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Professor Jonathan Heddle

Professor Jonathan Heddle is set to join Durham University thanks to a £4.8million Leverhulme International Professorship award.

Currently based at Malopolska Centre of Biotechnology (MCB), Jagiellonian University in Poland, Professor Heddle’s research into bionanoscience aims to understand, design and build artificial and natural biological nanomachines. 

The highly competitive Leverhulme International Professorships enable universities to attract globally leading scholars to take up permanent professorial posts in the UK. The funding will help establish the Centre for Programmable Biological Matter at Durham University, supporting a team of early career researchers and PhD students, building a solid foundation for further development of this exciting new area of research at the University.

Taking inspiration from nature’s nanomachines

Bionanoscience is a fast growing and ground-breaking area of research. A thousand times smaller than the width of a hair, nanomachines are microscopic molecular robots that could help create new materials, electronics and more effective medical treatments. Living systems are built and maintained through the action of countless biological machines such as enzymes which are made from protein. They exist at the nanoscale and many act like tiny robots. Working together, they are responsible for defining features of cells such as self-repair and autonomous motion.

A successful history of collaboration

Originally from the Bishop Auckland area, Professor Heddle completed his PhD in biochemistry at the University of Leicester. After obtaining the prestigious Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Postdoctoral Fellowship for Research, he conducted structural biology research at Yokohama City University in Japan. Professor Heddle then created his own laboratory at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, and then at the RIKEN research centre in WakĊ, Japan, before moving to Jagiellonian University in Poland.

Professor Heddle has a long history of successful collaboration with our Biophysical Sciences Institute, pushing research frontiers in bionanoscience. This has included work aimed at understanding viral protein machinery to build programmable protein nanocages which can be used in biomedicine. His arrival is part of an exciting plan to build on our world class bio-capabilities and provide the basis for further expansion of our research goals.

Find out more

Learn more about Heddle Lab

Find out more about the Leverhulme Trust

Our Department of Biosciences, is a leading centre for this increasingly important are of study. Students develop a wide range of analytical and practical skills that prepare them to meet these challenges we face across the globe including food security, sustainability and the impact of climate change 

Feeling inspired? Visit our Biosciences webpages to learn more about our postgraduate and undergraduate programmes.