Dr Muhammad Hanif

Dr. rer. nat. (PhD, 2010) from the University of Vienna, Austria

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Senior Research Fellow


2019-present, Senior Research Fellow, the University of Auckland (New Zealand)

2015-2019, Research Fellow, the University of Auckland (New Zealand)

2013–2015, Erwin Schrödinger Fellow, University of Auckland (New Zealand)

2011-2013, Assistant Professor, COMSATS University Islamabad (Pakistan)

2007-2010, Research Assistant, University of Vienna (Austria)

Research | Current

My research interests are in synthetic inorganic chemistry at the interface with biology and medicine. The particular focus is on the design and development of metal complexes as anticancer agents and for catalysis in cells. These projects encompass a variety of metal ions as well as numerous carefully designed ligand systems. Moreover, a vast panoply of biophysical techniques and cellular analyses is used for a thorough understanding of their reactivity and modes of action.

Teaching | Current

I am currently contributing to teaching in the following courses:

  • CHEM 720 Advanced Inorganic Chemistry  
  • CHEM 100 Molecules that Changed the World 
  • CHEM 120 The Chemistry of the Material World
  • CHEM 251 Structure and Spectroscopy
  • CHEM 392 Issues in Drug Design and Development      
  • PHARMACY 211 Applied Science of Pharmacy    

In the past, I have contributed teaching in the following courses:                             

  • TFC CHEM 91F Foundation Chemistry 1 
  • CHEM 735 Advanced Medicinal Chemistry 


2019 Sir Charles Hercus Fellowship of the Health Research Council of New Zealand

2019 CLeaR Academic Development Bursary, the University of Auckland

2019 Contributed to the ChemComm-Emerging Investigators Issue

2013 Research Productivity Award by Pakistan Council of Sciences and Technology

2012 Erwin Schrödinger Fellowship of the Austrian Science Fund

2012  Outstanding Research Award for the best paper by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan

2010 Distinction in PhD, University of Vienna

2006 Doctoral Scholarship by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan

Areas of expertise

Medicinal Bioinorganic Chemistry, Coordination Chemistry, Synthetic Inorganic Chemistry and Organometallic Chemistry

Committees/Professional groups/Services

  • Member – Royal Society of Chemistry UK
  • Member  – Society of Biological Inorganic Chemistry
  • Member – New Zealand Institute of Chemistry
  • Affiliate Investigator – Maurice Wilkins Centre
  • Associate Editor – Frontiers in Chemistry (Inorganic Section) 
  • Editorial Board Member – Biomedicines
  • Editorial Board Member – Advances in Chemical Research

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Hanif, M., Arshad, J., Astin, J. W., Rana, Z., Zafar, A., Movassaghi, S., ... Reynisson, J. (2020). A Multitargeted Approach: Organorhodium Anticancer Agent Based on Vorinostat as a Potent Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor. Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English)10.1002/anie.202005758
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Tilo Söhnel, Christian Hartinger, Stephen Jamieson, Jonathan Astin, Euphemia Leung
  • Babak, M. V., Le Faouder, P., Trivelli, X., Venkatesan, G., Bezzubov, S. I., Kajjout, M., ... Vezin, H. (2020). Heteroleptic Ruthenium(II) Complexes with Bathophenanthroline and Bathophenanthroline Disulfonate Disodium Salt as Fluorescent Dyes for In-Gel Protein Staining. Inorganic chemistry, 59 (7), 4527-4535. 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.9b03679
  • Truong, D., Sullivan, M. P., Tong, K. K. H., Steel, T. R., Prause, A., Lovett, J. H., ... Ott, I. (2020). Potent Inhibition of Thioredoxin Reductase by the Rh Derivatives of Anticancer M(arene/Cp*)(NHC)Cl2 Complexes. Inorganic chemistry, 59 (5), 3281-3289. 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.9b03640
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Dianna Truong, Matthew Sullivan, David Goldstone, Stephen Jamieson, Christian Hartinger, Tilo Söhnel, Kelvin Tong
  • Rana, Z., Diermeier, S., Hanif, M., & Rosengren, R. J. (2020). Understanding Failure and Improving Treatment Using HDAC Inhibitors for Prostate Cancer. BIOMEDICINES, 8 (2)10.3390/biomedicines8020022
  • Mohabeer, P. K., Carr, B., Hanif, M., Hartinger, C., Groutso, T., Jelley, R. E., ... Blackman, A. G. (2020). Synthesis, structure and fluxionality of Co(III) complexes containing chelated sulfate. POLYHEDRON, 17610.1016/j.poly.2019.114303
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Christian Hartinger, Rebecca Jelley, Tilo Söhnel
  • Hanif, M., & Hartinger, C. G. (2020). From the hypothesis-driven development of organometallic anticancer drugs to new methods in mode of action studies. In P. J. Sadler, R. VanEldik (Eds.) (pp. 339-359). ELSEVIER ACADEMIC PRESS INC. 10.1016/bs.adioch.2019.10.007
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Christian Hartinger
  • Enyedy, E. A., MeszAros, J. P., Spengler, G., Hanif, M., & Hartinger, C. G. (2019). Comparative solution studies and cytotoxicity of gallium(III) and iron(III) complexes of 3-hydroxy-2(1H)-pyridinones. POLYHEDRON, 172, 141-147. 10.1016/j.poly.2019.04.010
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Christian Hartinger
  • Rabanzo-Castillo, K. M., Hanif, M., Söhnel T, & Leitao, E. M. (2019). Synthesis, characterisation and electronic properties of naphthalene bridged disilanes. Dalton transactions (Cambridge, England : 2003), 48 (37), 13971-13980. 10.1039/c9dt03058a
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Erin Leitao, Tilo Söhnel

Contact details

Primary office location

SCIENCE CENTRE 302 - Bldg 302
Level 10, Room 1033
New Zealand

Web links