The joint directorship of SYNBIOCHEM (Scrutton, Takano and Turner) is exceptional, ensuring intellectual leadership and balance across all relevant areas of strategic and operational importance to realise the potential of SynBio in the fine and specialty chemical sectors.
Each Co-Director is responsible for leading in their particular areas of expertise to coordinate multidisciplinary teams and training programmes, industrial engagement with the chemicals industries and global networks and ensuring engagement with the wider UK, EU and global SynBio natural products communities.
Professor Nigel Scrutton – Director
Nigel Scrutton is the Director of the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB) and a leader in enzyme engineering and biocatalysis, and has major programmes in SynBio in relation to chemicals/fragrances production and a wealth of experience in strategic and operational planning of large multidisciplinary research programmes.
Appointed Director of the MIB in September 2010, Nigel is a Professor of Molecular Enzymology in the Faculty of Life Sciences and an EPSRC Research Fellow. Nigel received a first class degree in Biochemistry from the University of London, King’s College (1985), and his PhD (1988) and ScD (2003) degrees from the University of Cambridge. At Cambridge he held a Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Research Fellowship (1988-91), College Research Fellowship (1989-92) and a Royal Society University Research Fellowship (1991-1999). In 1995 he moved to the University of Leicester as Royal Society University Research Fellow where he became Lister Institute Research Professor of Biochemistry (1999-2004). He was appointed Professor of Molecular Enzymology at the University of Manchester in 2005), BBSRC Professorial Research Fellow (2006-2011) and Associate Dean for Research (2008). He is recipient of the Biochemical Society Colworth Medal, the Royal Society of Chemistry Chairman Medal, the RSC Rita and John Cornforth Award and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award. Nigel has research interests in the mechanisms and structures of enzyme systems, with particular emphasis on understanding the physical basis of biological catalysis. His work is set at the interface of chemistry, biology and physics and is focused on elucidating fundamental mechanisms of enzyme systems from the quantum to macromolecular levels. His discoveries include new modes of enzymatic H-transfer by quantum mechanical tunneling mechanisms, conformational control of biological electron transfer reactions and the rational design/redesign of protein systems to catalyse new chemical transformations. A major current drive is to understand the nature of the coupling of dynamics to reaction chemistry. The group also has major interests in the application of enzymes in biotechnology.
Professor Eriko Takano – Director
Prof. Eriko Takano has an internationally leading position in the field of small signalling molecules in Streptomyces coelicolor, the model organism of the major group of commercial antibiotic producers. She has been working in both industrial and academic Streptomyces antibiotic research for 26 years. Eriko studied pharmacy at Kitasato University, School of Pharmacy, Tokyo, Japan. After working as a researcher at the Department of Genetics of Meiji Seika Kaisha, Yokohama, Japan, for four years, she moved to the John Innes Center, Norwich, UK, where she obtained her PhD from the University of East Anglia in 1994 and worked as a postdoc in the Molecular Microbiology department until 2002. After three years as Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology / Biotechnology, University of Tübingen, Germany, she was appointed as a Rosalind Franklin Fellow in Microbial Physiology at the Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute (GBB), University of Groningen, The Netherlands in 2006 and as an Associate Professor in Synthetic Microbiology at 2010. Since September 2012 she is Professor of Synthetic Biology at the University of Manchester, Faculty of Life Sciences, Manchester Institute of Biotechnology. Areas of expertise of the Takano group include the synthetic biology of antibiotic production; bioinformatics software development for designing natural products producers (e.g. antiSMASH, MultiGeneBlast); untargeted metabolomics for chassis engineering in Streptomyces; and regulatory circuits engineering through signalling molecules and noncoding RNAs.
Professor Nick Turner – Director
Nick Turner is the Deputy Director of the MIB and Co-Director of SYNBIOCHEM. He is the Director of the Centre for Biocatalysis, Biotransformations and Biocatalytic Manufacture (www.coebio3.org), has leading expertise in biocatalysis for organic synthesis and is expert in protein redesign. He co-founded the spin out companies Ingenza Ltd (2003) and Discovery Biocatalysts (2012), and has strong inter-sectorial programmes in chemicals production with global industries/academic groups.
Professor of Chemical Biology in the School of Chemistry, Nick obtained his DPhil in 1985 with Professor Sir Jack Baldwin and from 1985-1987 was a Royal Society Junior Research Fellow, spending time at Harvard University with Professor George Whitesides. He was appointed lecturer in 1987 at Exeter University and moved to Edinburgh in 1995, initially as a Reader and subsequently Professor in 1998. In October 2004 he joined Manchester University as Professor of Chemical Biology. He is also a co-founder and Scientific Director of Ingenza (www.ingenza.com), a spin-out biocatalysis company based in Edinburgh. He is a member of the Editorial Board of Chemical Communications. Nick has research interests in the area of biocatalysis with particular emphasis on the discovery and development of novel enzyme catalysed reactions for applications in organic synthesis. His group are also interested in the application of directed evolution technologies for the development of biocatalysts with tailored functions.