Personal profile


Sarah received her PhD from the University of Manchester where she worked under the supervision of Prof. Nicholas Turner. Following her PhD, she took a position as a Senior Scientist at GlaxoSmithKline where her primary focus was engineering enzymes for use in manufacturing processes. In 2017, she moved back to academia as a BBSRC/MRC Innovation Fellow working in the lab of Dr Anthony Green. As part of this fellowship, she spent time as a visting academic at the University of Washington in the lab of Prof. David Baker, where she learnt to use Rosetta computational algorithms to design enzymes with activities not represented in Nature. In 2020 Sarah was awarded a Presidential Fellowship and UKRI Future Leader Fellowship, allowing her to start her own independent research group. Sarah’s research focusses on the development of versatile biocatalytic approaches for the synthesis of therapeutic oligonucleotides. Her research involves engineering DNA modifying enzymes using directed evolution for applications in oligonucleotide manufacturing.

Research interests

Therapeutic oligonucleotides bind to mRNA to modulate the production of disease related proteins and have emerged as a potential new drug modality for the treatment of a whole range of disease areas. However, current methods of chemical synthesis are not scalable and current marketed therapies are limited to the treatment of rare diseases. In order to synthesise high volume oligonucleotide products required for the treatment of more common diseases, more scalable and sustainable methods are required. Sarah’s research involves engineering DNA modifying enzymes using directed evolution for applications in oligonucleotide manufacturing, and applying these biocatalytic strategies to the discovery of second generation therapeutics. The MIB is a world-leading interdisciplinary research centre with state-of-the-art infrastructure for accelerated enzyme evolution, including automated liquid handling robots, a colony picker and a suite of high throughput analytical facilities, making it the perfect host institute for her Fellowship. Moreover, the MIB attracts numerous industrial partnerships and has an excellent track record of translating basic scientific discovery into industrial applications.

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 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Institute of Biotechnology


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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