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Fellows Directory

Anne Osbourn

Anne Osbourn

Professor Anne Osbourn OBE FRS


Elected: 2019






Anne Osbourn is a microbial and plant biologist. Her research focuses on plant natural products - biosynthesis, function, and mechanisms of metabolic diversification. An important advance from the Osbourn laboratory has been the discovery that the genes needed to make particular natural products are often organised in clusters in plant genomes like ‘beads on a string’, a finding that has greatly accelerated the discovery of new pathways and chemistries. Anne has established a synthetic biology platform based on transient plant expression that provides rapid access to previously inaccessible natural products and analogs at gram scale. Together these step changes open up new routes to combine genomics and synthetic biology to synthesize and access previously inaccessible natural products and analogs for medicinal, agricultural and industrial applications.

Anne is also a poet, and founded and leads the Science, Art and Writing (SAW) initiative, an interdisciplinary science education outreach programme (

Professional positions

Group Leader, Department of Metabolic Biology, John Innes Centre

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Biochemistry and molecular biology
  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
    • Evolution, Plant sciences / botany
  • Other
    • History of science, Science education at secondary level


Plant natural products – biosynthesis, function, mechanisms of metabolic diversification, metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, industrial biotechnology, interactions between plants and other organisms, cross-disciplinary science education, bringing science into every day life through poetry

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