Derren Heyes, BSc, PhD


Personal profile


Derren Heyes obtained his PhD in 2000 under the supervision of Prof. Neil Hunter at the University of Sheffield where he continued his post-doctoral career studying the catalytic mechanism of the light-activated chlorophyll biosynthesis enzyme protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase. Since 2005 he has been a Senior Experimental Officer in Molecular Enzymology at the University of Manchester, where he has been developing new fast reaction methods for the analysis of enzyme mechanisms. His main research interests are in understanding the mechanism of photochemistry in a number of light-activated proteins.

Research interests

I have been developing a range of kinetic and spectroscopic techniques probe the molecular mechanism of a range of enzymes and photoreceptors. In particular I have a strong interest in understanding the mechanism of photochemistry in a number of light-activated proteins. These include: i). Protochlorophyllide oxidoreductase (POR) - this unique light-driven enzyme catalyses the reduction of protochlorophyllide in the chlorophyll biosynthetic pathway. We have developed laser-based techniques to solve the catalytic mechansim of the enzyme and are developing new tools to probe protein dynamics during the reaction cycle. ii) Phytochromes / cyanobacteriochromes - these are major light-responsive proteins that regulate a range of biological responses in plants and microorganisms. They contain a bilin cofactor and signalling is initiated by photoconversion between 2 states of the chromophore which is then linked to structural changes in the protein. We are developing a detailed mechanistic, functional and structural understanding of the photocycles of these important proteins. 

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Christabel Pankhurst Institute


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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