Dr Nick Turner

Job: Associate Professor/Reader in Bioanalytical Chemistry

Faculty: Health and Life Sciences

School/department: Leicester School of Pharmacy

Address: De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester, LE1 9BH

T: +44 (0)116 207 8416

E: nicholas.turner@dmu.ac.uk

W: https://www.dmu.ac.uk/nickturner


Personal profile

I obtained a BSc in Pharmacology (Southampton 1997) followed by an MRes in Biochemistry (Exeter 1999). My PhD was in the sensor development for detection of fungal toxins using molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) with Professor Sergey Piletsky (Cranfield 2004).

Following my PhD I was awarded a fellowship from a collaboration of East of England Universities (i10), studying polymers for environmental controlled drug release. This was jointly based out of the Judge Institute of Management, University of Cambridge and Cranfield.

I spent a year at the University of Utah working with Professor Vladimir Hlady (Bioengineering), working on the development of novel imprinting methodologies, before returning to Cranfield to work on a number of different industry sponsored commercially sensitive biosensor projects. After this I spent two and a half years at the University of Newcastle, Australia with Professor Adam McCluskey studying gas phase detection of explosives.

In 2009 I moved to the Open University to take up a full academic appointment as a Lecturer on Analytical Science.

In August 2018 I moved to De Montfort University School of Pharmacy on a Vice Chancellor’s Lectureship scheme (VC2020) in the role of Senior Lecturer in Bioanalytical Chemistry.

Research group affiliations

Leicester Institute of Pharmaceutical Innovation for Integrated Care (LIPIIC)

Research interests/expertise

My research interests lie in the field of molecular recognition, and in particular the development of artificial recognition elements. Towards this end I use a technique known as Molecular Imprinting.

Molecularly Imprinted Polymers (MIP) are a simple elegant biomimetic technology where recognition sites, analogous to the binding sites of antibodies, enzymes and receptors are created in polymeric materials containing complementary functionality to a target molecule. After preparation cavities that are complementary to the shape and chemical profile of the target are formed allowing specific recognition and rebinding. MIPs represent a generic, versatile, scalable and cost-effective approach to the creation of synthetic molecular receptors; and are rapidly becoming commercially relevant. My work is focused on:

1: MIPs for trace capture and analysis. Preparation of Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) materials for biomarkers, toxins, pollutants, explosives and pharmaceuticals analysis. This is a traditional imprinting area where polymers are used as targeted clean-up for further analytical study.

2: Hybrid imprinting using biological materials as monomers The development of imprinted nanoparticles that are hybrids between aptamers (short chains of single strand DNA that have molecular recognition properties) and MIPs. These apta-MIPs maintained the best properties of both classes of materials. They demonstrated high affinity and specificity, towards their targets. In addition they addressed the stability issues associated with aptamers. This work is in collaboration with Dr Jon Watts (UMass, RTI Institute, USA).

3: Macromolecule Imprinting Investigating selective rebinding of proteins for biological sample clean-up. I am also interested in developing materials specific for different isoforms of the same protein. These will be used in the development of sensors for early analysis of protein conformational diseases such as Alzheimer's. The same imprints are under study to guide protein folding.

4: Biosensor design Using MIPs and other recognition elements to generate next-generation biosensor platforms.

Areas of teaching

General Chemistry

Analytical Chemistry

Medicinal Chemistry


BSc (Hons) - Pharmacology - University of Southampton

MRes - Biological Research Methods (Biochemistry) - University of Exeter

PhD - Bio-organic Chemistry - Cranfield University

Courses taught

PHAR1702, FSCI1001, PHCO2307, PHCO2312, PHCO5303

Membership of external committees

RSC Macro Group - 2018 - Present, Secretary

EPSRC Peer Review College, 2016 - Present, Full Member

Membership of professional associations and societies

Royal Society of Chemistry, 2012 - Present, MRSC

Professional licences and certificates

Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy (2016)

Consultancy work

L7 Apprenticeship (Lab Scientist), Panel Member
University of Leicester, Visiting Lecturer
Open University, Visiting Fellow

Academic Consultant for the BBC Series “Bang Goes The Theory” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1832348/ Series

“In Search of Colour” http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02vmwbt

BBC IWonder – “why do we see colours differently?” http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zgh34j6

Externally funded research grants information

Multiple detection of androgens in urine using MIPs and GC-MS.
Partnership For Clean Competition, 01/2019 - 12/2020.
PI with Morgan, OU and Bassindale, Sheffield Hallam

EXOPOP – Analysis of Extracellular Vesicles using Impact Electrochemistry CRUK-EPSRC-STFC - 01/2019 - 12/2019
CO-I with Carter (Oxford Brookes), Patel, (Brighton), Psaila/Zhu (Oxford)

Published patents

Piletsky, S.A., Turner, N.W., Piletska, E. & Turner, A.P.F., (2004). Design and Use of Imprinted Polymers with Specific Affinity affecting Controlled Release of Chemicals. UK Patent No. GB2418428