery projects and numerous natural product-like libraries. In 2012 Tamas successfully managed a technology transfer project at AMRI Hyderabad in India then he joined to ComInnex Inc. (Hungary) for a couple of months to `set up` a medicinal chemistry laboratory.

Tamas joined Prof. Paul Brennan’s Group at the Target Discovery Institute in 2013 to participate in the development of histone lysine demethylases chemical probes.


Vinnie Fagan

Vinnie completed his PhD in 2011 at the School of Chemistry, National University of Ireland Galway. His PhD involved the synthesis and biological evaluation of novel imidazo-benzimidazole quinone anti-cancer compounds. Following his PhD, Vinnie spent two years working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, designing and synthesising a library of synthetic lipopeptide based self-adjuvanting vaccine candidates against Group A Streptococcus.

In 2014 Vinnie returned to Ireland where he took up employment as a Technical Development Chemist, GlaxoSmithKline (Currabinny, Cork, Ireland). He provided technical chemical expertise relating to the production of a range of active pharmaceutical ingredients.

In March 2016 Vinnie commenced his current role as Postdoctoral Scientist – Medicinal Chemistry, to design and synthesize small molecule inhibitors of epigenetic targets as part of ongoing epigenetic target validation studies by the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC)-Oxford.


stephane de cesco

Stephane completed his Msc in Chemistry in his hometown in Brussels (Université Libre de Bruxelles). He then moved overseas to Montreal (Canada) to complete his PhD at McGill University, working on “Combining computational chemistry, synthesis and enzymology for the design of covalent inhibitors applied to prolyl oligopeptidase inhibition” under the co-supervision of Prof. Nicolas Moitessier and Anthony Mittermaier.

Following his PhD, Stephane moved to Oxford where he’s currently working as a computational chemist in the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute. When he’s not in front of his computer you will likely find him with a (Belgian) beer or swing dancing on some jazzy tunes.


Katherine England

Katherine completed an M.Chem. degree at the University of Oxford, working under the supervision of Prof. Jeremy Robertson for her final year research project. In 2002, she joined the Medicinal Chemistry department at Pfizer in Sandwich, UK, where she worked in drug discovery across a variety of disease areas and drug classes. Katherine joined the Structural Genomics Consortium at the University of Oxford in 2011, where she designed and synthesized inhibitors of epigenetic proteins and was awarded a D.Phil. in Organic Chemistry under the supervision of Prof. Christopher Schofield and Prof. Paul Brennan.

In 2015, she joined the newly formed Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute, where she is part of a multi-disciplinary research team working on target identification and drug discovery for dementia.


anna cederbalk

Anna received her MSc in organic chemistry from Lund University 2014 in the group of Prof. Wärnmark. She continued with a PhD in medicinal chemistry at the University of Copenhagen in the group of Prof. Kristensen, synthesizing PDE1 PET ligands.

She moved to Oxford in August 2017 to join the group of Prof. Brennan. Her research focuses on developing ligands for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. If not in the lab trying to synthesize awesome molecules, you can most probably find her at the local Thai boxing gym kicking a bag of sand.


Carmen jimenez antunez

Carmen graduated in 2010 with a degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Salamanca (Spain). During this time, she spent 6-months at the University of Montpellier 1 (France) under the supervision of Professor Pierre Cuq, where she collaborated in a toxicology project to study the implication of MRPs and GSTs in the acquired resistance of malign melanoma to vinca alkaloids. In 2010 she was awarded “Grado de Salamanca” for her research in Medicinal Chemistry under the supervision of Dr Rafael Pelaez Lamamie and Dr Raquel Alvarez Lozano. Her work focused on the rational design, synthesis and evaluation of new organic molecules belonging to the isocombretastatins' family with potential antimitotic activity.

In 2011 she graduated with an MSc in Drug Research, Development, and Control from the University of Barcelona (Spain), after which she worked as a pharmacy manager. In 2014 she moved to Cardiff to enrol in a PhD program under the supervision of Professor Christopher McGuigan and Professor Andrea Brancale, working in close collaboration with the pharmaceutical company NuCana BioMed. She graduated in 2017 having worked on the “Design, synthesis, and biological evaluation of nucleoside phosphoramidates with potential anticancer activity”.

In 2018 she joined Professor Paul Brennan’s group as a postdoctoral Scientist. She currently works as part of the SGC Oxford in a multidisciplinary project for the development of target enabling packages helping the discovery of drug development for Alzheimer Research.


Raina Seupel

Raina obtained her M.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of Leipzig in 2012. Under the supervision of Prof. Christoph Schneider, her thesis project was focused on the synthesis of tetrahydrofurans via vinologous Mukaiyama-aldol-domino reaction. Afterwards, undertook an internship at Merck KGaA in Darmstadt, Germany.

For her PhD studies she moved to the Julius-Maximilians University of Wuerzburg. Under the supervision of Prof. Gerhard Bringmann, she worked on natural product synthesis and medicinal chemistry establishing total synthesis of antitumoral and antiinfective naphthylisoquinoline alkaloids and contributing the elucidation of the mode of action using labeled compounds. After her PhD, she spend some months in the groups of Prof. Martin Eilers and Dr. Elmar Wolf at the University of Wuerzburg for the synthesis of small bivalent molecules for the investigation on the therapeutic potential of the transcription factor Myc.

After obtaining her PhD from the University of Wuerzburg, she joined Prof. Paul Brennan Group at the Target Discovery Institute in May 2018, where she is working on the discovery of inhibitors as novel epigenetic chemical probes.


Tryfon Zarganis-Tzitzikas

Tryfon obtained his B.Sc. in Chemistry from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece in 2010 and his M.Sc., summa cum laude, in Synthetic Organic Chemistry in 2012, under the guidance of Prof. J. Stephanidou – Stephanatou at the same University. In 2017 he obtained his Ph.D., cum laude, in Medicinal Chemistry under the guidance of Prof. Alexander Dömling in the Group of Drug Design at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. His thesis focused on ‘’Innovative Multicomponent Reactions and their Use in Medicinal Chemistry”.

After obtaining his Ph.D., Tryfon joined Syncom B.V. as a medicinal chemist working on an immuno-oncology project in close collaboration with the University of Groningen. Since 2014, he has been a co-founder and CSO of TelesisPharma B.V. in Groningen, a company focusing on exploring novel synthetic routes to APIs using multicomponent reactions. In Dec 2018, he joined Prof. Paul Brennan’s group at the Oxford Drug Discovery Institute at the University of Oxford, UK, as a postdoctoral scientist focusing on Dementia, a project funded by Alzheimer’s Research, UK.

DPhil Students


Janine Gray

Janine graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MSci in Natural Sciences (specialising in Chemistry) in 2015. Her Master’s project was completed in Professor Chris Abell’s group and concerned the development of inhibitors of M. tuberculosis using fragment based drug discovery.

Following a year studying chemical biology at Harvard University, she began her DPhil under the supervision of Professors Paul Brennan and Frank von Delft at the SGC. Her project uses the XChem high-throughput protein crystallography pipeline developed at Diamond and the SGC to develop inhibitors for GTPase/GEF complexes.


Milan fowkes

Milan completed his undergraduate master's degree in Chemistry (MChem) at the University of Warwick (2007-2011), where he worked on a final year project involving radical cyclisations of N-alkenyl-N-2-bromobenzyl acetamides under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Clark. He then moved to Canada in 2012 to complete a two-year MSc in Chemistry at Western with a specialization in molecular imaging under the supervision of Dr. Leonard G. Luyt. During that time, he synthesised a peptidomimetic radiotracer specifically targeting the ghrelin receptor for the purpose of PET imaging of prostate cancer.

Having developed a strong interest in molecular imaging, he began working as a research assistant on a collaborative project between the Kennedy Institute (Dr. Ngee Han Lim) and TDI (Professor Paul E. Brennan) at the University of Oxford in 2015. This involved synthesising a series of radiopaque peptides for the imaging of cartilage breakdown in osteoarthritis. He began his DPhil in October 2016, and his current research focuses on designing selective ADAMTS-4,-5 substrates to detect and image their proteinase activity in vivo. He is supervised by Dr. Ngee Han Lim (Kennedy) as well as Professor Tonia L. Vincent (Kennedy) and Professor Paul E. Brennan (TDI).


Rob quinlan

Rob completed his MChem degree in 2016 at the University of Edinburgh, where he spent a year in France working with Dr Nicolas Blanchard of the Université de Strasbourg on the development of intramolecular inverse electron-demand [4+2] cycloadditions for the synthesis of pharmacologically relevant pyridine derivatives. During his final year project, he worked with Professor Guy Lloyd-Jones on the application of a gold catalysed C-H arylation reaction as a means of modifying BINOL phosphoric acids. 

Rob's research interests are in the field of chemical biology, particularly with regards to the chemistry of living systems, and how it can be used to investigate the pathology and treatment of disease. He joined the EPSRC Synthesis for Biology and Medicine CDT in 2016 and is currently undertaking a DPhil project researching the use of chemogenomics for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. Outside of the lab, Rob is a keen rugby player, and enjoys cooking and reading.


Loane Serrano

Originally from France, Loane did her Master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh. She did her final year project under the supervision of Prof. Paul Barlow on fluorine labelled peptides for NMR binding studies with bromodomains.

Loane is currently studying for her DPhil with the Synthesis for Biology and Medicine CDT, under the supervision of Dr Akane Kawamura and Prof. Paul Brennan. Her work focusses on developing assays and cyclic peptide inhibitors for the Histone Acetyl Transferase PCAF.


Yining Yang

Yining completed her MChem degree at University of Oxford in 2017. During her final year project, she spent four months working at F. Hoffmann-La Roche, co-supervised by Professor Luca Gobbi from Roche and Professor Veronique Gouverneur from Oxford, on new C-H activation methodologies of four-membered rings as synthetic tools for novel drug-like molecules. 

She then joined the EPSRC Synthesis for Biology and Medicine (SBM) CDT in 2017 and is currently doing her DPhil project with Professor Paul Brennan. Her current project is to develop proteomics platforms as screening tools for fragment-based ligand discovery. In her leisure time, she enjoys badminton, climbing and singing.

Visiting Students


Aidan Kerckhoffs

Aidan joined the group in February 2019 as an SBM rotation student. He is originally from the Netherlands, but mainly grew up abroad in other countries. Aidan graduated in 2017 from the University of Glasgow with a placement year at Roche in Basel, where he worked on synthesising PET tracers to image α-synuclein in Parkinson’s disease. For his final year project in the Jamieson group, he modelled and synthesised stapled peptides to target protein-protein interactions. After graduating, Aidan underwent a placement at Syngenta (Stein) exploring ketene-iminium methodology to develop spiro building blocks and fungicides. He joined the EPSRC Synthesis for Biology and Medicine CDT in 2018 and is currently undertaking a rotation project in the Brennan group developing inhibitors for GTPase/GEF complexes. Outside of chemistry, Aidan enjoys the outdoors, travelling, hiking, guitar and attending music events.


Mary Wilson

Mary joined the group in February 2019 as an SBM rotation student. Mary grew up in Buckinghamshire and received her MChem from the University of Oxford in 2018. She completed her Master's project under the supervision of Prof Stuart Conway on the use of dynamic combinatorial chemistry to identify novel activators for the Gram-negative bacteria potassium efflux system.

During her degree, Mary did a summer internship at the Institute of Cancer Research in London under the supervision of Prof Ian Collins, working on the synthesis of inhibitors for the microtubule-associated kinesin HSET which plays a critical role in the survival of centrosome-amplified breast cancer cells. In her spare time, Mary plays the piano and cello, reads, sews clothes, and spends time with her family.