The Centre is a hub for experts working in the field of biotechnology and biorefining enabling multidisciplinary collaborations across key research areas. The Centre is represented by academics from the School of Engineering, Department of Chemistry, School of Life Sciences and Warwick Manufacturing Group.
Professor Tim Bugg – Department of Chemistry
In addition to taking on Directorship of the Centre for Industrial Biotechnology and Biorefining, Tim's research group specialises in biological chemistry and mechanistic enzymology. Major areas of interest are enzymes involved in the bacterial degradation of aromatic compounds, and enzymes involved in bacterial cell wall peptidoglycan biosynthesis, as targets for the development of novel antibacterial agents.
- Enzymology of bacterial lignin degradation
- Production of renewable chemicals from lignin
Dr Guy Barker – School of Life Sciences
Guy Barker Associate Professor and Director of the Genomics Resource Centre in the School of Life Sciences. Guys research interests include natural products and metabolites involved in health, developing a novel approach for the recovery of bio-energy from ligno-cellulolytic waste, exploring the genes and mechanisms underlying fatty acid quality and utilising diversity within the gene pool to understand gene expression and regulation underlying phenotype. Guy participated in the Nuffield Council on Bioethics working party review on new approaches to biofuels. He has contributed to both the Industrial Biotechnology, Innovation and Growth Team (IB-IGT) report and Sciencewise project looking at Public perceptions to Industrial Biotechnology. This work is continuing through further engagement with the UK department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and Forum for the Future. He closely collaborates with Chemistry, Engineering and WMG in developing alternative products from plant based origins.
- Genomic and transcriptome analysis. Enhancing of food through understanding secondary metabolites and their mode of action.
- Natural product isolation and enhancing value though the development of bio-refineries and co product development.
- Analysis of different biomass and synergistic interactions of plant compounds.
Professor Greg Challis – Department of Chemistry
Greg is involved in natural products chemistry and biology, including isolation and structure determination of new bioactive natural products, genomics and genetics of natural product biosynthesis and enzymology of natural product biosynthesis. He is also involved in chemical synthesis of bioactive natural products and intermediates in their biosynthesis, genetic manipulation of bioactive natural product biosynthesis pathways to produce new analogues, molecular mechanism of action of bioactive natural products and their biological function.
- Natural product discovery, including traditional grind and find approaches, and genomics driven approaches.
- Discovery of novel biocatalysts with potential applications in the production of nylon polymers, platform chemicals, biofuels and fine chemicals.
- Synthetic biology approaches for the production of novel metabolic products, including antimalarials, anti-Gram-negative antibacterials, anticancer agents, herbicides and biofuels.
Dr Michael Chappell – School of Engineering
- Modelling and analysis of metabolic process in biological, biomedical and pharmacokinetic systems
Professor Andy Clark – Department of Chemistry
- Chemical modification of biomass into renewable feedstocks for materials manufacture
- Design of green chemical processes for radical reactions
Dr Stuart Coles – Warwick Manufacturing Group
- Conversion of triglycerides and lipid structures into biopolymers and biomaterials
- Analysis and identification of metabolic by-products
- Biopolymer processing
- Utilising waste biomass in manufacturing streams to give value-added products
Dr Christophe Corre – School of Life Sciences and Department of Chemistry
Dr Christophe Corre currently holds a University Research Fellowship from The Royal Society in the Department of Chemistry and in the School of Life Sciences where his research group works at the interface between Chemistry and Biology. Their interdisciplinary work focuses on understanding and exploiting the molecular mechanisms of microbial signalling that controls antibiotic production in bacteria.
- Microbial natural product discovery using a combination of microbial strain engineering (including genetic manipulation of regulatory and biosynthetic genes, overexpression of gene clusters in host or superhost strains) and advanced analytical chemistry techniques (UHPLC-MS and NMR).
- Strain improvement for the production of known metabolites.
- Development of novel tools for biotechnology such as inducible expression systems, antibiotic resistance cassettes.
- Biophysical studies of microbial DNA-binding receptor proteins.
Dr Kerry Kirwan – Warwick Manufacturing Group
Dr Kerry Kirwan is an Associate Professor within WMG with considerable experience in both injection moulding and novel utilisation of polymers. He now specialises in environmentally friendly materials for application within numerous industries, most recently being awarded a £3.1m EPSRC grant for Cleaning Land For Wealth, a project that combines phytoremediation, synthetic biology and industrial biotechnology. He has also previously been awarded a 1.3m WIMRC grant for "Wealth out of Waste" (WOW), a highly multidisciplinary programme aiming to develop a truly novel bioreactor system that utilises waste agricultural products and biological systems to create high value products such as pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, plastics etc and was the Principle Investigator on the WorldF3rst Formula 3 racing concept; delivering a fully functional F3 racing car built almost entirely from waste and recycled materials and fuelled by biodiesel derived from waste food products such as chocolate, beef fat and residues from the cheese industry.
Dr Isaac Liu – School of Engineering
Isaac Liu leads a team working in a new nanobioengineering laboratory. The lab focuses on a new interdisciplinary research paradigm which bridges nanotechnology, biomechanics, microfabrication, biomaterials and medicine for developing the next generation of therapies.
- Cell biomechanics
- Cellular engineering
- Soft particle mechanics
- Particle adhesion
- Mechanics of soft matter
- Protein transport pathways in bacteria and chloroplasts, and their use for production of recombinant proteins.
- Synthetic biology approaches for targeting of proteins in algae and cyanobacteria, with the aim of producing high value chemicals.
Dr Hendrik Schäfer – School of Life Sciences
Hendrik Schäfer’s research aims at understanding the molecular basis of microbial degradation of organic sulphur compounds of environmental and industrial importance (e.g. dimethylsulphoxide, DMSO; dimethylsulphide, DMS; methanethiol, MT). These are significant for causing malodorous emissions in a range of industrial processes including composting, waste water treatment, but are also important compounds contributing to the odour profile of foods and beverages, either as ‘off-notes’ at high concentrations or essential aromas at low concentrations.
In industrial biotechnology bacteria degrading MSCs are exploited in the process of biofiltration, where they are responsible for removal of odorous and toxic volatile sulphur compounds emitting from industrial operations. Diagnostic tools developed and novel strains can be used to increase the understanding and efficiency of microbial biofiltration while the enzymes studied hold promise as biosensors.
- Environmental and molecular microbiology
- Microbial genetics and biochemistry
- Microbial degradation of organic sulphur compounds
Professor Martin Wills – Department of Chemistry
Martin Wills is a synthetic organic chemist. He works on the development of more active and selective catalysts for the efficient transformation of organic molecules into valuable products. Martin has published on the use of metal-based chemical catalysts, and the use of enzymes in organic reactions. A major ongoing theme of his work is related to developing more efficient transformations of biomaterials into high value target products.
- Chemical and biological catalysis, synthetic organic chemistry and transformations of challenging substrates
- Hydrogen production from organic chemicals
- Synthetic methodology
Vilmos Fulop is a structural biologist and his expertises include mechanistic enzymology. He has been collaborating with Greg Challis on the elucidation of the structural enzymology of natural product biosynthesis, with Christophe Corre on the structural biochemistry of enzymes that control microbial signalling and with Martin Wills on the investigation of the molecular mechanism of enzymes that drive asymmetric catalysis.
X-ray crystallography as a principal technique to investigate the structural enzymology of
- Peroxidases and other haem proteins
- Enzymes involved in amino acid biosynthesis