Dr Maria (Masha)
Babak obtained her M.Sc. in chemistry from Higher
Chemical College of the Russian Academy of Sciences
(2010) in Moscow, where she worked on transition
metal organometallic chemistry, mentored by
Prof. Dmitry S. Perekalin. She completed her
Ph.D in bioinorganic chemistry at the University of
Vienna (2014), mentored by
Prof. Bernhard K. Keppler and
Prof. Christian G. Hartinger. In 2015-2020 Dr
Babak worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at
National University of Singapore, mentored by
Prof. Wee Han Ang, where she developed a true
passion for drug discovery and drug target
identification. In 2019 Dr Babak joined the High
Impact Cancer Research Program at Harvard Medical
School in Boston. In November 2020, she was
appointed as an assistant professor at City
University of Hong Kong.
Dr Babak’s research
interests lie at the interface of chemistry, biology
and medicine and focus on the discovery and
preclinical development of anticancer drugs for
resistant and aggressive cancers with limited
treatment options, e.g. brain metastases. The
anticancer activity of small molecules,
nanoparticles or bioactive materials is tested in
cancer cell lines and their in vivo efficacy is
verified in various animal models of primary tumours
and metastases. Dr. Babak’s research group uses
proteomic and transcriptomic profiling to unravel
the mechanism of action of the drug candidates and
performs target validation by functional tests and
histology. The lead drug candidates are subsequently
tested in patient-derived organoids or xenografts.
- M.J.R. Tham, M.V.
Babak,* W.H. Ang.* PlatinER: A Highly Potent
Anticancer Platinum(II) complex that Induces
Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress-Driven Immunogenic
Cell Death, Angewandte Chemie Int. Ed., 59 (43),
19070-19078, 2020 [featured as a frontispiece]
- G. Kim, H.L. Tan, R. Sundar, B. Lieske, C.E.
Chee, J. Ho, A. Shabbir, M.V. Babak, W.H. Ang,
B.C. Goh, W.P. Yong, L. Wang, J.B. So*,
PIPAC-OX: A Phase I study of Oxaliplatin-based
Pressurized Intraperitoneal Aerosol Chemotherapy
(PIPAC) in Patients with Peritoneal Metastases,
Clinical Cancer Research, in press.
- M. V. Babak, M. R. Zalutsky, I. V.
Balyasnikova.* Heterogeneity and Vascular
Permeability of Breast Cancer Brain Metastases,
Cancer Letters, 489 (1), 174-181, 2020
- M. V. Babak, Y. Zhi, B. Czarny, T.B. Toh, L.
Hooi, E. K.-H. Chow, W.H. Ang,* D. Gibson,* G.
Pastorin.* Dual-targeting Dual-action Platinum
(IV) Platform for Enhanced Anticancer Activity
and Reduced Nephrotoxicity, Angewandte Chemie
Int. Ed., 58, 1-7, 2019 [Very Important Paper,
featured in Straits Times and Channel News Asia]
- K. Ohui, E. Afanasenko, F. Bacher, R. L. X.
Ting, A. Zafar, O. Dömötör, D. Darvasiova, É. A.
Enyedy, A. Popović-Bijelić, J. Reynisson, P.
Rapta, M. V. Babak,* G. Pastorin, V. B. Arion.*
New Water-Soluble Copper(II) Complexes with
Morpholine-Thiosemicarbazone Hybrids: Insights
into the Anticancer and Antibacterial Mode of
Action, Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 62(2),
- M. V. Babak,* M. Pfaffeneder-Kmen, S. M.
Meier-Menches, M. S. Legina, S. Theiner, C.
Licona, C. Orvain, M. Hejl, M. Hanif, M. A.
Jacupec, B. K. Keppler, C. Gaiddon, C. G.
Hartinger.* Rollover Cyclometalated Bipyridine
Platinum Complexes as Potent Anticancer Agents:
Impact of the Ancillary Ligands on the Mode of
Action, Inorganic Chemistry, 57(5), 2851-2864,
- A. Sirbu, O. Palamarciuc, M. V. Babak,* J.
M. Lim, K. Ohui, E. A. Enyedy, S. Shova, D.
Darvasiova, P. Rapta, W. H. Ang,* V. B. Arion.*
Copper(II) Thiosemicarbazone Complexes Induce
Marked ROS Accumulation and Promote
Nrf2-mediated Antioxidant Response in Highly
Resistant Breast Cancer Cells, Dalton
Transactions, 46, 3833-3847, 2017 [inside cover
- M. S. Benjamin, M. V. Babak, C. G.
Hartinger,* Paul J. Dyson.* The Development of
RAPTA-compounds in the Treatment of Tumors,
Coordination Chemistry Reviews, 306 (Part 1),
M. V. Babak, S. M. Meier, K. V. Huber, J.
Reynisson, A. A. Legin, M. A. Jacupec, A.
Roller, A. Stukalov, M. Gridling, K. L. Bennett,
P. J. Dyson, G. Superti-Furga, B. K. Keppler, C.
G. Hartinger*, Target Profiling of an
Antimetastatic RAPTA Agent by Chemical
Proteomics: Relevance to the Mode of Action,
Chemical Science, 6(4), 2449-2456, 2015
M. V. Babak, D. Plazuk, S. M. Meier, J. H.
Arabschahi, J. Reynisson, B. Rychlik, A. Blauz,
K. Szulc, M. Hanif, S. Strobl, B. K. Keppler, C.
G. Hartinger,* Half-Sandwich Ruthenium(II)
Biotin-Conjugates as Biological Vectors to
Cancer Cells, Chemistry – A European Journal,
21(13), 5110-5117, 2015