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Miss Irene Villares Ojea

Profile summary

Professional biography

Graduated with BSc(Hons) Chemistry at the University of Manchester and MSc Medicinal Chemistry at The Open University. Currently studying a PhD at The Open University in the design of bio-imaging tools and their application to studies of cellular processes.

Research interests

My main interest is the use of lanthanide ions to develop imaging tools for clinical diagnosis purposes. Lanthanide ions are very useful bio-imaging tools due to their fluorescent and magnetic properties. 

Their fluorescent properties allow their use as imaging probes that can be directed to specific sites within the cell to detect cellular processes that are indicative of disease. I am especially interested in the design of "fluorescent switches" that can act as selective imaging tools by only emitting light in diseased cells while remaining "switched off" in healthy cells.

The magnetic nature of some lanthanide ions also allows their use as contrast agents in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) which is a non-invasive imaging technique commonly used for the visualisation of different physiological processes. I am interested in developing novel lanthanide-based contrast agents with higher efficiency, and lower side effects suitable for in vivo use. 

My work is supervised by Dr. James I. Bruce and Dr. Jon Golding.

Impact and engagement

I am a STEM ambassador and I have delivered fun chemistry demonstration in schools and science exhibitions in museums to inspire, motivate and encourage young people’s learning and enjoyment of STEM subjects.

I am also a Brilliant Club tutor and deliver tutorials for kids in state schools to increase their chances of attending highly-selective universities.