Chemical Biology Metal Catalysis

Our Aims

Generation, training and transfer of knowledge

Development of creative and groundbreaking
research at the interface of Chemistry, Biology and Medicine.

Education of researchers in order they become
future leaders of academic or industrial projects.

Transferring of knowledge to Society in order
to propel economical and social progress

European Research Council Santiago de Compostela University Campus Vida CIQUS - Centro Singular de Investigación en Química Biológica y Materiales Moleculares
Latest News
Media Library

Already available our first publication at ACS Omega

We are very pleased to announce our latest manuscript has been published at ACS Omega

Glad to announce our most recent publication at the ACS Omega journal, entitled "Rhodium(III)-Catalyzed Intramolecular Annulations of Acrylic and Benzoic Acids to Alkyness" and authored by D. F. Fernadez, N. Casanova, J. L. Mascareñas and M. Gulías, is already available.

Rh(III) catalysts can promote a formal (4 + 2) intramolecular oxidative annulation between acrylic or benzoic acid derivatives and alkynes. The reaction, which involves a C–H activation process, allows for a rapid assembly of appealing bicyclic pyran-2-ones and tricyclic isocoumarin derivatives in moderate to good yields. The α-pyrone moiety of the products provides for further manipulations to obtain relatively complex cyclic skeletons in a very simple manner.

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Our last publication at the J. Am. Chem. Soc. is on-line

This recent article at the Journal of the American Chemical Society is already available as a just accepted manuscript

We are very glad to announce the publication of our latest paper at the Journal of the American Chemical Society, entitled "Ruthenium-catalyzed Redox Isomerizations inside Living Cells", by C. Vidal, M. Tomás-Gamasa, A. Gutiérrez González and J. L. Mascareñas.
We have reported how tailored ruthenium(IV) complexes can catalyze the isomerization of allylic alcohols into saturated carbonyl derivatives under physiologically relevant conditions, and even inside living mammalian cells. The reaction, which involves ruthenium-hydride intermediates, is bioorthogonal and biocompatible, and can be used for the “in cellulo” generation of fluorescent and bioactive probes. Overall, our research reveals a novel metal-based tool for cellular intervention, and comes to fur-ther demonstrate the compatibility of organometallic mechanisms with the complex environment of cells.

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Our last publication at Chem. Sci. highlighted as 'Pick of the Week' is also selected for the 2019 Chem Sci HOT Article Collection

This article is part of the themed collections: '2019 Chemical Science HOT Article Collection' and '2019 ChemSci Pick of the Week Collection'

We are really pleased to announce our last paper in the Chemical Science journal has been selected by the Editorial Team as 'Pick of the Week' on the 23rd of January, and is part of the 2019 HOT article collection.

The publication, entitled "Hollow Nanoreactors for Pd-catalyzed Suzuki- Miyaura Couplings and O-Propargyl Cleavage Reactions in Bio-relevant Aqueous Media" by P. Destito, A. Sousa-Castillo, J. R. Couceiro, F. López, M. Angel Correa-Duarte and J. L. Mascareñas, describes the fabrication of hollow microspheres consisting of mesoporous silica nanoshells decorated with an inner layer of palladium nanoparticles, and their use as Pd-nanoreactors in aqueous media. These palladium-equipped capsules can be used to promote the uncaging of propargyl-protected phenols, as well as Suzuki-Miyaura cross-couplings, in water, and under physiologically compatible temperatures. Importantly, the depropargylation reaction can be accomplished in a bioorthogonal manner in presence of relatively high concentrations of biomolecular components, and even in the presence of mammalian cells.

Link to the manuscript:

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Congrats Paolo, and good luck in your new position

Paolo Destito has defended his PhD Thesis today, February the 27th

Paolo Destito has defended today his PhD Thesis, entitled "Transition-metal promoted bioorthogonal transformations in biological media" and supervised by Prof. Mascareñas and Dr. López.

It was a really successful defense at the Faculty of Chemistry (USC), getting the maximum qualification from the PhD committee.

Many congrats to you, Paolo!!

By the way, plenty of success in your new position too. Best of luck!!

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Synthetic models in Chemical Biology

Workshop on Nanomedicine 2012. Prof. Mascareñas, ERC - Advanced Grant METBIOCAT, explains his research lines in the chemical biology field.
DNA is the key macromolecule used by nature to store the genetic information, therefore containing all the instructions that control the day-to-day function of cells. As such, it has been a traditional target for the development of different type of drugs, particularly anticancer agents. These drugs include alkylating agents, like cis-platinum and derivatives, and non-covalent binders like the anthracyclines, which interact to DNA by intercalation between base pairs. There are other types of cytotoxic non-covalent DNA binders, like distamycin or propamidine, which interact to DNA by insertion in the minor groove.

We have been interested in this latter type of molecules, because they are sequence selective and therefore provide for molecular engineering of site-specific DNA-promoted processes. In particular, we have designed and synthesized a number of variants of propamidine that work as sequence specific DNA optical sensors, or as light-activated prodrugs.

Some of the knowledge acquired in the studies of light-promoted processes has been extended to area of DNA-protein interactions. In particular, we have developed a chemical approach to control the DNA interaction of synthetic mimics of transcription factors, and expect that the tactic can be used in the future to regulate processes of gene expression.
Part of our work in this area is also focused to the construction of optical sensors that can detect minute amounts of transcription factors considered as oncogenic biomarkers, like the bZIP protein Jun.

Meet our team

José Luis Mascareñas, PhD leads this team of researchers. Find out more about him and the rest of the team in our Group members section.

Group Members

Join Us

We are always looking forward to welcoming exceptional candidates into our research Group. Please visit our Opportunities section or send us your cv.


Living and working in
Santiago de Compostela

Are you new to the city and its University?
We have gathered some facts and figures you may find interesting.


Annual mean temperature. The humid oceanic climate guarantees mild weather throughout the year.


Students attend the University. With the city population around 100,000.


Year old University. Currently imparting more than 60 degrees.


Santiago is well connected, having its own international airport, train station, etc.


Amongst many awards, Santiago was declared World Heritage City by UNESCO in 1985.


Santiago de Compostela is the capital of Galicia de most Nortwestern region of Spain.


Public transport is available in order to get around the city, which is also conveniently located to visit other sites in Galicia.


Spanish and Galician are the two official languages of Galicia. Your work will be carried out in English.


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