Principle Investigators


Dr. John Valliant

Principle Investigator

Dr. Valliant is Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fusion Pharmaceuticals. John has been instrumental in securing both investment and scientific and medical collaborations with the industrial and academic partners of Fusion.

Prior to Fusion, Dr. Valliant founded the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization (CPDC), a radiopharmaceutical research and development centre of excellence established in 2008 through funding from the Federal and Provincial governments, industry and academic partners.


Dr. Saman Sadeghi

Principle Investigator

Dr. Sadeghi graduated from University of Toronto, Engineering Science program and received his Ph. D. from U of Toronto in analytical/physical chemistry as an NSERC scholar in 2008. He was a postdoctoral fellow at UCLA Crump institute 2009-2011. Prior to joining McMaster University, Dr. Sadeghi was an associate professor in the department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA, where he maintains an adjunct position. He has a background in managing a GMP compliant facility and research in radiochemistry, radiopharmaceutical development and validation, electrochemistry, microfluidics and instrumentation.

Dr. Sadeghi serves on peer review panels and has been a cofounder and an independent scientific and engineering consultant to several startups and small companies. He has previously served as the director of the Ahmanson Biomedical Cyclotron Facility at UCLA, which produces a wide variety of clinical position emission tomography tracers, and facilitates the clinical translation of successful research radiopharmaceuticals.


Graduate Students

We've asked some of the graduate students to share their biography and interests.


Kevin Wyszatko

PhD Student

Kevin completed his undergraduate degree in Chemistry at McMaster University before joining the program in 2017. He enjoys McMaster's Radiopharmaceuticals Program for its holistic approach to research and translation, where synthetic chemistry, protein biochemistry, radiochemistry and pharmaceutical biology combine to create novel radiopharmaceuticals for clinical translation.


Rowan Swann

PhD Student

Rowan received her undergraduate degree in Biopharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Ottawa in 2018 and gained experience in both government and academic laboratories through the universities CO-OP program. Upon graduating from uOttawa Rowan began studying at McMaster University to fulfill a Master's degree in Chemical Biology under the supervision of Dr. John Valliant and Dr. Sam Sedeghi with a focus on synthesizing molecularly targeted photoacoustic imaging agents. 2020 marked the beginning of her studies towards a PhD in Chemical Biology.


George Baidoo

PhD Student

George obtained his Master's degree in Radiopharmaceutics & PET Radiochemistry at King's College, London following his first degree in Pharmacy from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Nigeria. George brings significant industry experience in product management, commercialization and market development in emerging markets working for companies like Pfizer, and GE Healthcare. He loves watching football, and a lifetime student of philosophy.


Natalie Mercanti

M.Sc. Student

Natalie is pursuing her Master degree studying the anti-tumour effects of combination radiotherapy and immunotherapy. She completed her BSc in Chemistry at McMaster University where she did her undergrad thesis in the Valliant lab looking at diagnostic small molecules. After graduating in 2019, Natalie decided to stay in the lab, this time focusing her attention on the therapeutic aspect of radiochemistry.


Pamela Penawou

Master's Student

Pamela completed her undergraduate degree in Chemistry in 2018 at New York University before moving back to Nigeria to serve in the National Youth program for recent graduates. During the program, she worked as a laboratory assistant in an analytical chemistry lab and as a research assistant in the Centre for Applied Research on Separation Sciences.


Fikrican Dilek

PhD Student

Fikrican obtained his undergrad in Chemistry at Nigde University (Turkey) in 2013 and his master's degree in Izmir Institute of Technology in 2018. During his master's education, Ficrican synthesized small molecules drug candidates. In January 2021, he started his PhD at McMaster University under the supervision of Dr. John Valliant and Dr. Sam Sedeghi. Fikrican's thesis focuses on synthesizing New Tetrazine-Derived Near-Infrared Heptamethine Cyanine Photoacoustic Dyes.


Research Support Staff


Dr. Afaf Genady

Research Scientist

Afaf received her PhD degree in organic chemistry (2003) with Professor Detlef Gabel from the University of Bremen, Germany. From 2003 to 2006 she worked as a lecturer at Tanta University, Egypt. After a period of post-doctoral research work with Professor Hiroki Nakamura, Tokyo Institute of Technology, she moved back to the University of Tanta to start her independent academic career. In 2008 she became Associate Professor at Tanta University. Her research interests focused on the use of boron clusters as new entities for medical drugs and studied their interaction with biological systems to investigate their


Dr. Samantha Slikboer

Lead Photoacoustic and External Collaboration Coordinator

Samantha completed her undergrad in Chemistry at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University in 2014. Following her undergrad she started a masters with the Vaillant research group and in 2015 she transferred to her PhD. Her thesis focused on developing new multimodal imaging probes for combined optical and SPECT imaging of cancer. Her current role in the group is lead photoacoustic and external collaboration coordinator.

Photo Daniel Hernandez.jpg

Daniel Hernandez

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Chemistry

Dr. Daniel Hernández Valdés is a postdoctoral researcher at McMaster University under the supervision of Dr. Saman Sadeghi. Daniel studied Radiochemistry at the Higher Institute of Technologies and
Applied Sciences (InSTEC), University of Havana where he finished his master's degree in 2015. He received his PhD in Chemistry in 2020 from the University of Zurich. During this time, he worked under the supervision of Prof. Roger Alberto in the fundamental organometallic chemistry of technetium and rhenium and in artificial photosynthesis. His current research concerns topics related to new radiofluorination methods and the synthesis and evaluation of new potential radiopharmaceuticals of 99mTc.


Nancy Janzen

Research Coordinator

Nancy joined the research group in 2011, focusing on evaluating novel agents for biological application in vitro and in vivo; her role has expanded over the years to her current position as Research Coordinator where she continues to support our students both experimentally and administratively. Nancy received her Honours Bachelor degree in Microbiology from the University of Guelph then steered her studies towards Environmental Sciences with focus on Fish and Wildlife at Sir Sandford Fleming. Nancy enjoys her time off relaxing with her family in various activities including travel, hiking and games.


Featured Alumni


Dr. Paul Schaffer

Dr. Paul Schaffer graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1998 with a BSc in chemistry and biochemistry, followed by a Ph.D. in Chemistry from McMaster University in 2003. His doctoral work focused on the design and synthesis of technetium and rhenium chelates as potential new radioimaging or radiotherapy agents.  In the latter half of 2009, Dr. Schaffer returned to Canada to accept his new role as Deputy Head, and is now Head of the Life Sciences program at TRIUMF. He is responsible for maintaining TRIUMF’s medical isotope and radiotracer production programs in support of neurological and oncology research. 
In response to the 2007-2009 99mTc supply crises, Dr. Schaffer and his collaborators spearheaded a successful effort to establish proof of concept commercial-scale, non-reactor production of 99mTc. This effort saw four institutions come together with funding from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) to demonstrate direct production of this isotope using Canada’s existing medical cyclotron infrastructure. Dr. Schaffer is currently serving as founding CEO of ARTMS Products, Inc., a spin-off company looking to commercialize the technology developed through the NRCan-funded initiative. Under his direction, ARTMS was chosen as the winner of ‘Most Promising Pre-Commercial Technology’ at the 2017 BC Tech’s Technology Impact Awards.
For his leadership efforts, Dr. Schaffer was recognized by Business in Vancouver as one of British Columbia’s 2013 Top Forty under 40 individuals; recognizing him as an effective researcher with an ability to create teams that produce high-impact results on short time scales. The NRCan-ITAP team was also recently awarded the 2015 NSERC Brockhouse Prize for Interdisciplinary Research.
Dr. Schaffer continues to re-define the TRIUMF Life Sciences program by focusing on its core competencies and continues to connect the TRIUMF program with industrial and commercial interests. Dr. Schaffer is a leader, an entrepreneur and one of British Columbia's most promising talents.


Dr. Mohamed El-Zaria

Mohamed obtained his PhD in Germany at the Bremen University working in the development of boron-neutron capture cancer therapeutics. From 2005 to 2010, Mohamed worked as postdoctoral fellow/Scientific visiting professor in both Bremen University in Germany and at Gakushuin University in Tokyo, Japan (JSPS Fellow). Here, he managed research projects focused on the design and development of, and in management capacity for multiple pre-clinical studies of new drugs for cancer therapy. Currently, he is a part time researcher in the Valliant Group at McMaster University, working towards the discovery and development of novel molecular imaging compounds for use in pre-clinical drug studies for cancer diagnosis. Mohamed joined the Valliant group in 2010; until 2014 he worked as postdoctoral fellow focusing on radiopharmaceutical chemistry. From 2015 to 2016, he worked as an associate researcher with Dr. Humphrey Funge, at Saskatchewan University. In this position, his contributions were on the synthesis of various antibody-chelator conjugates, the development of immunoPET/SPECT imaging agents, and on novel techniques for bioconjugation of different radionuclides and fluorescent IR dyes to antibody formats. He also worked on molecular characterization (both in-vitro and in-vivo) techniques, and on microPET/SPECT/CT/optical imaging techniques.


Dr. Abdolreza Yazdani

My PhD research project in the Valliant group (2011-2017) centered on the synthesis, stability and photophysical properties of [2 + 1] Re(I) and Tc(I) complexes derived from bipyridine type ligands and a series of imidazole derivatives were investigated as a means of identifying complexes suitable for creating targeted isostructural optical/nuclear molecular imaging probes. I am interested in radiopharmaceutical chemistry and in particular, development and optimization of novel molecular imaging probes.

Dr. Stuart Mahoney

My post-doctoral research in the Valliant group (2013-14) centered on developing radiolabeling methods with a rapid and efficient purification protocol which complemented my synthetic methodology graduate work and prepared me to pursue a career in the radiopharmaceutical industry.

Over the past 6 years I have worked as a research scientist first with the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization and most recently with the for profit spin-off company Fusion Pharmaceuticals.  My research has focused primarily on discovering new intellectual property around bifunctional chelates and linkers while working closely within a multidisciplinary team to develop new targeted alpha radiotherapeutics.