Centre for Inflammation Research

Professor Marc Vendrell

Marc Vendrell's lab studies dynamic activatable fluorophores for real-time imaging of key molecular events in cancer and inflammation.

Professor Marc Vendrell

Chair of Translational Chemistry and Biomedical Imaging

  • Centre for Inflammation Research

Contact details

Group Members

  • Nicole Barth - OPTIMA CDT PhD student co-supervised with Ian Dransfield (email)
  • Sam Benson - Medical Research Scotland PhD student (email)
  • Marco Bertolini - Early Stage Researcher (email)
  • Cecilia Boz - OPTIMA CDT PhD student co-supervised with Nik Hirani
  • Fabio De Moliner - Post-doctoral research associate (email)
  • Doireann Gordon - DTP Precision Medicine co-supervised with Gwo-tzer Ho
  • Lorena Mendive-Tapia - Post-doctoral research associate (email)
  • Evita Ning - OPTIMA CDT PhD student co-supervised with Karen Faulds (email)
  • Abigail Reese - PhD Student co-supervised with Henry McSorley
  • Jamie Scott - OPTIMA CDT PhD student (Scottish Funding Council) (email)
  • Emily Thompson - PhD Student co-supervised with Gwo-tzer Ho

  • Clara Vergez - OPTIMA CDT PhD student co-supervised with Marc Dweck

  • Jinling Wang - PhD student

  • Kelly Wood - OPTIMA SOFI PhD student co-supervised with Mathew Horrocks


Optical imaging enables the acquisition of molecular information from biological systems in situ and in real time. My lab works on the development of dynamic activatable fluorophores as novel chemical tools to address fundamental biological questions and translate them to clinical research. Our group combines expertise in peptide and organic chemistry, cell imaging, molecular biology and fluorescence spectroscopy, and we collaborate with biologists, immunologists and clinicians in a highly interdisciplinary environment.

Research Overview

The aim of our research is to develop dynamic activatable fluorophores (DYNAFLUORS) as enabling chemical tools to interrogate key events associated to cancer and inflammation. We generate our DYNAFLUORS through a multidisciplinary approach that involves organic and peptide chemistry, cell biology, high-resolution imaging and medicine. DYNAFLUORS are excellent optical probes because their fluorescent signal is triggered only after they interact with target molecules (e.g. proteins, enzymes) or in specific microenvironments (eg organelles, pH gradients). Our approach leads to high signal-to-noise ratios with increased sensitivity, which enables their use in small concentrations reducing any potential adverse effects and facilitating clinical translation.

Here there are some examples of our DYNAFLUORS:

PhagoGreen, an activatable cell-permeable probe for imaging phagocytic macrophages in vivo (Reproduced from J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 16018-21).


Time-lapse movie showing the phagosomal localization of PhagoGreen in transgenic zebrafish with mCherry-labeled macrophages.


Time-lapse movie of an actively engulfing macrophage, where the mature phagosome is brightly green fluorescent while the newly formed phagosome is devoid of green fluorescence.


The Trp-BODIPY amino acid enables fluorogenic labelling of peptides for enhanced live-cell imaging.

Time-lapse high-resolution imaging of Aspergillus fumigatus cells
Time-lapse high-resolution imaging of Aspergillus fumigatus cells upon incubation with a cell membrane counterstain (red) and a Trp-BODIPY-labelled peptide (green) for 0 min (i), 1 min (ii), 3 min (iii) and 10 min (iv).

The following PDF provides a brief visual summary of this group’s current research.


You can view a full catalogue of graphical research summaries for each group in the Centre for Inflammation Research by visiting our Research page.

Visit CIR’s Research page

Biographical Profile

Marc graduated in Chemistry at the University of Barcelona in 2007. He then joined the Singapore Bioimaging Consortium to work with Young-Tae Chang in synthetic fluorophores for non-invasive optical imaging. In 2012 he started his independent career as MRC Academic Fellow at the University of Edinburgh with the vision to translate fluorescent probes to the clinic. He is a Lecturer in Biomedical Imaging and his main research interest is the development of activatable fluorophores for imaging cancer and inflammation. He has over 50 publications in chemical biology and imaging, including eight international patents. His research has been recognised with several awards: SEQT Young Investigator Award (2007), SBIC Chairman's Prize (2010) and the Marie Curie CIG (2013).

Honours and Awards

  • 2002: PhD Studentship (Spanish Government)
  • 2005: PhD International Exchange Studentship (Spanish Government)
  • 2007: SEQT XIII Young Investigator Award 2010: SBIC Chairman's Prize
  • 2012: MRC Academic Fellowship 2013: Marie Curie Fellowship
  • 2016: ChemComm Emerging Investigator 2017: ERC Consolidator Grant
  • 2017: Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • 2018: Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice (PgCAP)

Other Responsibilities

  • Independent reviewer for >20 journals from the Royal Society of Chemistry, American Chemical Society, Wiley-WCH, Bentham Science, Springer, Elsevier and Nature Publishing Group (2010-present)
  • Lecturer in the School of Chemistry at UoE (course: Biosensors) (2013-present)
  • Lecturer in the College of Medicine (course: MSc in Inflammation) (2014-present)
  • Academic Contributor to UoE MSc in Preclinical Imaging (2013-present)
  • Named Investigator of the EPSRC/MRC CDT Programme (2014-present)
  • Editorial Board: Frontiers in Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Nature Publishing Group (2014-present)
  • Guest Editor: Combinatorial Chemistry & High-throughput Screening (2015)
  • Category Reviewer and Session Chair (European Molecular Imaging Conferences) (2016-present)
  • Chair of 'Bioorthogonal and Bioresponsive, a RSC Symposium' (2017)
  • Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Biotech Inspiralia (2017-present)
  • Member of the Editorial Board of the journal Methods and Protocols (2017-present)


  • Hira Ale (Research assistant 2014): Research assistant, King's College London
  • Alejandro Jose (MSc student 2014): Medical student, University of St Andrews
  • Nicola Kielland (Visiting postdoc 2014): Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Barcelona
  • Lorena Mendive-Tapia (Visiting PhD student 2015): PhD student, University of Barcelona
  • Can Zhao (PhD student 2012-2015): Research Associate, University of Manchester
  • Thalia Perez-Suarez (MSc student 2015): Medical student
  • Ryan Treadwell (BSc student 2016)
  • Aaron King (MSc student 2016)
  • Daniel Tritton (MSc student 2016)
  • Antonio Delgado (Visiting PhD student 2016)
  • Claudia Garcia-Guzman (PhD student 2013-2017)
  • Emma Alexander (MSc student 2017)
  • Vivian Ho (MSc student 2017)
  • Yi Xin Tan (BSc student 2017)
  • Zhigao Yi (Visiting PhD student 2018)
  • Zhi Ming Cheng (Visiting PhD student 2018)
  • Ramon Subiros-Funosas (Postdoc 2015-2018)

Public Engagement

  • Marie Curie Ambassador (2013-present)
  • Organisation of CIR activities at the Edinburgh International Science Festival (2014-present)
  • Member of the CIR Public Engagement and Communication Committee (2015-present)
  • STEM East Scotland Ambassador (2015-present)


Sources of Funding

More information on funding at Marc Vendrell's Research Explorer profile.