Nigel Robinson: Academic Lead for Bioeconomy

Professor, Department of Chemistry, School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham University

Ph.D. research with David Thurman, Liverpool, to understand the biochemistry of plant adaptations to elevated metals by quantifying organic acids in zinc-tolerant grasses, metallothioneins, and (later named) phytochelatins in copper-tolerant monkey flowers.

Directors funded and NERC postdoctoral fellowship with Paul Jackson at Los Alamos National Laboratory to study the molecular genetics of metal-tolerance. A Royal Society University Research Fellowship to gather genetic resources for metal homeostasis. Research group cloned and characterized bacterial metallothionein genes, metal-responsive transcriptional regulators, metal transporters, metallochaperones, plant iron-chelate reductases, and more.

As Professor of Genetics at Newcastle Medical School explored how cells help proteins to acquire the correct metals (Nature 1999 397, 694-697: Nature 2008 455, 1138-1142: Nature 2009 460, 823-830). With Dennis Winge, University of Utah, established the “Cell Biology of Metals” Gordon Research Conference.

Since so many enzymes need metals, understanding the ways in which cells are both challenged by and exploit bio-inorganic chemistry in order to assist protein metalation has broad implications and applications.

These opportunities are now exploited via the Metals in Biology BBSRC NIBB, which is co-directed with Martin Warren, Kent. Currently director of research for the School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham, editorial advisor to several Journals, and oversee biologist embedded within Durham’s Department of Chemistry.