Professor Zoe Pikramenou PhD, BSc, MRSC CChem

Proffessor Zoe Pikramenou FRSC, CChem, PhD, BSc

School of Chemistry
Professor of Inorganic Chemistry and Photophysics

Contact details

School of Chemistry
Haworth Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Zoe Pikramenou is a Professor of Inorganic Chemistry and Photophysics in the School of Chemistry leading a vibrant research group on luminescent metals in interdisciplinary projects with Dentistry, Cancer Sciences, Biosciences Environmental Sciences and Physics to address challenges in biomedical and environmental sciences.

She is co-Chief Editor of Frontiers in Chemistry, Nanoscience, Chair of the RSC Photochemistry and Photophysics group and member of the International Organising Committee, EuroBIC.

She has held positions as Director of Global Engagement in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences, leading strategic partnerships and collaborative engagement opportunities across Physical Sciences and Engineering, and School Athena SWAN lead, introducing activities to advance women’s careers in science. She also held appointments as external examiner in Inorganic Chemistry in undergraduate and postgraduate courses in UK institutions.

Zoe’s expertise lies on the synthesis and properties of photoactive lanthanide and transition metal complexes in supramolecular and nanoparticle designs for detection and imaging. In biomedical sciences the interests lie in using the metal signal to understand and track drug delivery in cells and tissues but also to use new platforms for therapy. In environmental science and diagnostics the sophisticated designs of metals can lead to sensitive detection of pollutants or other small molecules. Zoe’s research group has introduced new ligand designs for lanthanide complexes from polynuclear assemblies to nanoparticles as well as advancing nanoparticle probes for detection using luminescence signal from ruthenium and iridium probes on nanoparticles for imaging in cancer tissues and blood flows. Our press releases on luminescent nanoparticles have attracted wide interest from diagnostics to detection and therapy in Dentistry and Cardiovascular Imaging.

The research has been supported by EPSRC, MRC, BBSRC, The Leverhulme Trust, the Royal Society and EU grants including Marie Curie Research Training Networks and COST networking support.

The group’s research has been recognised with invitations to international leading conferences in Bioinorganic Chemistry, Materials, Nanomedicine. Zoe has also delivered several lectures and organised events for career development and student support in STEMM, presenting the view of career paths and balancing academic work with family demands.

Research webpages


  • PhD in Chemistry, Michigan State University, Michigan, USA
  • B.Sc. in Chemistry, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece


A graduate of University of Athens (NKUA), she obtained her PhD with Professor Dan Nocera at Michigan State University (currently at Harvard) supported with a scholarship of the Academy of Athens. She moved to Strasbourg in France in 1993 to work with Nobel prize winner Professor Jean Marie Lehn as a Marie Curie and Collège de France fellow.  She was appointed as a Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh in 1995 and then moved to University of Birmingham in 2000 where she went through the ranks to her current position. 

In recognition of her research contributions she has been invited as co-Chief Editor in Frontiers in Chemistry in Nanoscience and in Cancer Research UK strategy and research panel (2021). She is also a member of the EPSRC peer review College and served in panels since 1998. She was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship in 2012, and EPSRC discipline Hopping Award with Chemical Engineering (2011-07) and the Aventis Scientia Europea Prize for collaborative work with Physics and Biology (2000).

Honours and appointments

Co-Chief Editor of Frontiers in Chemistry, Nanoscience 2021
Chair, Photophysics and Photochemistry Group, Royal Society of Chemistry 2020
Co-Chair and Organiser, 14th European Conference on Biological Inorganic Chemistry, EuroBIC-14, Birmingham 2018
Associate Editor of Frontiers in Chemistry, Supramolecular Chemistry 2017 - 2021
Member of the International Organising Committee, EuroBIC 2014 - date
Elected Member, Photophysics and Photochemistry Group, Royal Society of Chemistry 2016 - 2020
Elected Member of the University Senate 2014 - 2018
External Inorganic Chemistry Examiner for Undergraduate Degree Programmes in Chemistry, University of York 2015 - 19
External Inorganic Chemistry Examiner for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Degree Programmes in Chemistry Nottingham Trent University 2014 - 18
Leverhulme Trust Research Fellow 2012 - 14
EPSRC Discipline Hopping Award with Chemical Engineering 2007-11
The Aventis Scientia Europea Prize, Aventis Foundation and French Academy of Sciences for collaborative work with Physics and Biology 2000


Teaching Programmes

  • Year 4 MSci level Chemistry "Luminescent supramolecular systems"
  • Year 3 MSci / BSc Chemistry "Chemistry of the f block"
  • Year 3  Mini Project  on “Lanthanide complexes”


  • Workshop on “Ethics in Research”

Postgraduate supervision

For opportunities to join the research group, please email Professor Zoe Pikramenou and also see postgraduate opportunities.

Opportunities for doctoral research in the Pikramenou group are shown below:
Luminescent nanoparticles in cancer diagnostics and imaging
Lanthanide complexes in detection of aromatic pollutants
Metal complexes and nanoparticles in photodynamic cancer therapy
Silica nanoparticles for detection and drug delivery
Iridium complexes in sensing and detection
Antibacterial and antibiotic delivery using nanoparticle probes


Research Themes

Our research involves the design of luminescent molecular and nanosized probes based on metals towards the development of new platforms for detection to tackle problems in biomedical and environmental sciences. We tune the photochemical properties of the metal to use new detection platforms for tracking drug delivery, sensing of small molecules but also phototherapy applications.

Our projects involve synthetic and coordination chemistry, photophysics and nanoscience moving from supramolecular design and recognition to nanostructures with interdisciplinary teams of collaborators: medical scientists, dentists, biochemists, physicists and engineers. The projects involve lanthanide and transition metal complexes with recognition sites designs to target biomolecules such as DNA or “key” analytes in environmental pollution or biological function. In some projects we employ nanoparticles as scaffolds to carry metal complexes and targeting groups in cells for multimodal imaging. We study their targeted delivery in cells using peptide and other biomolecular recognition motifs. We use luminescence microscopy techniques based on the characteristic luminescence lifetime signal. To target the design of new materials and optoelectronic devices we study the modification of surfaces with metal complexes.


Research group webpages.


For a full list of publications please see Zoe's Google Scholar Profile.

Selected publications

View all publications in research portal