Nicholas J TURNER

Nicholas John Turner – Curriculum vitae


School of Chemistry

University of Manchester

Manchester Institute of Biotechnology

131 Princess Street

Manchester M1 7DN, UK.


tel: + 44 161 306 5173

fax: + 44 161 275 1311


Date of Birth: 2 June 1960


Place of Birth: Orpington, Kent, U.K.


Professional Qualifications: MRSC CChem.


Present Position: (2004-): Professor of Chemical Biology 





1979-1982 University of Bristol. B.Sc. Hons Chemistry.

1982-1985 Dyson Perrins Laboratory, University of Oxford; D.Phil. supervisor Professor Sir J.E. Baldwin FRS.

Previous Positions:

1985-1987 Royal Society Junior Research Fellow (Foulerton Gift and Binmore Kenner). During 1985/86 at Dyson Perrins Laboratory, Oxford and 1986/87 at Department of Chemistry, Harvard University, USA with Professor George M. Whitesides.

1987-1995 Lecturer in Chemistry, University of Exeter.

1995-1998 Reader in Bio-Organic Chemistry, University of Edinburgh.

1998-2004 Professor of Chemical Biology, University of Edinburgh.


Awards and Indicators of Esteem:

1992 Royal Society of Chemistry Medal for Carbohydrate Chemistry.

1995 Pfizer Academic Award for Organic Chemistry.

1996 Royal Society of Chemistry Corday-Morgan Medal and Prize.

2003 Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Ingenza Ltd (

2004 International Biocat Award.

2005 - Consultant for AstraZeneca, UK.

2005 - Member of Scientific Advisory Board of Johnson Matthey Chiral Technologies.

2005 - Director of Centre of Excellence in Biocatalysis, Biotransformation and Biocatalytic Manufacturing (CoEBio3) (

2006 - Consultant for Lonza, Basel, Switzerland.

2007 - 2012 Member of Editorial Board of Chemical Communications.

2007 AZ/GSK/Pfizer UK Prize for Process Chemistry Research.

2007 Member of review panel for Research Institutes (CSIC) in Spain.

2007 Member of Scientific Advisory Board for ‘Emerging Science’ Programme at ANU, Canberra.

2008 Co-Chair of Biocatalysis Gordon Conference 2008, Rhode Island, USA.

2008 - 2011 Member of Scientific Advisory Board, K-Plus Biocatalysis Centre, Graz, Austria.

2008 - Member of Scientific Advisory Group of Institute for Process Research & Development (iPRD), Leeds University, UK.

2009 - 2010 Member of Scientific Advisory Group of Chemicals Northwest.

2009 Royal Society of Chemistry Industrial Organic Award.

2009 Member of review panel of Dutch National Catalysis Centres.

2010 - Member and Chair of Scientific Advisory Board of Amsterdam Institute for Molecules, Medicines and Systems (AIMMS).

2010 - Member of Academic Advisory Board of Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis.

2011 - Member and Chair of International Scientific Advisory Board for Austrian Centre for Industrial Biotechnology (ACIB).

2011 Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award.

2012 - Co-founder and Director of Discovery Biocatalysts (

2012 - Member of Scientific Advisory Board of Evolva, Basel, Switzerland.

2013 - Member of Scientific Advisory Board of Bactevo, Cambridge, UK.

2013 - Member of Scientific Advisory Board of Asymchem, Tianjin, China.

2013 - Consultant for Dr. Reddy’s Research Laboratories.

2014 Member of review committee for Agence d'Evaluation de la Recherche et des établissements d'Enseignement Supérieur, France.

2014 Member of Scientific Advisory Board of SSPC II, Dublin.

2014 Deputy Director Manchester Institute of Biotechnology

2015 Chair of ESBOC Symposium 2015.

2015 Co-Director of BBSRC SYNBIOCHEM Synthetic Biology Research Centre.

2015 University of Manchester Researcher of the Year Award.

2017 ERC Advanced Grant Fellowship 2017-2022

2017 RSC Organic Stereochemistry Award


External Examiner Duties: Currently External Examiner for University College Cork. Previously at Universities of University of Oxford (Part I/II) Durham, Birmingham, Leicester, Warwick, Leeds and Newcastle.



I began my independent academic career at the University of Exeter as a lecturer in Organic Chemistry in 1987. Since then I have published more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and 9 patents in high impact international journals (including Science, Nature Chemistry, Nature Chemical Biology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Angewandte Chemie, Chemical Communications). My publications are highly cited and have resulted in an h index of 50 (up from 46 in 2016 and 44 in 2015). My research is characterised by a desire to develop enzymes and whole cells as biocatalysts for synthetic organic processes. Our group has been in the vanguard of research into the application of directed evolution technologies in order to develop enzymes with tailored properties including broadened substrate specificity, enhanced selectivity (enantio-, chemo-, regio-) and improved thermostability and resistance to organic co-solvents. We have applied the principles of Darwinian evolution, through a combination of random mutagenesis coupled with selection and/or screening approaches, in the laboratory environment, thereby creating new enzymes and biocatalysts with superior properties compared to their wild-type counterparts. In addition to providing optimised biocatalysts, directed evolution also provides key insights into the relationship between protein sequence and function and hence provides insights into the mechanisms by which enzymes exert their exquisite control over substrate specificity and selectivity.

I have received a total of eight national and international awards which recognise the research we have published, namely the University of Manchester Research of the Year Award in 2015, a Wolfson Royal Society Research Merit Award 2011, the Royal Society of Chemistry Award for Industrial Organic Chemistry 2009 [awarded biennially], AZ/GSK/Pfizer UK Prize for Process Chemistry Research 2007, the International Biocat Award 2004, the Royal Society of Chemistry Corday Morgan Medal and Prize 1998 [awarded annually to a chemist under 42], the Pfizer Academic Award for Organic Chemistry 1995 [awarded annually to a young

European chemist] and the Royal Society of Chemistry Award for Carbohydrate Chemistry 1992 [awarded biennially].

In 2003 I co-founded the spin-out company Ingenza Ltd ( where I am Chief Scientific Officer. Ingenza currently employs 40 research scientists, many of whom are former PhD students and postdoctoral fellows from my group, and is one of the leading SMEs in the emerging area of synthetic biology. In 2012 I co-founded a second company Discovery Biocatalysts ( which manufactures and makes available novel biocatalysts for screening purposes on a non-for-profit basis.

In 2005 I was appointed as the first, and so far only, Director of the Centre of Excellence in Biocatalysis, Biotransformation and Biocatalytic Manufacturing (CoEBio3) ( CoEBio3 is recognised as one of the leading research organisations in the world dedicated to developing advanced biotechnologies for the chemical industry. It is an outward facing organisation which engages strongly with industry in order to facilitate uptake of industrial biotechnology by a broad range of the chemistry utilising industries including pharmaceutical, personal healthcare, agrochemical, fine chemical and energy companies. As Director I have been responsible for providing scientific leadership for the Centre, in particular determining the strategic direction of the research as well as recruiting industrial partners for collaborative projects. CoEBio3 has an industrial consortium of ca. 30 companies and is currently a participant in five EU FP7 funded biotechnology projects (ROBOX, BIOOX, KYROBIO, BIOINTENSE, P4FIFTY), one of which it manages (BIOOX). We also jointly manage the CHEM21 consortium ( with GSK which is funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI).

I am co-Director (with Profs Nigel Scrutton and Eriko Takano) of the recently established BBSRC-funded SYNBIOCHEM which is one of six Synthetic Biology Research Centres that have been set up in the UK. The focus of SYNBIOCHEM is on the development of tools, parts and chassis for the synthetic biology of fine chemicals using a design/build/test platform.

My international standing has been recognised by the appointment to a number of different advisory boards, committees and consultancies. I am a member of the following Scientific Advisory Boards; SSPC II (2014 -); Asymchem, Tianjin, China (2013 -); Bactevo, Cambridge (2013 -); Austrian Centre for Industrial Biotechnology (ACIB: Chair 2011 -); Evolva, Basel (2012 -); Amsterdam Institute for Molecules, Medicines and Systems (AIMMS: Chair 2010 -); Institute for Process Research & Development, Leeds University (iPRD: 2008 -); Johnson Matthey Chiral Technologies (2005 -). I am also a consultant for Lonza AG (2006 -), AstraZeneca (2005 -), Dr. Reddy’s Research Laboratories (2013 -) and Intrexon (2015 -).

I am a member of the Academic Advisory Board of Advanced Synthesis and Catalysis (2010 -). Previously I was a member of the following; Editorial Board of Chemical Communications (2007 -); Chemicals Northwest Advisory Group (2009 -), -); review panel for Research Institutes (CSIC) in Spain (2007) and also the Dutch National Catalysis Centres (2009); Scientific Advisory Board for ‘Emerging Science’ Programme at ANU, Canberra (2007). In 2008 I was elected Co-Chair of the Biocatalysis Gordon Conference 2008 held in Rhode Island, USA. I was also Chair of the ESBOC Meeting in 2015.

I participated in a weekend event organised by the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society. The aim of the event was to educate 6th form students and members of the public in the role of biotechnology in everyday life. We also regularly participate in the annual Manchester Science Festival which is a major outreach programme aimed at raising the awareness of the general public of current developments in science and technology

I have led a research group consisting of ca. 20-25 researchers during the past 25 years. Currently I am PI on 10 grants with a combined value of >£20M. In total I have raised over £40M in external (research council, EU, industrial and charity) funding in the last 20 years, the largest projects being CHEM21 funded by the IMI (£25M), a major collaboration with Shell (£2.5M) and a BBSRC sLoLa project in collaboration with GSK (£4.5M). We are also involved in a large collaboration with a group in Australia (CSIRO) examining the generation of molecular

machines based upon engineered biocatalysts.


Current Major Grants:


Project Title

Funding source    

Amount (£K)          


Role of the PI









2014 - 2019    


Catalysis Hub



2015 - 2019



EU – FP7









Rice Husk






EU – H2020