Group Leader

Prof. Nicholas Turner FRS

I obtained my 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. I 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 I moved to Manchester University as Professor of Chemical Biology and Director of CoEBio3. I co-founded Ingenza Ltd, a spin-out from The University of Edinburgh and I’mco-director of SYNBIOCHEM. I have co-ordinated large consortia projects including sLoLa, CHEM21 and BIOOX. Recently, I was awarded the ACS Catalysis Lectureship (2018) and the RSC Organic Stereochemistry Award (2017). I have over 30 years of expertise in the use of enzymes as biocatalysts for organic synthesis and have been at the forefront of work internationally on the directed evolution of enzymes as applied biocatalysts. In 2020 I became a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Project Manager

Ian Rowles

I hold a first degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Wales, Bangor and a PhD in Chemical Biology from the University of Manchester.  

Upon completion of my PhD I worked as Research Team leader from 2008 to 2010 for CoEBio3, working on the internal R&D programmes. Then from 2010 to 2012 as an EPSRC Knowledge Transfer Fellow in Biocatalysis for the University of Manchester, conducting contract research for industry and developing biocatalytic processes from lab scale to multi-kilo quantities. 

During my Knowledge Transfer Fellowship I received training to become Project Manager for CoEBio3 and has worked across multiple collaborative, industry facing projects. As CoEBio3 Project Manager I have oversight for a wide ranging portfolio of projects. The highlights being a BBSRC sLoLa project in collaboration with GSK, Network Manager of BIOCATNET, a BBSRC Network in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy, and most recently securing and setting up a new prestigious EPSRC Prosperity Partnership to fund the Centre for Biocatalytic Manufacture of New Modalities.  This new 5 year project is jointly funded by AstraZeneca and supported by Prozomix Ltd and will initially run from 2018 to 2023.

Outside of work I enjoy photography and motorsport, and can often be found working on and maintaining my own track car.

Research Technician

Ulrike Klemstein

Growing up in a rural, agricultural setting in Germany pointed me early into the direction of Biology. I received my degree as research technician in 2006 in the laboratory of Prof Jens Rettig (Physiology) at the University of Homburg. After this I moved on to work in Biochemistry and molecular biology with Prof Richard Zimmermann. In 2008 I changed to work in Helmholtz Zentrum Munich and was involved in high throughput production of knockout mice. 2009 I arrived in Manchester and started working with Dr. Gino Poulin.  His research interest focused on genetics using C. elegans as a model organism. Since 2013 I am working with Prof Nick Turner where my duties include lab management and side projects in molecular biology. My hobbies are gardening, baking, board games and scrambling.

Research Technician

Ivelina Valeva

I graduated with a First-Class Degree BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry from the University of Salford, Manchester. During this time I developed my knowledge and skills in techniques such as Microscopy, Spectroscopy and Spectrometry, Chromatography and Molecular Biology. My final year project was focused on investigating the innate immune system response in the nematode C. elegans using bacteria such as E. coli and Staph. aureus.

Once I completed my University course, I spend over 3 years working as an Analytical Chemist in a busy fast-paced laboratory in Manchester, where I learned to work in accordance with GLP and GMP. I performed a variety of client specific tests, followed established protocols and analysed samples using HPLC, UPLC and GC. I was involved in method and instrument validations, reviews of chromatography data and troubleshooting HPLC and UPLC instruments. Finally, I completed a training qualification (PGCE) in teaching secondary and college level science.

In my spare time, I enjoy playing drums and learning new songs. My favourite outdoor activities are hiking and travelling.

BBSRC Discovery Fellow

Will Birmingham

After completing my BS degree in Chemistry at Wake Forest University in 2008, I attended Vanderbilt University for my PhD in Biochemistry under the supervision of Prof. Brian Bachmann, working on the bioretrosynthetic construction of a non-natural nucleoside analogue biosynthetic pathway. I began postdoctoral research with Prof. Turner in 2014 focusing on the engineering and optimization of galactose oxidase for alcohol oxidation as part of the EU funded BIOOX project, and have now moved to working with reductive aminases in BIO-H-BORROW. Outside of work, I enjoy coffee, traveling, hiking, American football and playing badminton, football and board games.

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Sasha Derrington

I completed my undergraduate degree in biochemistry at The University of Sussex, carrying out a summer research project funded by the Wellcome Trust and final year project in a structural biology lab. Following this I was then awarded a place on the Wellcome Trust programme titled “Molecular basis of biological mechanisms” in The Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology at The University of Leeds, during which I carried out rotation projects in molecular biology and enzymology, dynamic force spectroscopy and working with membrane proteins. My main PhD project finally focused on investigating the structure and dynamics of nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs), gaining experience in protein structure determination using multidimensional NMR spectroscopy. I currently work on carboxylic acid reductases, including the discovery, characterisation and application of CAR enzymes. When not working I enjoy spending time with my family.

Postdoctoral Research Associate

William Finnigan

I received my PhD in 2016, having worked in the groups of Jennifer Littlechild and Nicholas Harmer at the University of Exeter.  Nicholas Turner was actually my external examiner.  In Exeter I investigated the use of the thermophile Thermus thermophilus as a host organism for whole-cell biocatalysis, and the use of mathematical modelling for the optimization of multi-enzyme systems.  Following my PhD, I moved to the University of Manchester where I initially worked on the production of recombinant spider silk in the Takano group as part of the synbiochem center.  In 2019 I joined the Turner group, where I am exploring the potential of digital technologies to speed up research and development in biocatalysis.  Outside of work I enjoy cats, video games, home-automation and running.

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Grayson Ford

I graduated from Cardiff University in 2018 with a BSc in Chemistry and 2019 with an MSc in Catalysis. I completed my PhD at University of Manchester in Prof. Sabine Flitsch’s lab where I was developing biocatalytic cascade reactions for the synthesis of chiral amine scaffolds. I started in the Turner group as a PDRA in February 2023 and I am working on engineering enzymes for the production of pharmaceuticals compounds in collaboration with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. 

Outside of work I enjoy exercising, hikes, spending time with my family and friends, world of warcraft and walking my dog. 

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Bethan Jones

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Georgia Harris

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Charlotte Morrill

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Lucian Pirvu

I completed my MChem degree in Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry at The University of Manchester in 2015. During this time I gained research experience in the area of synthetic organic semiconductors in the group of Prof Stephen Yeates and co-supervised by Dr. Peter Quayle. I then started a PhD in supramolecular chemistry in the group of Prof David Leigh at The University of Manchester. Here my research was in molecular topology with a focus on the development of novel interlocked molecular architectures by template coordination with lanthanide ions. After my PhD I remained for a brief postdoctoral position in the Leigh group to help further develop the chemistry carried out during my doctoral studies. 

In 2021 I joined the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology as a PDRA in the group of Prof Nicholas Turner. Currently, my research work targets the application of enzymatic cascades towards the synthesis of pharmaceutically relevant compounds.

In my spare time I enjoy cycling, swimming and going to the gym.


Postdoctoral Research Associate

Lucy Ward

I graduated from Newcastle University in 2018 with a BSc in biochemistry. Whilst studying for my degree I also spent a year on industrial placement at Prozomix Ltd working on the large-scale production of commercial enzymes and the metagenome-mining of novel aldo-keto reductases. I completed my PhD at the University of Liverpool in Dr Andrew Carnell’s group where I was researching the use of carboxyl methyltransferases to generate sustainable bioplastic precursors from bio-derived dicarboxylic acids. I started in the Turner group as a PDRA in August 2022 and I am working on identifying enzymes for the biocatalytic synthesis of pharmaceutical targets in collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb.

Outside of work I enjoy going out for food, watching reality TV and spending time with my family and friends.

PhD Candidate

Ruth Bradshaw (Tilly)

PhD Candidate

Tabea Gerlach

I am from a small town near Düsseldorf, Germany and obtained a Chemistry Bachelor’s degree from the University of Düsseldorf. During my final year research project, I worked on multi-component reactions towards merocyanines and cyanines.
I then took a gap year where I worked at Qiagen in Hilden GmbH as part of the GMP team and undertook a placement at the Bayer AG research centre in Wuppertal. I continued my studies at the University of Würzburg and obtained a Chemistry Master’s degree with the focus on medicinal, organic and physical chemistry. As part of my degree, I completed an Erasmus placement with Dr Roger Whitehead at The University of Manchester where I worked on the synthesis and biological evaluation of Incarviditone analogues. During the research project of my Master’s, I carried out the synthesis of functionalised perylene bisimides and the characterisation of their supramolecular properties.
My PhD project focusses on the chemo-enzymatic synthesis of amine-containing privileged motifs via the enzymatic cascade of amine oxidase and imine reductase as reported by our group.
Outside of work, I enjoy cooking and baking, going out for food and musicals and aerial arts on the silks. 

PhD Candidate

Bethany Hogg

I studied an integrated masters in Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Manchester. In my third year group project I carried out a linear 7-step synthesis of the natural product 4-indole Incarviditone under Dr Roger Whitehead and spent my masters project with the Turner-Flitsch group engineering P450-TT for the regioselective hydroxylation of decanoic acid.

Now I am on an industrial prosperity partnership with AstraZeneca and Prozomix – using halogenases, dehalogenases and epoxide hydrolases for the formation of small molecule drug candidates.

Outside of my studies I love sports – competing in swimming and triathlon to a high level and attempting different running events. I also climb, play the piano, listen to copious amounts of music and (occasionally) DJ.

PhD Candidate

Anya Miletic

PhD Candidate

Arnau Rue Casamajo

I was born in Catalonia, in a small city near to Barcelona. I carried out my BSc in Biotechnology at my hometown university (University of Lleida). One year after, I completed my MSc in Molecular Biotechnology at the University of Barcelona. Finally, I went to the University of Manchester to join Nick Turner’s group as a PhD candidate under the Prosperity Partnership with AstraZeneca and Prozomix.

During my BSc last year, I did an internship in the MIB under the guidance of Dr Fabio Parmeggiani, working on the synthesis of APIs using phenylalanine ammonia lyases, amino acid deaminases and transaminases.

During my PhD I will be working with imine reductases (IREDs) and reductive aminases (RedAms), especially in the regio- and enantioselective reductive amination of diamines with aldehydes. Out of science, my interests lie in football (huge Barça fan), politics, travelling and music.

PhD Candidate

Matthew Willmott

I studied for an integrated Masters degree in chemistry at the University of Sheffield, during which I developed an interest in biological chemistry. For my masters project I worked under the supervision of Dr Timothy Craggs developing a method for short-range smFRET.

I am part of the prosperity partnership and my project is in the area of nucleotide synthesis. In particular I am working on creating an enzymatic cascade for the synthesis of locked nucleic acids, a key chemical modification to antisense oligonucleotides.

When I am not in the lab I enjoy climbing, playing the guitar and being told that I look like Harry Potter.

Visiting Student

Feifei Chen

I obtained my undergraduate degreeof Biotechnologyin Soochow University(Suzhou, China)  in June 2013. After this I moved to East China University of Science and Technology (Shanghai, China) to start my postgraduate study on biocatalysis under the supervision of Prof Jian-He Xu. In 2017, I was awarded a scholarship by China Scholarship Council to study in Manchester as a joint PhD student under the supervision of Prof Nicholas J. Turner, working on developing amine dehydrogenases for the synthesis of chiral amino alcohols. In my spare time I like playing basketball, listening to music and walking for sightseeing.

Former PhD Candidate

Scott France

I completed my MChem in Chemistry with Study in Industry at the University of Manchester in 2012, during which I carried out a placement year at AstraZencea, Macclesfield, UK. I commenced my PhD studies in the Turner group in 2013, investigating imine reductase and reductive aminase biocatalysts for synthetic applications as well as developing biocatalytic cascades. My PhD was an Industrial CASE studentship with Pfizer and enabled me to spend a 3-month placement at the Pfizer laboratories in Sandwich, UK, investigating Pfizer proprietary biocatalysts for industrial application. My interests lie in cascade biocatalysis and the benefits and value that this can provide, particularly in an industrial setting, as well as the development of biocatalysis from lab- to plant-scale operation within the pharmaceutical sector. I am currently employed as a Senior Scientist at Pfizer working in the Groton Labs, Connecticut, USA in a team that accelerates and supports medicinal chemistry projects by implementing biocatalytic processes early  into synthetic routes. Since moving to the USA, I have tried out various sports including snowboarding and ad rock climbing but my passion remains figure skating and I now have the luxury of ice dancing with a former Team USA skater.

Former PhD Candidate

Michele Tavanti

I completed my Master’s Degree in Industrial Biotechnology at the University of Padova in 2015 before beginning my doctoral studies in Manchester. I am working on P450 enzymes with the aim of discovering, characterizing, engineering and applying these powerful enzymes for chemical synthesis. During my PhD, I have spent 2 weeks in the Structural Biology group of Professor Andrea Mattevi in Pavia and one month in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering in Copenhagen with Professor John Woodley. Free time? Tuscany, rivers of wine, coffee, sports, peanut butter and rock music.

Former PhD Candidate

Matthew Thompson

I obtained my MChem from Manchester in 2014, final year project with Dr Lu Shin Wong working in organic photochemistry. I stayed in Manchester to complete my PhD in the Turner lab as part of the Centre of Excellence in Biocatalysts, Biotransformations and Biocatalytic Manufacture (CoEBio3). During my PhD on hydrogen-borrowing amination of alcohols I had the opportunity to develop skills and collaborations across numerous areas of biocatalysis. Following the completion of my PhD at the end of 2017 I have moved to Stockholm, Sweden as a researcher for EnginZyme a start-up (and one of the collaborators I met during my PhD) developing immobilised enzymes for industrial applications. In my spare time I enjoy drinking coffee (Fika), cycling and cooking.

Former PhD Candidate

Jin (Frank) Xu

Education 2006-2010 BSc, Shanghai Normal University, 2011-2012 MSc, University of Manchester, 2013-2017, PhD Supervised by Professor Nicholas Turner, University of Manchester.

Particular scientific interest/s Transaminase, Biocatalytic synthesis of heteroaromatics

Hobbies or interests: Snowboarding, Photography, Travelling, Diving

Executive Assistant

Paula Tipton

It was 12thSeptember 1996 when I first started working at UMIST (UMIST merged with Manchester Victoria University and became known as The University of Manchester). It was shortly after the merger in 2004 that I began working on the CoEBio3 Project for Professor Stan Roberts. Stan became the Centre Director at its launch in 2005. In 2006 Stan’s job was done – he stood down and handed over the reins to Nick Turner. For me there have been many changes over the years during which I have been blessed with happy, supportive colleagues not just in my immediate environment but across the University and Industry. It has been a pleasure to watch new students grow in confidence, complete their studies and succeed in their chosen careers. I retire at the end of 2018 and I will miss the varied characters of the Turner/Flitsch Group and the camaraderie of the CoEBio3 Team. I hope my successor enjoys it too.

Former PhD Candidate

Nicholas Weise

I joined the group shortly after completing a BSc (Hons) in Molecular Biology at the University of Manchester – 2 weeks before graduating in fact! My PhD research focussed on the use of ammonia lyase and aminomutase enzymes for enantio- and regio- selective C-N bond formation. Following this I undertook a post-doctoral contract jointly supervised by Professors Nicholas Turner and Sabine Flitsch funded by the European Union, Innovative Medicines Initiative and BBSRC Networks in Industrial Biotechnology. I am currently a Lecturer in the School of Chemistry at the University of Manchester, teaching at the interface of organic chemistry and biomolecular sciences.

Throughout my time in the Turner Lab, I have been provided the freedom and support to pursue many aspects of academic life alongside scientific research. This has enabled me to incorporate aspects of higher education, enhancing of the student experience and public engagement with research into my work. I believe this fantastic working environment has allowed me to develop significantly, for example as a Visiting Fellow at the Open University, Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Member of the Teaching Committee and Deputy Director for Social Responsibility within my department.

Aside from science, I enjoy teaching and supporting the development of others, as well as playing the clarinet in the Manchester Wind Orchestra and staying active through trampolining and trampoline coaching.

Project manager

Mark Corbett

I was Scientific Project Manager with CoEBio3 from 2013-2018, before leaving to take the role of Programme Manager at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in 2019.

I hold a first degree in Biochemistry and Biological & Medicinal Chemistry with Law from Keele University, and a PhD in Molecular Cell Biology from the University of Sheffield.

Before taking on a management role, I worked as a postdoctoral research associate with CoEBio3 at the University of Manchester for four years, collaborating on complex, multi-centre research projects. My research was around biocatalytic routes to access renewable feedstocks, firstly in partnership with Shell Global Solutions International B.V., and then as part of the International Flagship Cluster on “Biotechnological solutions to Australia’s transport energy and greenhouse gas challenges” funded by CSIRO.

Highlights of my time in the group include managing the EU FP7 projects BIONEXGEN and BIOOX, and BIOCATNET, a BBRSC Network in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB). I have managed many other projects during his time with group, including commercialisation of research outputs and industrial research contracts. As a key academic lead for the SynBioChem centre, I managed Dstl-funded synthetic biology for materials research. I was part of a group of academics and research managers driving development of the MIB’s Industrial Biotechnology for Advanced Materials theme, helping to grow an emerging UK and international community of researchers and industrialists working in this area.

Through my work as Network Manager of BIOCATNET, I developed an interest in UK policy and industrial strategy. I was a member of the commissioning board for a report on the UK industrial biotechnology landscape, “Developing a Strategy for Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy in the UK”.  This report was the starting point for a series of stakeholder consultations, engaging with industry, academia, NGOs, and UK and regional government departments and bodies. This work culminated in the publication of the Industrial Biotechnology Leadership Forum’s National “Industrial Biotechnology Strategy to 2030”, which I co-authored with Dr. Jen Vanderhoven of Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, where I am now employed.

Outside of work, I am an avid connoisseur of whisky and absurd miscellany, an enthusiastic fan of England Rugby Union and regular attendee of Twickenham Stadium.

Visiting Academic

Peiyuan Yao

I gained my undergraduate degree in Nankai University, and working on the synthesis of o-hydroxyaryl-substitutedN-heterocyclic carbene and ferrocene derivatives with Prof Baiquan Wang. After this I moved to the Tianjian University to work with Prof Kang Zhao and Prof Richard P. Hsung on the synthesis of mycophenolic acid and 2-amido-indoles via ynamides. During my doctoral period, I went to GSK in the United States as a visitor to study the new drug development for one year. After I graduated, I started a business with my supervisor for two years. Then I joined in the group of Dunming Zhu and Qiaqing Wu in the Tianjin Institute of Industrial Biotechnology Chinese Academy of Sciences and my research interests range from discovery of novel industrial enzymes to understanding of biocatalytic reaction mechanisms, and the integration of biocatalysis into complex organic synthesis. In 2018, I was awarded a scholarship under the State Scholarship Fund to move here as a visiting scholar, working with reductive aminases to synthesize different N-substituted amino acid esters. In my spare time I like long walks in the countryside and watching TV.

Former PhD Candidate

Sarah Montgomery

I completed my MChem in Chemistry with Study in America at the University of Sheffield in 2015, before beginning my doctoral studies in Manchester. I am currently investigating the structure-activity relationship of imine reductases with a view to obtaining improved biocatalysts for reductive amination. I have a broad interest in organic synthesis and intensification, and find enzymes particularly exciting because of the potential for dramatic improvement to a process through identification of homologues or engineering. Between semesters I have undertaken internships at Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH in Biberach, Germany and Thermal Hazard Technology in Bletchley, UK, as well as supervising Headstart courses run by the Engineering Development Trust. I also spent 3 months working at Johnson Matthey in Cambridge, UK as part of my industrial CASE studentship. In my free time I enjoy horse riding, cycling and discovering new forms of motorsport.

Post-Doctoral Research Assistant

Itziar Peñafiel

I graduated in Chemistry at Universidad del País Vasco(Spain) and I did my PhD in Organic Synthesis under the supervision of Prof Miguel Yus and Dr Isidro M. Pastor at Universidad de Alicante (Spain). In 2013 I joined Prof Carmen Claver research group on developing new supported catalysts for the transformation of organic reactions from batch to continuous flow (SYNFLOW European Project) and two years later, I was awarded a personal postdoctoral Marie Curie COFUND fellowship for the sustainable production of high values chemicals under continuous flow, I carried out that project in two different centres: I joined Prof. Alexei Lapkin group at University of Cambridge (UK) for a year and Prof. Carmen Claver group at Centre Tecnològic de la Química de Catalunya(Tarragona, Spain) for a second year.

I was part of a collaborative project with Prof Michael Greaney and Prof Nicholas Turner which consists of the integration of electrosynthesis and biocatalysis under continuous flow. It supposes an exciting new challenge in my professional career, always oriented to sustainable processes.

I have just begun a new role as Research Fellow in the Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub

Apart of that, I love literature, travelling, music and human rights.

Post-Doctoral Research Assistant

Juan Mangas-Sanchez

I obtained my Ph. D at the University of Oviedo (Spain) under the supervision of Vicente Gotor-Fernandez working on new biocatalytic routes to synthesise optically active alcohols employing alcohol dehydrogenases and lipases. During that time, I undertook a 3-month internship at Gideon Grogan’s lab at the University of York. Then I moved to Lund University in Sweden for two years to work in Prof. Patrick Adlercreutz’s group on the optimisation of chemoenzymatic processes to obtain biodiesel, tailored triglycerides and prebiotics using hydrolases. For the last 3 years, I have been working as a Research Associate at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology within the ‘IRED team’, working on the discovery, engineering, characterisation and applications of novel biocatalysts for the production of amines. In my spare time, I enjoy exercising, travelling and photography as well as hanging out with friends and colleagues in local restaurants and pubs.

I now have my own research group in ISQCH at the University of Zaragoza, Spain

Post-Doctoral Research Assistant

Fabio Parmeggiani

I was born in Italy, not very far from Milano, where I obtained my PhD in Industrial Chemistry and Chemical Engineering (although, deep down, I always felt more of a chemist than an engineer), with a thesis on the stereoselective synthesis of chiral pharmaceutical intermediates mediated by my favourite enzymes, ene-reductases.

In 2013, I moved to Manchester, working on the synthesis of amino acids with phenylalanine ammonia lyases, amazing enzymes that perform very efficiently a chemically incredible reaction (but not very good at much else!). For about a year, I worked under the supervision of Prof. Sabine Flitsch on the chemo-enzymatic synthesis of fluorinated oligosaccharides, and since 2018 I am back in the Turner group to look at the combination of biocatalysis with copper bionanoparticles produced by weird metal-reducing bacteria.

I have always been really passionate about practical demonstrations of chemistry, and within the Chemistry Outreach programme I dedicate a considerable amount of my spare time to blowing things up and setting things on fire in front of students and general public (mainly to educate and inspire, but also for fun!).

Also, I am fond of British Real Ale and the beer culture in the UK, so whenever you are planning to go to a beer festival, or just for a few pints, let me know, I will be happy to come along!

I now have my own research group at Politecnico di Milano.

Post-Doctoral Research Assistant

Sebastian Cosgrove

I gained my undergraduate degree in Manchester, spending a year working at Syngenta and doing my final year project with Prof David Procter, working on samarium diiodide reductions. After this I moved to the University of Leeds to work with Prof Steve Marsden on photochemical amination reactions. During my time in Leeds I collaborated with Nick, then was awarded a fellowship to move here for postdoctoral, working with monoamine oxidase enzymes applied to the deracemization of tetrahydroquinolines. I have just begun a new role as Research Fellow in the Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub

In my spare time I like long walks in the countryside, break dancing and real ale.

Research Technician

Nicola Wood

After completing my undergraduate degree I spent time working in different industrial laboratories including United Utilities and LGC Forensics, before returning to University and completing my MSc and PhD. More recently I have been employed in assay development for QIAGEN under their companion diagnostics programme and YourGene (Premaitha) Health in the development of their pre-natal testing products. Outside of work I enjoy reading, gardening and spending time with my flock of free range chickens.

Former PhD Candidate

Jeremy Ramsden

I was born in Leeds and went to school in Bradford before my undergraduate degree brought me to Manchester to study Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry. I initially worked with transaminases and monoamine oxidases during my master’s project and decided I wanted to pursue a PhD in biocatalysis. I joined Nick’s group in 2016 to work on imine reductases/reductive aminases and my research so far has largely focused on the application of these enzymes in cascades to deliver new biocatalytic alternatives to transformations that are difficult to achieve with traditional synthetic chemistry. Outside of science, my hobbies include cooking, football, snowboarding and real ale.

Research Exploitation Manager

John Whittall

I have over 40 years’ experience as an industrial research chemist working for University spin-out companies (in Aberystwyth, Cardiff and Liverpool) as well as a few larger chemical companies. I have had the experience of taking several products from concept to the research bench and into industrial application in diverse areas such as optical data storage, variable density optical filters, waveguides, security marking inks and chiral catalysis. I’m also skilled in process development and the scaling-up of reactions with two novel processes invented to solve problems for larger scale pharmaceutical synthesis at major pharmaceutical companies. I’ve edited books in the field of photochromics, precious metal catalysis and biocatalysis. In the last few years at CoEBio3 I have developed a successful track record of forming consortia and writing FP7 and H2020 applications that have attracted significant funding in the field of Industrial Biocatalysis.

Post-Doctoral Research Assistant

James Galman

I obtained my undergraduate degree in Chemistry at University College London, and continued on with my PhD studies at the same institution researching on ‘Organocatalysis and Biocatalysis’ an interdisciplinary project with chemistry and biochemical engineering under the auspices of Professor Helen Hailes, Professor Paul Dalby and Professor John Ward.  I was awarded an EPSRC PhD plus award that allowed me to develop my skills further in ‘directed evolution’ to improve the substrate specificity and stereoselectivity of transferase enzymes for application under biotransformation process conditions. I had a brief position as a postdoctoral research assistant at VirginiaTech, USA working on cofactor engineering of a dehydrogenase enzyme. I returned back on UK soil working as a PDRA for Professor Nicholas Turner on a number of UK based and international projects to date. My scientific interests lie in biocatalysis and biological pathway design towards the synthesis of natural and unnatural alkaloids. Outside of the lab I enjoy badminton, hiking, drinking dark ales and also reading novels from the ‘golden age’ of detective fiction.


Post-doctoral Research Associate

Bruna da Costa

I’m originally from Brazil, born in a small city in the State of Paraná, a rural state in the south of the country. I achieved a Bachelor undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of Londrina, carrying a final year research project in biotechnology investigating the production of fungal lipases and laccases using industrial wastes. Instigated by the world of enzymes and biotech that was recently introduced to me, I decided to pursue a Chemistry MPhil and PhD degree focused on Biocatalysis, at the University of Campinas, under supervision of Prof. Anita Marsaioli. During this period, I had the opportunity to work on with a myriad of enzymatic processes involving esterases, epoxide hydrolases, monooxygenases, phosphatases and transaminases. After obtaining my PhD degree, I was awarded with a 3-year post-doctorate fellowship from FAPESP, which allowed me to have my first international academic experience by working for 1 year in the Turner’s Lab investigating enzymatic cascades to the synthesis of alkaloids. After a couple of years acting as a bridge between research groups in Brazil and UK, in 2019 I got a position as a post-doctorate Research Associate in the Turner’s Lab, working on the development of enzymatic cascades using imine reductases. Now I work at Johnson Matthey.

PhD Candidate

Joan Citoler

I completed my BSc in Biotechnology at the University of Lleida (Spain). Right after that, I undertook an IBioIC funded MSc in Industrial Biotechnology at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow). My postgraduate experience was gained during an academic placement at the Turner group where I worked on the engineering and characterisation of novel Imine Reductases (IREDs), and an industrial placement at GlaxoSmithKline, where I worked on the modular design of Carboxylic Acid Reductases (CARs). Within the Turner group I am undertaking an Akzonobel sponsored studentship aimed at developing routes to commercially important aliphatic primary amines utilizing enzymatic cascades. I am particularly interested in rational protein and metabolic engineering. Out of work, I enjoy practicing all kind of sports, especially football, dancing salsa and travelling.

PhD Candidate

Vanessa Harawa

I joined Nick Turner’s group in September 2017 as a PhD candidate under the BBSRC DTP programme. Before this I had completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Manchester where I gained a master’s degree in Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry.

During my time as a PhD student I will mainly be working with amine oxidases. The overall aim of my PhD project is to increase the substrate scope of chosen pre-existing biocatalyst by designing, followed by generation of a library of variants using advanced principles in directed evolution and rational design. I will also be developing synthetic approaches for the synthesis of specific functionalised molecules, which will act as novel substrates for the engineered biocatalysts. This will ultimately lead to novel synthetic routes to natural product-like compounds possessing biological activity.

In my spare time I enjoy running and have taken part in the Great Manchester Run for the past 4 years. I enjoy going out for food and drinks with friends and occasionally I attend Latin dance classes.

PhD Candidate

James Marshall

I am currently in the first year of my PhD researching into the area of reductive aminases. I moved to Manchester in 2017 to start my PhD in the Turner lab having completed my bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry at Newcastle University. The PhD which is part of the BBSRC and IBioIC’s CTP training programme is in collaboration with Prozomix Ltd. The aim of the studentship is to generate a biocatalytic platform for towards reductive amination, through employing a metagenomics approach. Outside of the laboratory my interests lie in travelling, eating out, and long distance running.

PhD Candidate

Thomas Thorpe

As part of the Turner research group I am undertaking a Pfizer sponsored PhD studentship aimed at developing methods for the synthesis of chiral amines using biocatalytic reductive amination. I hold a Class 1 MSci degree in Chemistry from the University of Birmingham which included a final year research project with Dr Richard Grainger developing radical mediated cyclisation chemistry. Following my undergraduate degree I gained two years of industrial experience at the leading UK biotechnology company Ingenza, where I worked on various commercial and grant projects as part of the Chemistry and Analytical Team focusing predominately on metabolic engineering and medical device development. I am also interested in scientific enterprise and entrepreneurship which aims to reduce human impact on the environment and am an active committee member on the Northwest Biotech Initiative Student Society. Outside of work, I enjoy coffee, hiking, festivals and real ale.

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PhD Candidate

Ryan Palmer

Novel Reductive Aminases for the Preparation of Chiral Amines

I carried out my undergraduate study at the University of York (2013-2017) where I obtained my MChem degree. My background and experience is primarily in analytical chemistry where my work was focused on GC, GC-MS and Flow Cytometry however my particular scientific interests are in the area of asymmetric synthetic chemistry. Within the Turner group I work on imine reductases (IREDs) and reductive aminases (RedAms) to use as catalysts for the synthesis of chiral amines. When I’m not working I like to occupy my spare time with yoga, rock climbing, Netflix binges and the odd tipple of gin.

Senior Experimental Officer

Rachel Heath

I obtained a PhD in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Oxford. My thesis topic was the study of an oxidoreductase of fungal origin using electrochemical methods. My experience with fungus led me into a job in industry, working as a fungal biochemist at Syngenta from where I picked up additional skills in molecular biology. Since joining the Turner group as a post-doctoral research associate I have continued working with oxidoreductases. My focus is on discovery and enzyme engineering, in particular of oxidases, for applications in single transformations as well as in cascade reactions. This work has included expanding substrate scopes, evolving thermostability and developing the required high-throughput screens. I very much enjoyed being part of the EU wide BIONEXGEN and BIOOX projects, in particular in forming new collaborations and getting to experience many amazing European cities. Outside of work, I enjoy reality tv, fine dining and shoe shopping.

PhD Candidate

Jack Sangster

I was awarded my undergraduate degree from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, where I worked on the development of a molecular biosensor for my final year project supervised by Dr Nicola Howarth.  After completion of my undergrad I moved to Manchester to study for my PhD in enzyme catalysed enantioselective C-C bond forming reactions. I am particularly interested in the application of enzymes in pharmaceutical synthesis. In my free time I enjoy hill walking, climbing and the odd night in the pub.

Post-Doctoral Research Assistant

Christian Schnepel

I come from a small town in the northwest of Germany. After finishing school I studied biochemistry at Bielefeld University where I obtained my PhD degree in biocatalysis and bioorganic chemistry in the group of Norbert Sewald. My research focused on enzymatic C–H functionalization using flavin-dependent halogenases. I worked on the development of one-pot cascades, directed evolution, high-throughput screening and substrate profiling. Being part of an interdisciplinary workgroup also allowed me to gain insight into peptide synthesis, metal catalysis and various analytical methods. Since September 2019 I am a postdoctoral researcher at Manchester Institute of Biotechnology. I joined Nick’s group to work in the ‘Centre for Biocatalytic Manufacture of New Modalities’, a Prosperity Partnership between The University of Manchester, AstraZeneca and Prozomix. My research focuses on the enzymatic synthesis of complex small molecules combining enzyme screening, engineering and cascade processes.

In my spare time I enjoy many outdoor activities, especially cycling, skiing, hiking and playing golf as well as reading books and city tours.

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Rebecca Ruscoe

In 2009 I completed my undergraduate degree in Chemistry with Industrial Experience (MChem) at the University of Manchester, spending 12 months at AstraZeneca as a Synthetic Organic Chemist. I remained at the University to complete my BBSRC DTP PhD under the primary supervision of Prof. David Procter working on multiple projects ranging from natural product synthesis to metal-catalysis. On completing my PhD I took up a two year postdoc position at The University of Nottingham working for Prof. Hon Wai Lam, where I further refined my skills working on transition metal-catalysis, along with Natural product synthesis and route design. In 2019 I joined the Turner group where I use my experience of chemical synthesis to complement existing projects in the group, along with developing my own biocatalytic skills.