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Professor Sumeet Mahajan MSc, MTech, PhD, FRSC

Professor of Molecular Biophotonics & Imaging, Head of Chemical Biology

Professor Sumeet Mahajan's photo

Prof Sumeet Mahajan is a Professor in Molecular Biophotonics & Imaging in Chemistry with a joint appointment in the Institute for Life Sciences at the University of Southampton. His group works at the life science interface. The overarching aim of the research in his group is to develop new spectroscopy and imaging techniques and apply them to extract chemical information from biological systems to understand disease processes for early, faster or more sensitive healthcare diagnostics.



Education and Professional experience

He has a diverse background and a range of professional experiences spanning disciplines which has shaped the current exciting interdisciplinary research activity in his group. He has published >92 papers, has 5 patents and book.

He majored in Chemistry after an integrated natural sciences and engineering Masters degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur in 1998 and thereafter worked as a Scientist in Defence R&D Organization for 5 years developing analytical methods for environmental monitoring, process control and chemical sensors.

Subsequent to this industrial experience he did a Masters in Biomedical Engineering and worked on electrochemical conducting polymer sensors and actuators. His doctoral work was on electrodeposited nanostructures and their applications in optics and DNA detection with Prof. Phil Bartlett, FRS at the University of Southampton. As a postdoc he researched photonic applications of nanomaterials and nanospectroscopic techniques in the Nanophotonics Centre at the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge with Prof. Jeremy Baumberg, FRS.

In 2010 after being awarded an EPSRC fellowship he setup his independent program in the area of ‘Biospectroscopy – spectroscopy inside living cells’ under the aegis of the ‘Physics of Medicine’ initiative at Cambridge. Since 2012 he leads his group at Southampton consisting of chemists, physicists, biologists and engineers conducting research at the interface of nanotechnology, spectroscopy, imaging and biomedicine. In 2015 he was awarded one of the prestigious European Research Council (ERC) grants to carry out frontier research on the development of next generation chemical imaging techniques for biomedical applications. Recently, under his leadership Southampton has been co-awarded an ambition programme under EPSRC's Transformative Healthcare 2050 scheme for developing label-free chemical imaging approaches deep inside human tissues. 

Awards and Recognition

Research interests

Molecular BioPhotonics & Imaging
The research in the group is highly inter-disciplinary at the interface of physical sciences & engineering with biology & medicine. The central theme of our research is the development of photonics and nanotechnology for their application to the life sciences. Thus we do spectroscopy and imaging, fabricate nanomaterials, build measurement setups (optical/microscopic), develop methods (label-free, fluorescence/confocal, Raman, electrochemical etc.) and apply combinations of these to understand biological phenomena as well as to develop medical diagnostics.

Our areas of expertise are:
Raman and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy
Molecular and chemical imaging which includes label-free techniques such as coherent Raman, second harmonic and multiphoton fluorescence microscopy
Fabrication and characterisation of metallic nanomaterials for plasmonics

Main application areas:
Neuroscience - Understanding neuronal dysfunction and early detection of neurodegenerative diseases
Pulmonary diseases - Understanding metabolic processes and identifying spectral markers of fibrotic disease
Regenerative medicine - Tracking stem cells, skeletal development

Apart from the above main application areas we work on a number of others in clinical and biological applications of the techniques we develop.  If you are interested in working with us (MRes/MPhil/PhD) please get in touch. 

Our current group comprises of the following members:

Dr Konstaninos Bourdakos

Dr Simon Lane

Dr Anna Crisford

Dr George Devitt

Niall Hanrahan (started PhD 09/2016)

Peter Johnson (started PhD 09/2016)

Adam Lister (started PhD 09/2016)

George Devitt

Eva Ruiz Ortega (started PhD 09/2016)

James Read (started PhD 09/2017)

James Harrison (started PhD 09/2017)

Marzanna Szwaj (started PhD 09/2017)

Aikta Sharma (started PhD 09/2017)

Hiroki Cook (started PhD 09/2020)

Our collaborators:

Collaboration forms an integral part of our research philosophy. We collaborate with biomedical scientists, clinicians for applications but also with engineers and physicists for advancing the techniques we develop.

For applications in neurosciences we strongly collaborate with members of the Southampton Neuroscience group (SoNG) and neurosurgeons at Southampton General Hospital. For our work on pulmonary diseases we work with clinicians and academics in the Clinical and Experimental Sciences (CES) division in the Faculty of Medicine. The regenerative medicine work goes on in collaboration with the Centre for Human Development, Stem Cells and Regeneration. For development of technologies and to advance their clinical applications we work with a number of scientists in the Opto-electronics Research Centre (ORC) and members of the Zepler Institute.

Research group

Chemical Biology, Diagnostics and Therapeutics

Affiliate research group

Institute of Life Sciences

Research project(s)

Mahajan: Multimodal Label-Free Imaging for Stem Cell Plasticity and Skeletal Regeneration

Mahajan: Next Generation Label-Free Chemical Nanoscopy for Biomedical Applications

Mahajan: Tracking molecules inside cells using surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy

Label-free spectroscopy for diagnosing and monitoring AD

Spectral signatures for disease-associated protein aggregates.

Deep Tissue Chemically Specific Theranostic Imaging for Cancer and Musculoskeletal Diseases

Associate Director and Steering Group member, Institute for Life Sciences.

Life Sciences Academic Theme Lead for Biophotonics and Imaging.

Program coordination committee member of Masters in Biomedical Engineering.

Head of Chemical Biology, School of Chemistry.


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Key Publications


Book Chapter



Module Co-ordinator NATS 6008 Biomedical Spectroscopy & Imaging.

Lecturer CHEM 6147 Advanced Spectroscopy and Applications.

Lecturer CHEM 3049 Advanced Practical Chemistry.

Supervisor CHEM 3012 Chemistry Research Project.

Supervisor CHEM 6090 Advanced Chemistry Research Project.

Lecturer ISVR 6144 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering.

Assessor MEDI 6219 Translational Medicine.

Supervisor NATS 3005 Research Project in the Natural Sciences.

Professor Sumeet Mahajan
Institute of Life Sciences University of Southampton Highfield Southampton SO17 1BJ

Room Number NNN: 85/2106

Professor Sumeet Mahajan's personal home page
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