Sustainability database


Prof Nigel Scrutton

Professor and Director of Manchester Institute of Biotechnology

Enzyme catalysts are central to life. They are the vehicles for delivering innovative bioscience solutions to chemicals manufacture, drug discovery, therapeutics and bioprocessing. They are the key enablers in the white biotechnology revolution, providing essential components in the new science of 'synthetic biology', offering new routes to biofuels, bulk and commodity chemicals and novel therapeutics. Despite this, our ability to create new enzymes through rational engineering is limited, which is a consequence of our poor understanding of mechanism and quantitative appreciation of the 'catalytic effect'.

We are interested in gaining deeper understanding of catalysis and using this information to drive new applications. We focus on fundamental studies of enzyme mechanism, developing 'sharper' tools to analyse mechanisms across a wide range of timescales (femtoseconds to seconds). This involves both classical and quantum mechanical appreciation of the underlying chemistry. We then translate this knowledge into applications, e.g. in industrial biotechnology (chemicals manufacture), or development of potent inhibitors of enzyme function (drug discovery). Our work is highly interdisciplinary and we have broad interests captured by the descriptors: quantum biology; isotope effects; enzyme chemistry; laser spectroscopy; fast reactions methods; structural biology; kinetics and inhibition; enzyme evolution and pathway engineering; biocatalysis and biomanufacture.

Sustainability enthusiast?: 
Interdisciplinary themes: 




Direct biological conversion of solar energy to volatile hydrocarbon fuels by engineered cyanobacteria.


Rapid Evolution of Enzymes

The use of biocatalysts in the manufacture of chemicals presents significant advantages in terms of enhanced reaction selectivity, reduced cost of raw materials, lower energy costs, safety and importantly sustainability.


Manchester Institute of Biotechnology

The Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre (renamed the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology in Autumn 2012) was completed in 2006 and represented the first university-based, purpose-built interdisciplinary research institute of its kind in the UK.

Biology, Innovation, Biotechnology


Biophysics and Structural Biology

The Biophysics and Structural Biology research group brings together researchers interested in understanding biology at the molecular level, linking structure with function. Research in the group spans the kingdoms of life investigating the molecular basis of virus, plant, microbial, animal and human biology. It often uses an interdisciplinary approach combining the use of structural biology with advanced enzymological, spectroscopic or computational studies.