Dr Rama Suntharalingam
Associate Professor in Inorganic Chemistry
School/Department: Chemistry, School of
Telephone: +44 (0)116 294 4562
I obtained a MSci degree in Chemistry (First Class Honours) from Imperial College London in 2008. I carried out PhD research at Imperial College London (2008-2012) funded by an EPSRC-DTA Scholarship under the guidance of Prof. Ramon Vilar. After obtaining the Misrock Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Koch Institute of Integrative Cancer Research I joined Prof. Stephen Lippard’s research group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (2012-2014). I began independent research in the Department of Chemistry at King’s College London (KCL) after the award of the Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in 2014. Upon successful completion of the Leverhulme fellowship in 2017 I was appointed as a Lecturer in Bioinorganic Chemistry at KCL. In 2019 I moved to the University of Leicester as an Associate Professor in Inorganic Chemistry within the School of Chemistry.
The Suntharalingam research group aims to use the chemical and physical diversity offered by inorganic compounds to design and develop new generations of metallopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer and other diseases. The group also focuses on engineering new nano-material systems to deliver therapeutics to their site(s) of action.
I am/have been the PI or co-PI on a number of grants fellowships and studentships with a total value in excess of £1.2 million. Selected projects are listed below: EPSRC New Investigator Grant ‘Immuno-chemotherapeutic Metal Complexes for Cancer Stem Cell-Directed Therapy’ 2019-2022 (role: PI), Innovate UK-UKRI Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Food Attraction Ltd ‘To develop new production processes to extend the shelf-life of food products whilst maintaining product integrity’ 2021-2023 (role: co-PI), Rosetrees Trust 'Immuno-chemotherapeutic pro-drugs for cancer stem cell focused therapy' 2021-2022 (role: PI), Bone Cancer Research Trust 'Bone-seeking metal-based drugs to overcome chemotherapy-resistant osteosarcoma sub-populations' 2021-2022 (role: PI).
Metallopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer
X-ray structure of tetranuclear copper(II) complex.
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a distinct population of tumour cells that have the ability to self-renew, differentiate, and form metastatic tumours. CSCs effectively evade conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy as these treatments specifically target fast growing cancer cells, and CSCs, due to their stem cell-like properties, divide more slowly. After surviving treatment, CSCs are able to regenerate the original tumour and/or produce invasive cancer cells that are able to colonise distant organs. For these reasons, CSCs are widely thought to be responsible for cancer relapse. Therefore, to provide a durable response and prevent tumour recurrence, chemotherapeutics must have the ability to remove the entire population of cancer cells, including CSCs. Therapeutic strategies capable of selectively killing CSCs and disrupting the microenvironments (niches) supporting these cells are the focus of several research programmes. Potential CSC therapeutic targets such as cell surface markers and various deregulated signalling pathways have been identified, but there is still no clinically approved drug that specifically kills CSCs. Many academia- and pharmaceutical-led studies aimed at developing chemical or biological anti-CSC agents are ongoing. Our group aims to harness the diversity and versatility offered by metals to develop inorganic compounds capable of potently and selectively killing CSCs (over bulk cancer cells and normal non-proliferating cells).
Mammosphere, artificial organoids to study breast cancer.
More generally, our group aims to use the structural, optical, redox, magnetic, and catalytic diversity offered by metal-containing small molecules to design and develop new generations of metallopharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancer as well as other diseases. The group also focuses on engineering new nano-material systems to deliver therapeutics to their site(s) of action.
I have published 57 peer-reviewed papers in top-flight international journals (over 3800 citations, Scopus) and 32 independently as corresponding and last author. My current h-index is 27 (Scopus, WoS). I have also written 4 commissioned book chapters.
Top 10 Selected Publications:
Xiao Z, Johnson A, Singh K, Suntharalingam K*, "The Discrete Breast Cancer Stem Cell Mammosphere Activity of Group 10-Bis(azadiphosphine) Metal Complexes" Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2021, 60, 6704-6709.
Robin P, Singh K, Suntharalingam K*, "Gallium(III)-polypyridyl complexes as anti-osteosarcoma stem cell agents" Chemical Communications, 2020, 56, 1509-1512.
Eskandari A, Kundu A, Ghosh S, Suntharalingam K*, "A Triangular Platinum(II) Multinuclear Complex with Cytotoxicity Towards Breast Cancer Stem Cells" Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2019, 58, 12059-12064.
Eskandari A, Suntharalingam K*, "A reactive oxygen species-generating, cancer stem cell-potent manganese(II) complex and its encapsulation into polymeric nanoparticles" Chemical Science, 2019, 10, 7792-7800.
Laws K, Bineva-Todd G, Eskandari A, Lu C, O'Reilly N, Suntharalingam K*, "A Copper(II)-Phenanthroline Metallopeptide that Targets and Disrupts Mitochondrial Function in Breast Cancer Stem Cells" Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2018 57, 287-291.
Boodram NJ, Mcgregor IJ, Bruno PM, Hemann MT, Suntharalingam K*, "Breast Cancer Stem Cell Potent Copper(II)-Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug Complexes" Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2016, 55, 2845-2850.
Suntharalingam K, Awuah SG, Bruno PM, Johnstone TC, Wang F, Lin W, Zheng Y, Page JE, Hemann MT, Lippard SJ, "Necroptosis-Inducing Rhenium(V) Oxo Complexes" Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2015, 137, 2967-2974.
Suntharalingam K, Lin W, Johnstone TC, Bruno PM, Zheng Y, Hemann MT, Lippard SJ, "A Breast Cancer Stem Cell-Selective, Mammospheres-Potent Osmium(VI) Nitrido Complex" Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2014, 136, 14413-14416.
Suntharalingam K, Johnstone TC, Bruno PM, Lin W, Hemann MT, Lippard SJ, "Bidentate Ligands on Osmium(VI) Nitrido Complexes Control Intracellular Targeting and Cell Death Pathways" Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2013, 135, 14060-14063.
Xiao Z, Passeri G, Northcote-Smith J, Singh K, Suntharalingam K*, "Osteosarcoma stem cell potent gallium(III)-polypyridyl complexes bearing diflunisal" Chemistry - A European Journal, 2021, 27, 13846-13854.
Bioinorganic Chemistry, Inorganic Chemistry, Chemical Biology, Cancer Biology, Nanotechnology, Synthetic Chemistry, Immunotherapy, Stem Cells.
Chemistry BSc and MChem degrees Modules: General Chemistry (CH1200), Advanced Inorganic Chemistry (CH3202 DLI), Bioinorganic Chemistry (CH4208 Module Leader).
Press and media
Drug discovery, Cancer, Immunotherapy, Nanotechnology.
2020: Inorganic Biochemistry Discussion Group Investigator Award (Royal Society of Chemistry)
2018: Rising Star in Coordination Chemistry Award Lecture (International Conference in Coordination Chemistry Committee)
2016: 175 Faces of Chemistry (Royal Society of Chemistry)
2014: Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship (Leverhulme Trust)
2014: Dalton Young Researchers Award (Royal Society of Chemistry)
2014: Imperial College London Junior Research Fellowship (declined)
2012: Misrock Postdoctoral Fellowship (Misrock Foundation)
2012: Irish Research Council for Science Engineering and Technology Postdoctoral Fellowship (declined)
2009: Imperial College London-University of Hong Kong PhD Travelling Scholarship
2008: DTA-EPSRC PhD Scholarship
2008: HVA Briscoe Prize for Excellence in Inorganic Chemistry
2008: Enovik-Degussa Prize MSci Presentation Prize
2007: GlaxoSmithkline Beecham Pharmaceuticals Prize in Practical Inorganic Chemistry
2007: Nuffield Foundation Undergraduate Research Bursary
Department talks: The Francis Crick Institute University College London Imperial College London Trinity College Dublin Ruhr-Universität Bochum IIT Kanpur Universities of Sheffield Newcastle Bath Birmingham and Hull.
I have also given several invited lectures at national and international conferences such as the Inorganic Biochemistry Discussion Group Meeting Chemistry Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine Symposium Sir Geoffrey Wilkinson Dalton Poster Symposium International Conference on Coordination Chemistry and the European Biological Inorganic Chemistry Conference.
Bioinorganic Chemistry, Chemical Biology, Cancer, Nanotechnology, Synthetic Chemistry, Stem Cells.
MSci (Imperial College London)
PhD (Imperial College London)
Postdoctoral Misrock Fellowship (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research)
PGCAPHE (King's College London)