Professor Nick Turner

School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Professor in Bioanalytical Chemistry

Nick Turner
Nick Turner
Profile picture of Nick Turner
+44 114 222 9371

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Professor Nick Turner
School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Dainton Building
13 Brook Hill
S3 7HF

Nick obtained a BSc in Pharmacology (Southampton 1997) followed by an MRes in Biochemistry (Exeter 1999). His PhD was in the sensor development for detection of fungal toxins using molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) with Professor Sergey Piletsky (Cranfield 2004). Following his PhD he was awarded a fellowship from a collaboration of East of England Universities (i10), studying polymers for environmental controlled drug release. This was jointly based out of the Judge Institute of Management, University of Cambridge and Cranfield. He then spent a year at the University of Utah working with Professor Vladimir Hlady (Bioengineering), working on the development of novel imprinting methodologies, before returning to Cranfield to work on several different industrial sponsored commercially sensitive biosensor projects. After this he spent two and a half years at the University of Newcastle, Australia with  Professor Adam McCluskey exploring gas phase detection of explosives.In 2009 Nick moved to the Open University, UK to take up a full academic appointment as a Lecturer on Analytical Science where he worked on the development of multiple new modules across the faculty, alongside projects such as the Open Science Laboratory and MOOC development. In August 2018 he moved to De Montfort University School of Pharmacy in the role of Senior Lecturer, then Reader in Bioanalytical Chemistry.

In 2022, Nick won a prestigious EPSRC Established Career Fellowship to explore the development of artificial chaperones. He was awarded his personal chair in mid-2022. Nick joined the Department of Chemistry at The University of Sheffield in March 2023.


BSc (Hons) - Pharmacology - University of Southampton – 1997
MRes - Biological Research Methods (Biochemistry) - University of Exeter - 1999
PhD - Bio-organic Chemistry - Cranfield University – 2004
Senior Fellowship of Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) - 2016

Research interests

My research interests lie in the field of molecular recognition, and in particular the development of artificial recognition elements. Molecularly Imprinted Polymers (MIP) are a simple elegant biomimetic technology where recognition sites, analogous to the binding sites of antibodies, enzymes and receptors are created in polymeric materials containing complementary functionality to a target molecule. After preparation cavities that are complementary to the shape and chemical profile of the target are formed allowing specific recognition and rebinding. 
MIPs represent a generic, versatile, scalable and cost-effective approach to the creation of synthetic molecular receptors; and are rapidly becoming commercially relevant.

My work is focused on three key areas.

1: Use of MIPs for biosensing.
Through application of MIP recognition, we can create high affinity, highly selective, sensitive sensors able to detect a wide range of analytes in complex mixtures. Examples include pharmaceuticals in river water; performance-enhancing drugs in urine and protein biomarkers for cancers in serum/saliva. We work with SPR, QCM, optical and electrochemical detection methods. Here we consider different types of polymeric materials, (including nanoMIPs, thin films, membranes etc.) all with controllable functionality. As part of this polymer design and composition plays a significant part in these studies.

2: Nucleic-acid-polymer hybrids.
The development of imprinted nanoparticles that are hybrids between nucleic acids and MIPs. Here we have focused on stabilising aptamers towards improving their recognition capabilities. We are also exploring wider use of these materials for multiple applications.

3: Creation of artificial chaperones.
The molecular recognition provided by the MIPs can offer capabilities in modulating function of biological molecules (cell surface proteins, enzymes, receptors etc.). Here we are exploring how targeted selective recognition through nanaoscale imprinting can demonstrate inhibition or activation of protein function; or affect the structural properties of proteins.

I am willing to support PhD applications in the above areas. Please contact me via email.


Journal articles


Conference proceedings papers


Teaching interests

Analytical Chemistry:
Core to all the sciences, understanding of analytical methods and analysis is often forgotten, despite the vital importance it has to nearly all strands of experimental design. My interests lie in developing learning designed to bring analytical understanding and method development to the fore, though combined use of modern instrumentation and online simulations, alongside traditional taught materials.

Pharmacology/ Medicinal Chemistry:
As we move into the digital age, the use of technology to explore drug design and ligand-target interactions is rapidly becoming central to studies, both in the academic and industrial setting. Specifically, here, I am interested in the use of virtual teaching spaces (VR/AR) to support this.

I am willing to support PhD applications in the above areas. Please contact me via email.

Teaching activities

CHM1011 - Analytical Chemistry

Professional activities and memberships
  • Senior Fellowship of Higher Education Academy (SFHEA) - 2016
  • Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Secretary of Macro Group UK

The Pure and Applied Macromolecular Chemistry Group (Macro Group UK) is a joint interest group of the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Society of Chemical Industry. The Group aims to encourage and enhance polymer chemistry in the UK.