Professor Christian Hartinger

Habilitation in Inorganic Chemistry (2009), Mag. rer. nat. (1999), Dr. rer. nat. (2001) fromt the University of Vienna, Austria


2016–, Professor at the University of Auckland (New Zealand)

2011–2015, Associate Professor at the University of Auckland (New Zealand)

2009–2011, Assistant/Associate Professor at the University of Vienna (Austria)

2006–2008, Erwin-Schrödinger-Fellow, EPFL (Switzerland)

1998–2006, Research/University Assistant, University of Vienna (Austria)

Research | Current

Recent research was focused on bioorganometallics with a particular interest in the synthesis of anticancer active mono-, di- and trinuclear compounds with (thio)pyr(id)onato ligands. These complexes were designed for exhibiting their antitumor activity in the tumor tissue (focusing on selective transport into the tumor) or to possess new modes of action (e.g., dinuclear Ru complexes with lower toxicity than Pt compounds and non-common DNA binding modes). We were the first who could demonstrate that the linkage of two Ru centers can result in improved anticancer activity, possibly by crosslinking biological macromolecules. The most active complex was up to 10-fold more active in resistant cancer cell lines than in the respective wild-type cells. These results indicate that the compounds might be an option to tackle the common problem of developed resistance of tumors, frequently occurring during chemotherapy. Furthermore, a recent study highlights the potential of Ru(arene) complexes modified with maleimide to react selectively with thiol-containing biomolecules.

In our group the development of new drug molecules is complemented by extensive bioanalytical studies to elucidate the mode of action of tumor-inhibiting metal complexes. Biophysical methods (separation methods, online and offline MS) have been developed and applied for studies e.g. on the Ru(III) bisindazole compound KP1019. Those experiments contributed to the selection of KP1019 for clinical development, being currently in clinical phase I/IIa trials in a modified formulation. Capillary electrophoresis hyphenated to inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (CE-ICP-MS) was used to show that a Ga-based drug candidate binds in human blood serum preferentially to transferrin, whereas Ru complexes are most often found mainly attached to human serum albumin (HSA). Application of modern mass spectrometry methods resulted for the first time in the binding site elucidation of a metal-based drug on proteins by employing top-down mass spectrometric approaches. The bioanalytical studies are rounded off by the introduction of new methods, such as the recently reported first-time coupling of microemulsion electrokinetic chromatography (MEEKC) to ICP-MS.

Teaching | Current

CHEM220 - structure and bonding

CHEM320 - bioinorganic chemistry

CHEM691 - coordination

CHEM720 - medicinal inorganic chemistry

CHEM740 - mass spectrometry and applications

CHEM793 - coordination

CHEM795 - ethics, publishing, citing, literature search

CHEM796 - coordination


2014, Co-chair ISBOMC 7, Vienna, Austria

2013, Visiting Professor at the University of Vienna, Austria

2011   Carl-Duisberg-Memorial Prize (German Chemical Society)

2010, Visiting Professor, Chimie ParisTech, France

2010   Innovative Teaching Award Bank Austria

2009   Best paper award in Applied Organometallic Chemistry

2006   Schrödinger Fellowship of the Austrian Science Fund

2005   Award of the “Theodor-Körner-Fonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaft und Kunst”

Areas of expertise

Medicinal Chemistry, Biological Inorganic Chemistry, Coordination and Organometallic Chemistry, Development of Anticancer Compounds, Bioanalytical Chemistry (Mass Spectrometry, Capillary Electrophoresis, Hyphenated Systems)

Committees/Professional groups/Services

2014, Co-chair ISBOMC 7, Vienna, Austria

2013–present, Editor of Metallodrugs

2013–present, Associate Editor of Frontiers in Inorganic Chemistry

2011–present, Management Committee Member COST CM1105 “Functional Metal Complexes that Bind to Biomolecules”

2010–2012, Management Committee Member COST CM0902 “Molecular Machineries for Ion Translocation Across Biomembranes”

2010–present, Global Journal of Inorganic Chemistry

2009–present, Pharmaceuticals, World Journal of Biological Chemistry

2007, Co-organizer COST WG meeting in Villars-sur-Ollons

2007, local organizing and scientific committee member of ICBIC13

2005, (Co-)Organizer of CESAR meeting on anticancer research

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Holtkamp, H., Grabmann, G., & Hartinger, C. G. (2016). Electrophoretic separation techniques and their hyphenation to mass spectrometry in biological inorganic chemistry. Electrophoresis, 37 (7-8), 959-972. 10.1002/elps.201500502
  • Kubanik, M., Holtkamp, H., Söhnel T, Jamieson, S. M. F., & Hartinger, C. G. (2015). Impact of the Halogen Substitution Pattern on the Biological Activity of Organoruthenium 8-Hydroxyquinoline Anticancer Agents. Organometallics, 34 (23), 5658-5668. 10.1021/acs.organomet.5b00868
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Stephen Jamieson, Tilo Sohnel
  • Babak, M. V., Plazuk, D., Meier, S. M., Arabshahi, H. J., Reynisson, J., Rychlik, B., ... Strobl, S. (2015). Half-Sandwich Ruthenium(II) Biotin Conjugates as Biological Vectors to Cancer Cells. Chemistry - A European Journal, 21 (13), 5110-5117. 10.1002/chem.201403974
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Johannes Reynisson
  • Babak, M. V., Meier, S. M., Huber, K. V. M., Reynisson, J., Legin, A. A., Jakupec, M. A., ... Bennett, K. L. (2015). Target profiling of an antimetastatic RAPTA agent by chemical proteomics: relevance to the mode of action. Chem. Sci, 6 (4), 2449-2456. 10.1039/C4SC03905J
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Johannes Reynisson
  • Meier, S. M., Novak, M. S., Kandioller, W., Jakupec, M. A., Roller, A., Keppler, B. K., & Hartinger, C. G. (2014). Aqueous chemistry and antiproliferative activity of a pyrone-based phosphoramidate Ru(arene) anticancer agent. Dalton Trans, 43 (26), 9851-9855. 10.1039/c4dt00569d
  • Meier, S. M., Babak, M. V., Keppler, B. K., & Hartinger, C. G. (2014). Efficiently detecting metallodrug-protein adducts: ion trap versus time-of-flight mass analyzers. ChemMedChem, 9 (7), 1351-1355. 10.1002/cmdc.201400020
  • Hartinger, C. G., Groessl, M., Meier, S. M., Casini, A., & Dyson, P. J. (2013). Application of mass spectrometric techniques to delineate the modes-of-action of anticancer metallodrugs. Chem Soc Rev, 42 (14), 6186-6199. 10.1039/c3cs35532b
  • Meier, S. M., Novak, M., Kandioller, W., Jakupec, M. A., Arion, V. B., Metzler-Nolte, N., ... Hartinger, C. G. (2013). Identification of the structural determinants for anticancer activity of a ruthenium arene peptide conjugate. Chemistry - A European Journal, 19 (28), 9297-9307. 10.1002/chem.201300889


Contact details

Primary location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
New Zealand

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