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Fellows Directory

Kenneth Timmis

Kenneth Timmis

Professor Kenneth Timmis FRS


Elected: 2008


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.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Molecular microbiology
  • Microbiology, immunology and developmental biology
    • General microbiology (incl bacteriology and virology)
  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
    • Environmental biology
  • Health and human sciences
    • Medical microbiology
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