Prof Nigel Scrutton FRS, FRSC, FRSB

Professor of Molecular Enzymology

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Enzymes and photoreceptors offer opportunities to study the chemistry of life. My group investigates the mechanisms of enzymes and photoreceptors. We develop biophysical methods to investigate these mechanisms across a wide range of timescales. Our aim is to capture an appreciation of the underlying chemistry of enzyme and photoreceptor action.  

We then use this information to drive new applications in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering. Areas of interest include industrial biotechnology (chemicals and fuels production) and enzyme inhibitor design (drug discovery). 

Our work is interdisciplinary captured by the descriptors: enzyme chemistry; biophysical methods; structural and synthetic biology; kinetics and inhibition; enzyme evolution; metabolic engineering; biocatalysis; biomanufacture.


Nigel is Director of the EPSRC Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub and the BBSRC funded Synthetic Biology Research Centre 'SYNBIOCHEM'. He is also a Founding Director of the fuels-from-biology company C3 BIOTECH Ltd and its subsidiary company C3 BIOTECH (Maritime and Aerospace) Ltd. 

He is former Director of the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB) (2010-2019), which was recognised by the award of the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education (2018-20) as 'a leader in the UK’s strategic development of biotechnology and bio-manufacturing, through innovative technologies in partnerships with industry'. 

Nigel was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 2020. He is recipient of the Biochemical Society Colworth Medal, the RSC Charmian Medal, the RSC Rita and John Cornforth Award, the RSC Interdisciplinary Prize and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award.

He has held a number of externally funded research fellowships including an EPSRC Established Career Fellowship, a BBSRC Professorial Research Fellowship, a Lister Institute Fellowship, a Royal Society University Research Fellowship, and a Fellowship of the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.

Nigel graduated in Biochemistry from the University of London, King's College (1985). He gained his ScD and PhD degrees at St John's College, the University of Cambridge as a Benefactor’s Scholar. After his PhD, he was elected to a Research Fellowship at St John’s where he was also awarded the Henry Humphrey's Research Prize. He later held a Fellowship and was Director of Studies at Churchill College, University of Cambridge.

In 1995 he moved to the University of Leicester initially as Lecturer, then as Reader (1997) and Professor (1999). He was appointed Professor at the University of Manchester in 2005, where he was Associate Dean for Research prior to his appointment as MIB Director.

Nigel has been Visiting Professor at Tsinghua University, China and is Visiting Professor at Cardiff University, UK. He is also Adjunct Professor at Beijing University of Chemical Technology, China and Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology (VISTEC), Thailand.

Nigel’s group is noted for its contributions to the study of enzyme catalysis, covering quantum tunnelling, mechanistic and structural biology, synthetic biology, and bio-based chemicals/fuels manufacture. His work is interdisciplinary and is supported by a genuinely world-leading infrastructure for biophysical chemistry and synthetic biology that he has established in MIB. 


  • Enzyme biocatalysts, quantum biology, quantum tunnelling, photochemistry, enzyme design, directed evolution, enzyme mechanisms, enzyme structures and dynamics, synthetic biology, chemicals biosynthesis, nanoscale bioengineering, biocatalysis, metabolic engineering

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