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Fellows Directory

James Naismith

James Naismith

Professor James Naismith FMedSci FRS


Elected: 2014




Jim Naismith is a structural biologist who uses X-ray crystallography to determine the composition and three-dimensional configuration of proteins and their constituent parts. His research lies at the interface of chemistry and biology and has revealed much about the function of proteins involved in the production, recognition and export of diverse molecules in cells.

His efforts have provided insightful examples of the recognition of carbohydrates and nucleic acids in cells, such as the proteins that mediate the CRISPR response in archea and bacteria. His work on enzymes has revealed several novel mechanisms for nucleophilic substitution and addition reactions.

Jim’s current research aims to understand how bacteria sense internal pressure through channels in their membranes, triggering a release of ions that allows them to avoid bursting. He is also interested in the synthesis of unusual biological molecules, including cyclic peptides and lipid-linked sugars. His results have been acknowledged by several awards, including the Biochemical Society’s Colworth Medal, and the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Corday–Morgan Medal and Jeremy Knowles Award.

Professional positions

Professor of Structural Biology, Division of Structural Biology, University of Oxford

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry, biological, Chemistry, general, Chemistry, organic
  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Biochemistry and molecular biology, Biophysics and structural biology, Molecular microbiology


Crystallography, Enzyme mechanism, Lipids, Synthetic biology

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