Prof. Nicholas Turner

Deputy Director


We have 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. We are also interested in the application of directed evolution technologies for the development of biocatalysts with tailored functions. The use of biocatalysts (enzymes and engineered whole cells) in the manufacture of chemicals can offer major advantages in terms of economic and environmental sustainability. Compared to traditional chemical catalysts, enzymes generally have exquisite levels of chemo-, regio-, and enantioselectivity, in addition to high rates of turnover. Such properties are of great benefit to the pharmaceutical and fine chemical industry, and indeed biocatalysis is now finding broader application in other sectors, including agrochemicals, personal healthcare products, polymers and biofuels. The research interests of our group encompass a broad range of biocatalysts and particular emphasis has been placed on using directed evolution technologies to develop enzymes that have enhanced properties including broader substrate specificity, increased enantioselectivity and also enhanced stability when used on larger scale for preparative applications. We are particularly interested in the development of multi-enzyme and also chemo-enzymatic processes in which two or more bio-/chemo-catalysts are combined. In this context we are developing new tools and technologies for Synthetic Biology. Our work in this area has recently begun to yield major benefits, e.g. in the application of monoamine oxidases for the enantioselective desymmetrisation of a key building block for the synthesis of telaprevir (treatment for hepatitis C).


Industrial Biotechnology