Professor Kenneth Timmis FRS
Kenneth Timmis has devoted his career to analysing and rebuilding the genetic machinery of bacteria, pioneering many of the essential tools of biotechnology. He has gone on to design and engineer bacterial strategies to remove environmental pollutants from contaminated soil and water.
His early studies of microbial molecular genetics clarified how bacteria reproduce their genetic material in the form of plasmids. He then demonstrated the ‘minimal replicon’, the minimum set of genes needed for a plasmid to reproduce — a concept central to cloning genetically altered bacteria for sequencing or biotechnology — and to clone entire metabolic pathways.
In parallel with his molecular approach, he has made detailed studies of microbial ecology, especially in relation to soils and hydrocarbons, enabling him to design novel biochemical pathways for bioremediation. In 2014, he proposed a strategy to stimulate economic revival in Southern European countries by harnessing the skills of young scientists to create new chemicals.
Interests and expertise