Professor Michael John Hannon MA (Cantab.), PhD

Professor Michael Hannon

School of Chemistry
Professor of Chemical Biology
Director of the EPSRC Research & Training Centre in Physical Sciences for Health

Contact details

Research and Training Centre in Physical Sciences for Health
School of Chemistry
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Mike Hannon holds the Chair of Chemical Biology at the University of Birmingham and is the Director of the EPSRC Research and Training Centre in Physical Sciences for Health. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Institute of Advanced Study at TU Munich and the Scientific Advisory Board of Zukunftskolleg at University of Konstanz.

Mike's research lies at the interface between chemistry and the life sciences and is focused on metal complexes in biology and medicine as both imaging agents and therapeutics. He has expertise in synthetic chemistry (organic, supramolecular, nanoscale) and in applying biophysical methods to recognition of different DNA structures. In particular his work on the non-covalent recognition of DNA Y-shaped junctions has transformed the field of study and prompted a sudden and growing international activity in exploring the use of metallo-supramolecular structures in DNA recognition and as anti-cancer drugs. 

Mike is the immediate post President of The Society of Biological Inorganic Chemistry (SBIC), the international learned society. He chaired the prestigious Gordon Research Conference 'Metals in Medicine' in 2014 and was the chair of the 14th European conference on Biological Inorganic Chemistry which he hosted at the University of Birmingham in 2018.

Mike was Director of Birmingham's Institute of Advanced Studies from 2015-19, and co-organiser of the Intercontinental Academia ‘Laws Rigidity and Dynamics’ jointly with NTU Singapore in 2018-19.   (


  • Ph.D. Chemistry - University of Cambridge, 1994
  • B.A. Natural Sciences (first class) - University of Cambridge, 1990
  • M.A. (Cantab) - University of Cambridge, 1994


Mike Hannon qualified with a first class B.A. (Hons) in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge in 1990. He remained at Cambridge (90-93) to study for a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry with Professor Ed Constable and then was awarded a Royal Society ESEP Fellowship to work with Nobel laureate Professor Jean-Marie Lehn in Strasbourg (93-94). He returned to the UK in 1994 to take up a lectureship at the University of Warwick. He received two awards for teaching excellence, and was promoted to Professorship in 2005. He was appointed to the Chair of Chemical Biology at the University of Birmingham in Autumn 2005 and became Director of the PSIBS Biomedical Imaging Centre in 2008. 

Much of Mike’s research output appears in top chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie, and in 2011 the journal published an author profile about him, so you can learn more about his favourite football team and what he and his research team would do if he won the lottery.  


Teaching Programmes

  • MSci and BSc Chemistry

Postgraduate supervision

Opportunities are available for doctoral research students in the following areas:

  • Imaging Chemistry for Biology and Medicine
  • Molecular Probe Design
  • Bioinorganic Chemistry
  • Metal-based Drugs
  • DNA Recognition
  • Biological Chemistry and Chemical Biology
  • Supramolecular Chemistry
  • Physical Sciences of Imaging in the Biomedical Sciences

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas, please contact Professor Hannon or his PA on the contact details above.

For more information about the Sci-Phy-4-Health programme, please contact the Centre Administrator either via email: or on telephone number +44 (0) 121 414 8808.


A perfect fit for cancer treatment


A luminescent europium hairpin for DNA photosensing in the visible, based on trimetallic bis-intercalators.   Luca Scarpantonio, Mike Hannon & Zoe Pikramenou, Aug 2020, In : Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry. 209, 111119.

Assisted delivery of anti-tumour platinum using DNA-coiling gold nanoparticles bearing lumophores and intercalators: towards a new generation of multimodal nanocarriers with enhanced action.  Lucia Cardo, Sunil Claire, Nikolas Hodges, Anton Vladyka, Tim Albrecht, Luke Rochford, Zoe Pikramenou & Mike Hannon, 28 Oct 2019, In : Chemical Science. 10, 40, p. 9244-9256 13 p.

Iridium nanoparticles for multichannel luminescence lifetime imaging, mapping localization in live cancer cells, S.M. King, S. Claire, R.I. Teixeira, A.N. Dosumu, A.J. Carrod, H. Dehghani, M.J. Hannon, A.D. Ward, R. Bicknell, S.W. Botchway, N.J. Hodges, and Z. Pikramenou  J. Am. Chem.Soc., 2018, 140, 10242−10249. DOI:10.1021/jacs.8b05105

Metallo supramolecular cylinders inhibit HIV-1 TAR-TAT complex formation and viral replication in cellulo, L. Cardo, I. Nawroth, P.J. Cail, J.A. McKeating and M.J. Hannon, Scientific Reports, 2018, 8, Article number: 13342. DOI:10.1038/s41598-018-31513-3

Non-covalent Metallo-Drugs: Using shape to target DNA and RNA junctions and other nucleic acid structures, L. Cardo and M. J. Hannon, Metals in Life Sciences, Volume 18, Chapter 11, 2018, 303-324 (Ed. R. Sigel, H. Sigel, A. Sigel), De Gruyter

Iron (II) supramolecular helicates interfere with the HIV-1 Tat-TAR RNA interaction critical for viral replication, J. Malina, M. J. Hannon, V. Brabec, Scientific Reports, 2016, 6, Article Number: 29674  

Iron (II) Supramolecular Helicates Condense Plasmid DNA and Inhibit Vital DNA-related Enzymatic Activities, J. Malina, M. J. Hannon, V. Brabec, Chem. Eur. J., 2015, 21, 11189–95

Accessible synthetic probes to stain actin inside platelets and megakaryocytes employing Lifeact peptide, L. Cardo, S. G. Thomas, A. Mazharian, Z. Pikramenou, J.Z. Rappoport, M.J. Hannon and S.P. Watson ChemBioChem, 2015, 16, 1680 – 1688

Platelet actin nodules are podosome-like structures dependent on Wiskott - Aldrich syndrome protein and Arp2/3 complex, N.S. Poulter, A. Davies, A.Y.  Pollitt, M. Dessislava, G.B. Nash, M.J. Hannon, Z. Pikramenou, J.Z.  Rappoport, J.H. Hartwig, D.M. Owen, A.J. Thrasher, S.P. Watson, S.G. Thomas, Nature Communications, 2015, 6, 7254.

Metal interactions with nucleic acids, M.J.  Hannon and J Reedijk, Dalton Trans., 2015, 44, 3503-4


Published Patents

PCT/GB2008/003967   Dinuclear, Quadruply-stranded compounds comprising palladium or platinum (and their use to treat cancer, microbial and vira infections) M.J. Hannon,WIPO link (Published 4 June 2009)

PCT/GB2004/004227 Supramolecular compounds and their use as antitumour and anitviral agents, M.J.Hannon, A. Rodger, N.H. Mann. WIPO link (Published 14 April 2005)    (Granted GB2425122B)   

PCT/GB01/03739 Use of a porous carrier to carry drugs, R.M. Sambrook, W. Austin, M.R. Sambrook and M.J. Hannon. WIPO link (Granted)

View all publications in research portal