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Professor Sumeet Mahajan MSc, MTech, PhD, FRSC

Professor of Molecular Biophotonics & Imaging, Head of Chemical Biology, Associate Director Institute for Life Sciences

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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 >105 peer reviewed publications, 6 patents and 2 book chapters.

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. In 2020, under his leadership Southampton was co-awarded an ambitious 5-year programme under EPSRC's Transformative Healthcare 2050 scheme for developing label-free chemical imaging approaches deep inside human tissues. He also leads a prestigious Prosperity Partnership award (2022-2027) funded by EPSRC and BBSRC and industrial partners (MSquared Life, Astra Zeneca and Dstl) to develop new chemical imaging technologies for 3D quantitative biology.

Awards and Recognition

Research interests

Molecular BioPhotonics & Imaging
The research in the group is highly interdisciplinary 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 sensing and imaging methods (label-free, fluorescence/confocal, Raman, electrochemical etc.) and apply combinations of these to understand biological and environmental phenomena as well as diagnosis, monitoring and screening tools for health and well-being.

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:

  • Musculoskeletal disease and regenerative medicine - Tracking stem cells, skeletal development
  • Neuroscience - Understanding neuronal dysfunction and early detection of neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s Disease
  • Infectious disease and anti-microbial resistance (AMR) – Early and rapid detection of infectious diseases, AMR and biofilms

Apart from the above main application areas we are always keen to collaborate to find 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 Konstantinos Bourdakos
  • Dr Simon Lane
  • Dr Anna Crisford
  • Dr Tomoko Takahashi (JSPS fellow)
  • Dr George Devitt
  • Dr Niall Hanrahan
  • James Read (PhD Student)
  • James Harrison (PhD Student)
  • Marzanna Szwaj (PhD Student)
  • Ysanne Pritchard (PhD Student)
  • Isabel Creith (PhD Student)
  • Hiroki Cook (PhD Student)
  • Jacob Kleboe (PhD Student)
  • Siddhi Chugh (PhD Student)

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 musculoskeletal diseases we work with researchers in the Institute of Developmental Sciences, in neurosciences we strongly collaborate with members of the Interdisciplinary Dementia and Ageing Centre (IDeAC) and neurosurgeons at University Hospital Southampton NHS Trust. For our work on infectious diseases we work with National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC) and with clinicians and academics in the Clinical and Experimental Sciences (CES) division in the Faculty of Medicine. 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.
  • Chair of Southampton Imaging leadership (joint UoS and UHS) group
  • Program coordination committee member of Masters in Biomedical Engineering.
  • Head of Chemical Biology, School of Chemistry. 
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Key Publications

    • Module Co-ordinator and lecturer NATS6008 Biomedical Spectroscopy & Imaging
    • Lecturer CHEM6147 Advanced Spectroscopy and Applications
    • Lecturer Phys6014 Nanoscience: technology and advanced materials
    • Lecturer ISVR6144 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering
    • Supervisor CHEM3012 Chemistry Research Project
    • Supervisor CHEM6090 Advanced Chemistry Research Project
    • Supervisor NATS3005 Research Project in the Natural Sciences


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

    Room Number : 85/2106

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