ESR Team

Sam Ceusters Sam Ceusters

I am a young, enthusiastic Belgian researcher, synthesizing novel medium-sized ring scaffolds in the group of Dr. Liam Cox. During my Bachelor’s and Master’s studies in Chemistry at the KU Leuven, I developed a passion for biochemistry, molecular design and synthetic strategies. During my Master’s thesis, which focused on developing novel inhibitors for protein kinase D, I realised that medicinal chemistry and drug design allowed me to combine these passions. Via iDESIGN, I look forward to further grow my experience and potential as a medicinal chemist, by combining the fundamental mastery and know-how at the UoB with innovative problem-solving at Mercachem. During my free time, you will find me exploring the British nature (proud to be a scout!), on the climbing wall or in my room, playing drums or guitar.

Daniel Kővári Daniel Kővári

Hi, I am Dani. I come from Budapest, which is the capital city of Hungary. I’ve graduated as Pharmaceutical Engineer at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in 2017. After my graduation I worked as a preparative chemist in a small company in Budapest, focusing on library generation and custom synthesis. However, I have always wanted to do more meaningful research in the medicinal area of chemistry. Therefore, I applied for the iDESIGN project at the University of Birmingham! Here I am working in Dr. Liam Cox’s group on the synthesis of novel heterocyclic scaffolds. These compounds will be used in library synthesis for early-stage drug discovery. I found the idea behind the whole project amazing and really look forward to dig myself into the research. Besides being in the lab, I like to meet new people, cook delicious meals and play my ukulele.

Órla Conway Órla Conway

Hi, my name is Órla and I am originally from Cork, in the Republic of Ireland. I recently graduated from University College Dublin with a degree in Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology. I have always been interested in the relationship between biology and chemistry and I wanted to explore this more as part of my postgraduate studies. This is why I chose to apply to be a part of iDesign! I will be working in the group of John S. Fossey synthesising libraries of heterocyclic compounds which can be used in the drug discovery process. In my spare time you’ll most find me trying out new recipes or planning my next trip!

Alessandro Balella Alessandro Balella

I’m an Italian researcher, graduated in Chemistry and Pharmaceutical technologies at the University of Ferrara (Italy).
I’ve now joined Paul Davies’ group at the University of Birmingham and my project aims to synthesize polycyclic alkaloid-like structures using gold-triggered cascading cycloadditions. Throughout the course of my studies at the University of Ferrara, I had the opportunity to study in depth about transition metal-catalysed reactions and to apply this knowledge during my Master’s thesis project, which focused on the synthesis of a NOP antagonist. I find the possibility of developing new synthetic pathways via transition-metal-catalysed reactions fascinating, because it could lead to the preparation of important structural motifs that were previously impossible to synthesize, paving the way to new drugs for the treatment of serious diseases. When I’m not in the lab I like to train in the gym, watch some rugby or play the bass and the drums.

Elena Claudia Gini Elena Claudia Gini

Hi, I am Elena Claudia and I come from Turin, in Nothern Italy. I chose Chemistry because I liked the mysterious features of the elements in the Periodic Table, as also described by the writer Primo Levi. I became interested in Organic Synthesis as it is consists of designed and ordered steps for the achievement of natural and drug-like compounds. During my Master’s degree I had the chance to work on the synthesis of nitrogen heterocycles through hydroarylation reactions, accomplished with Au(I) catalysis. This is a rising subject in the domain of metal-catalysed reactions, that has triggered new strategies for the synthesis of compounds of interest, in particular in the total synthesis of complex natural targets. I have the chance to continue the research in this field with Paul Davies’ group, aiming for the synthesis of rigid 3D scaffolds employable for early-stage drug discovery. I love travelling and meeting new people and places, and I would like to get to know the world while working. When I have time, I enjoy learning new languages, playing the piano and playing chess. I am also keen on unusual  activities, in particular Agility Dog and Kyudo.

Sandra Gatarz Sandra Gatarz

Sandra Gatarz was born in Warsaw, a beautiful city and capital of Poland. She studied chemistry as an undergraduate at the University of Warsaw and worked during her Master’s research on the synthesis of bifunctional peptides. Sandra moved to Abo Akademi University in Turku, Finland and participated in a project of carbohydrate chemistry with the financial support of Erasmus in the Professor Leino group. After that, she worked at the TU Dresden in Germany under the guidance of Professor Peter Metz, where she focused on the total synthesis of morphine alkaloids. In the spring of 2018, she joined the Grainger Group to continue her PhD research as a Marie-Curie Fellow. She loves modern art and enjoys swimming and badminton. She has a very lovely little cat called Kicia, which has been with her for over 14 years.

Funded by

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 765116.