Group shot circa August 2016.
From left to right: Jennifer Francis, Elena Colangelo, Dave Mason, Justine Le Tumelin, Sumaira Ashraf, Raphaël Lévy and Nuffield Students Jessica and Bibin.

Principal Investigator

Raphaël Lévy:

I obtained my PhD in physics at the University Louis Pasteur (France) working on polymer adsorption with the Atomic Force Microscope (2002). I moved to Liverpool for a post-doctoral fellowship with Dave Fernig and Mathias Brust where we designed peptides as capping agents for gold nanoparticles.

In 2006, I obtained a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship to develop nanoparticle-based imaging in living cells. The Fellowhship ended in 2011 and I am now a Senior Lecturer at the University of Liverpool. My teaching includes some lectures in Quantitative Biology I, i.e. basic mathematics for first year Biology students, and some teaching in Life301 (Advanced Skills in Biochemistry).

My research focuses on nanoparticles, their structure, and applications, in particular for biological imaging. My interests also extend to open science and the changes in modes of publishing. In the past few years, my involvement in the (continuing) stripy nanoparticles controversy has led me to realize how incredibly difficult it is to correct the scientific record.


Post-Doctoral Researchers

Sumaira Ashraf:

I obtained my undergraduate degree from the University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan where I was studying in the Institute of Chemistry. My PhD is from the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan with one year split research work in Philipps University of Marburg, Germany. The research was focused on the synthesis and self-assembly of metal nanoparticles/nanomaterials to fabricate nanostructures using various templates for a variety of applications especially in the field of bio-medicines and electronics.

After the completion of my PhD, I was appointed as Assistant professor in the Department of Metallurgy and Materials Engineering at the Pakistan Institute of Engineering and Applied Sciences (PIEAS), Nilore, Islamabad, Pakistan, where I had served for almost one year. After this, I undertook a postdoctoral position (Alexander von Humboldt fellowship) in the Biophotonics group at Philipps University of Marburg, Germany, working with Prof. Dr Wolfgang J Parak. My postdoctoral project was related to the synthesis of polyelectrolyte micro-capsules and checking the interaction of a variety of nano/micro materials with cell lines.

I joined the University of Liverpool to undertake a Marie Curie Fellowship in collaboration with Dr Raphaël Lévy. My project will investigate the development of multimodal preclinical imaging probes to evaluate the safety and efficacy of regenerative medicine therapies.


Marie Held:

After graduating from the Technical University of Ilmenau with a degree of Dipl.-Ing. (eq. MSc) in 2007, I completed my PhD studies at the University of Liverpool in BioNanoEngineering in 2011. During my PhD, I investigated the impact of purposefully designed artificial microconfined environments on the growth dynamics of filamentous fungi both on the hyphal and subcellular level combining microfabrication techniques with cell culturing and live cell imaging. From 2011 until 2014, I held a position as post doc at the University of Southampton in the Centre for Hybrid Biodevices. The position involved the fabrication of an integrated microfluidic system for the in situ study of primary and cell line epithelial cells.

In July 2014, I began my current post as Research Associate with the University of Liverpool under the supervision of Dr. Raphaël Lévy using and developing novel microscopy techniques as part of the UKRMP Safety and Efficacy hub. The specific goal is to explore the most suitable methodologies for the long-term tracking of exogenous, labelled cells within tissues in vitro opening avenues for in vivo cell tracking.


Graduate Students

Jennifer Francis:

After completing a Bachelor's degree in Biochemistry and Forensic Science at Liverpool John Moores University in 2013, I joined Professor David Fernig's research group as a Master of Research student in Advanced Biological Sciences at the University of Liverpool. Here, I investigated the synthesis of water-soluble quantum dots for use in biological applications.

Currently, I am undertaking a PhD CASE studentship in collaboration with Zeiss Microscopy, which is co-supervised by Dr Raphaël Lévy, Dr Violaine Sée, and Dr Daimark Bennett. I am interested in developing super-resolution optical fluctuation imaging (SOFI) microscopy to investigate the nanoscale localisation of nuclear proteins involved in the adaptation to hypoxia.


Jonathan Temple:

After completing a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at the University of Liverpool in 2015, I transferred onto an integrated Masters programme joining Professor Claire Eyers lab also at the University of Liverpool. Here I used ion mobility mass spectrometry to study the effects of point mutations and small molecule inhibitors on the size, shape and stability of Ephrin A3.

I am currently undertaking a PhD CASE studentship in collaboration with Aurelia Bioscience, which is co-supervised by Dr Raphaël Lévy, Dr Gary Allenby, Dr Violaine Sée and Dr Rachel Bearon. I am exploring new opportunities for growing and imaging cells in a 3D environment as well as studying the impact of these techniques on the biology of the cells.




Joan Comenge:

During his time in the Lévy Lab, Joan was instrumental in developing efficient nanoprobes for MultiSpectral Optoacoustic Tomography (MSOT). Using stem cells labelled with nanorods allowed non-invasive imaging and tracking of the cells inside a mouse for a considerable amount of time (details in this paper).

Dave Mason:

Dave joined Raphaël's group in 2014 on an MRC Next Generation Optical Imaging Initiative. In 2017, he took on a staff position with the Centre for Cell Imaging (CCI). He still retains strong ties with the group.

Lara Bogart:

Lara was employed on an EPSCR grant titled "Ultrastable targeted multifunctional hybrid nanomaterials for long-term stem cell tracking". In 2014 she took up a post-doctoral position at University College London.

Paul Free:

Paul was employed on a BBSRC Fellowship looking at the interaction and uptake of gold nanoparticles in cells, and their applications for single molecule imaging. Paul is now a scientist at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering in Singapore (A*STAR).

PhD Students

Elena Colangelo:

Elena undertook a joint PhD programme between the University of Liverpool and the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), Singapore.

Before graduating in 2016, her work focused on the experimental and theoretical basis of molecular organization of self-assembled monolayers of peptides on gold nanoparticles.

Changye Sun:

Changye completed his PhD co-supervised by Prof. David DG Fernig, and Raphaël, in November 2015. His PhD project aimed to study the diffusion of fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) in real extracellular matrix (ECM) of live and fixed fibroblasts using Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching (FRAP) and single molecule imaging.

Dan Nieves:

Dan completed his PhD co-supervised by Raphaël and Prof. Dave Fernig, funded by the Medical Research Council. During his studies, he built the second Photothermal Microscope and developed protocols for SPION labelling of stem cells. He staying in the lab for a short time as a PostDoc to continue this work.

Umbreen Shaheen:

Umbreen graduated in May 2012. Her thesis was titled "Delivery, interaction and fate of peptide-capped gold nanoparticles in mammalian cells.". Umbreen stayed in the lab for a short time employed on an MRC Next Generation Optical Imaging Initiative.

Chris Shaw:

Chris graduated in September 2011 and studied the "Structure and properties of ligand-capped gold nanoparticles." He now works for Nutricia.

Yann Cesbron:

Yann graduated in October 2010 after studying the "Intracellular delivery and fate of peptide-capped gold nanoparticles." He took up a PostDoc in Rennes at the Faculty of Medicine and is now in the group of Seamus Holden at Newcastle University

Nicholas Schaeffer:

Nicholas was co-supervised by Andrew Cooper and graduated in 2010 with a thesis titled "Polymer Routes Toward Designing Gold Nanostructures.". He undertook postdocs with Molly Stevens at Imperial College London, followed by Marie-Paule Pileni in Paris.