Research Staff

Dr Mohamed Amer

Dr Mohamed Amer

Research Fellow, Future BRH

Mohamed received his BSc and MSc degrees in Biochemistry from Ain Shams University (Egypt) followed by a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Manchester (UK). Mohamed is an accomplished synthetic biologist with a wealth of transferable skills acquired in both academic and industrial sectors. He has a proven track record of success in developing sustainability strategies for entire process cycles of using microbial cell factories for industrial applications, starting from performing biocatalytic assays, constructing novel enzymatic cascade pathways, and genome engineering of various bioproduction platforms in E. coli and other non-model organism chassis. Furthermore, Mohamed has experience in developing fermentation media and conditions, downstream processing (DSP) of several bioproducts, and continuous support to both pilot- and large-scale production stages for enhancing decision-making processes in the bio-based industrial and commercial phases

Dr Alec Banner

Dr Alec Banner

Research Associate, Future BRH

Alec graduated from the University of York with a BSc in Biochemistry in 2015. He then returned to academia, completing an MPhil in 2018 and finishing his PhD in Chemistry, from the University of Manchester, in 2023. Alec’s PhD focussed on engineering E. coli as an industrial host for consolidated bioprocessing, looking at accessing waste feedstocks, strain engineering and laboratory-scale fermentation. Within the Future BRH, Alec is developing novel strains for increasing metabolic substrate availability and helping to run the DoE and fermentation scale-up facilities.

Dr Kaouthar Eljounaidi

Dr Kaouthar Eljounaidi

Research Associate, Future BRH

Kaouthar completed her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Turin (Italy) studying plant natural product biosynthesis and bioengineering. After her PhD, she worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of York. Through her PhD and postdoctoral experience, she gained extensive expertise in wide range of approaches and techniques spanning from molecular biology and metabolic engineering to analytical chemistry and metabolomics. Her current projects in Future BRH are focussed on developing biomanufacturing platforms for high value terpenoids and alkaloids.

Dr Matthew Faulkner

Dr Matthew Faulkner

Research Fellow, Future BRH

Matthew graduated with an MSci in biochemistry from the University of Birmingham (UK) in 2014 and with his PhD from the University of Liverpool (UK) in 2018. During his Masters Matthew studied the impacts of nitrosative stress on Delsulfovibrio desulfuricans with Prof Jeff Cole in the Institute of Microbiology and Infection. His PhD focussed on the cyanobacterial carbon fixation machinery and carboxysome structure, function and biophysical properties using atomic force microscopy. From 2018 to 2021 Matthew was a postdoctoral research associate in Prof Nigel Scrutton’s group at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology. This postdoctoral role involved the study of terpene production. Within Future BRH he is developing novel routes to biological carbon capture utilisation and storage using photosynthetic bacteria.

Dr Azarmidokht Gholamipour-Shirazi

Dr Azarmidokht Gholamipour-Shirazi

Research Fellow, Future BRH

Azar completed her undergraduate and Masters qualifications in Chemical Engineering, followed by her PhD in organic and macromolecular chemistry at the University of Lille, France. The main focus of her thesis work was flow chemistry and process intensification, as well as kinetics, thermodynamics, and organic synthesis. Azar is a global researcher with a global network of collaborators; she has worked as a research fellow in laboratories in France, Brazil, Norway, China, Czech Republic and the UK. Azar’s expertise spans a broad range of topics in chemical engineering and chemistry.

Dr Ellie Goulding

Dr Ellie Goulding

Research Associate, Future BRH

Ellie graduated from the University of Liverpool with a MChem degree in Chemistry in 2019, followed by a PhD focussing on biocatalysis in 2024. During her PhD, Ellie studied the characterisation and engineering of acyltransferases for amide formation under aqueous conditions. Within the Future BRH, Ellie is working on the engineering of halophilic production strains for biomanufacturing valuable products from waste feedstocks.

Dr Erik Hanko

Dr Erik Hanko

Research Fellow, Future BRH

Erik completed his PhD in Molecular Microbiology at the University of Nottingham in 2020 and subsequently joined the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology as a Research Associate. He has been actively involved in the Horizon 2020-funded TOPCAPI and ShikiFactory100 projects. Erik’s research is centred at the interface of synthetic biology and metabolic engineering. Throughout his career, he has dedicated his efforts to developing genetic tools and engineering various model and non-model organisms for the biosynthesis of platform chemicals and natural products. One of Erik’s key interests lies in the design and engineering of small-molecule biosensors for facilitating high-throughput screening of microbial cell factories.

Dr Elahe Hojaji

Dr Elahe Hojaji

Research Fellow, Future BRH

Elahe completed her PhD in chemical and energy engineering at London South Bank University, followed by her appointment at university of Surrey to work on the atomic-scale modelling of cathode of Lithium Ion Batteries.  Elahe then joined Surrey Hydrogen Limited to conduct process simulation, modelling, optimization, scale-up analysis, and economic analyses of the patented green hydrogen technology to evaluate the viability of the hydrogen project. Elahe has recently joined the Future BRH to model Halomonas fermentation and then implement the proper control and monitoring platform for that, which can be used for the large scale applications.

Dr Chatchai Kesornpun

Dr Chatchai Kesornpun

Research Fellow, Future BRH

Chatchai obtained his PhD in Chemical Biology from Chulabhorn Graduate Institute (CGI), Chulabhorn Royal Academy, Thailand. Chatchai then joined the Chulabhorn Research Institute (CRI), Thailand, as a postdoctoral associate working on medicinal plant natural products and investigating their biological activity, and synthesis of water-soluble betaine dyes of C3 quinolinium derivatives. Chatchai continued his postdoctoral study at Vidyasirimedhi Institute of Science and Technology (VISTEC), Thailand, working on synthetic biology aiming to produce value-added chemicals from organic waste, demonstrating scaling-up approaches for microbial cultivation and large-scale microbial fermentation. Within Future BRH Chatchai is focused on microbial fermentation at lab scale with a view to scale up and sustainable process engineering for biomanufacturing.

Dr Hanan Messiha

Dr Hanan Messiha

Research Fellow, Future BRH

Hanan is an experienced researcher who obtained her BSc in pharmaceutical sciences and MSc in biochemistry. She then received a scholarship to study a PhD in the UK. Hanan obtained her PhD in biochemistry from the University of Leicester under the supervision of Professor Nigel Scrutton studying the mechanism of the morphinone reductase enzyme. She worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Leicester and at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology before joining the Future BRH. Hanan has worked in diverse research projects and has developed a broad range of experience in biocatalysis, synthetic biology & metabolic engineering, downstream processing, enzymology, biophysics, systems biology, analytical & organic and polymer chemistry. She also worked with industrial partners to develop novel biomanufacturing processes. Hanan is keen to contribute to the aspirations of the Future BRH in supporting the growing bioeconomy and her role involves the development of robust sustainable bio-routes to biomaterials, biofuel, key intermediates and chemicals for various industrial applications.

Dr Aled Roberts

Dr Aled Roberts

Research Fellow, Future BRH

Aled has a broad academic background spanning chemistry, materials engineering and synthetic biology. Specialising in interdisciplinary research, he hopes to bridge the gap between synthetic biology and other disciplines – such as materials science, polymer chemistry and bio-medical materials. After obtaining his MChem degree at the University of Liverpool, Aled undertook a PhD in Materials Chemistry jointly at the University of Liverpool and at the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE) in Singapore. Following this, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Manchester where he worked on several projects at the interface of materials science and synthetic biology.

Dr Chris Robinson

Dr Chris Robinson

Research Fellow, Future BRH

Chris studied Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Manchester before earning his PhD at the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research. He then worked as a postdoc at the Paterson, studying the interactions of cell surface glycosaminoglycans with growth factors and their receptors. Chris continued his post-doctoral studies at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, engineering riboswitches as novel gene regulatory tools. In 2015, he joined SYNBIOCHEM (the Manchester synthetic biology research centre) as an experimental officer, helping to develop an automated design-build-test-learn pipeline. His current research involves the construction of biosynthetic pathways and engineering microbial host strains for the production of diverse small molecule targets, including material monomers and plant-derived alkaloids and flavonoids as active pharmaceutical ingredients. In 2022 he joined the Future BRH as a Research Fellow to continue this work.

Dr Matthew Russell

Dr Matthew Russell

Research Fellow, Future BRH

Matt is an analytical biochemist specialising in quantitative protein mass spectrometry.  He has an undergraduate masters degree in chemistry from the University of St Andrews and a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Cambridge focusing on quantitative proteomics. After completing his PhD Matt worked in industry for LGC working on methods to quantify host cell contaminants in biologic medicines before returning to academic research with two postdoctoral research associate positions at the University of Manchester. In the first project Matt quantified expression of drug transporter and metabolising proteins in human gut and liver tissues to inform systems biology models to predict drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics. In the second project Matt quantified proteins expression in human serum samples to identify potential biomarkers for ovarian cancer. At Future BRH Matt is working on analytical methods to quantify enzyme expression in host strains.

Viranga Tilakaratna

Viranga Tilakaratna

Senior Research Technician, Future BRH

Viranga obtained her B.Sc in Microbiology from University of Pune, India, and Masters in Biotechnology from University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka. She joined The University of Manchester as a Research Technician in 2010 and has worked with several groups across a range of areas including microbiology, molecular biology and tissue culture. Viranga’s current role is to support the overall delivery of the Future BRH research programme and provide coordination of laboratory health and safety and procurement. She works alongside the Future BRH Project Manager to ensure smooth day to day research operation of the Hub.

Dr Helen Toogood

Dr Helen Toogood

Senior Experimental Officer, Future BRH

Helen is an experienced research scientist specialising in enzymology, biotechnology and synthetic biology. She obtained her PhD degree in the biochemistry of extremophile enzymes at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. Prior postdoctoral research positions were undertaken at Yale University, University of Leicester, Exeter University and more recently at the University of Manchester. Additional skills developed during prior research include  protein crystallography, robotic laboratory automation, analytical (bio)chemistry, molecular biology and synthetic biology. Helen’s main research focus is the development of commercially viable synthetic biology routes to biofuels and other biochemicals using microorganisms as ‘microbial chassis.’ This encompasses de novo enzymatic pathway design through to laboratory scale fermentation of microbial biorefineries.

Dr Joshua Whitehead

Dr Joshua Whitehead

Research Associate

Josh graduated from the University of Manchester in 2019 with a BSc in Chemistry. He obtained an MRes in Systems and Synthetic Biology from Imperial College London before returning to Manchester, where he obtained his PhD in the lab of Professor Nigel Scrutton working on engineering terpene synthases. Josh’s research interests are focused on enzyme engineering and characterisation, and the chemistry of catalysis. He plans to make use of directed evolution and high-throughput technologies to discover and characterise new enzymes and variants with improved and novel function.