Prof Jeff Errington

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Prof Jeff Errington FMedSci FRS has spent much of his research career studying fundamental questions about the structure and function of bacterial cells. During 25 years at the University of Oxford, latterly as Professor of Microbiology at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, he made important contributions to our understanding of the molecular biology underpinning endospore formation in Bacillus subtilis.

More recently he has contributed substantially to our understanding of chromosome replication and segregation, cell division and cell morphogenesis in bacteria. His lab was one of the pioneers in the application of digital fluorescence imaging methods to bacteria. He is presently founding Director of the Centre for Bacterial Cell Biology at Newcastle University in the UK, which was the world’s first major research centre focused specifically on the molecular and cellular biology of bacterial cells.

Errington’s contributions to basic science have been recognized by election to various learned societies, including Fellowship of the Royal Society, EMBO, the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and both the European and American Academies of Microbiology. His recent academic work has been funded by successive major grants from the European Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.

The mechanisms underlying essential cellular functions in bacteria include many essential proteins that are actual or potential targets for antibiotics. Errington’s work has generated opportunities for discovery of novel antibiotics, which have been pursued through two spin out companies, Prolysis Ltd and now Newcastle-based Demuris Ltd.

In the last 10 years or so Errington has turned his attention to actinobacteria, as fascinating examples of complex adaptive evolution in the bacterial domain and sources of important bioactive “natural product” molecules. This work led to an interest in actinomycetoma and an extremely interesting and now productive collaboration with Prof Fahal’s group at the MRC in Khartoum.