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Muhammed Akhtar

Professor Muhammed Akhtar FRS


Elected: 1980


Muhammed Akhtar studies the chemistry and biochemistry of natural products and enzyme mechanisms. Most notable are his experiments on the isomerisations and reductions of double bonds during the transformations of lanosterol to cholesterol and the definition of the stereochemistry of such reactions, which enabled him to formulate a general hypothesis for the mechanism of reduction of double bonds in sterol biochemistry. This led to the discovery of a new class of cytochrome P450s, involved in the biosynthesis of oestrogen and androgen, which catalyse three different generic reactions at the same active site.

Additionally significant are Muhammed’s studies on porphyrin biosynthesis, the stereochemistry of the conversion of glycine to serine, and the synthesis of delta-aminolevulinic acid. His wide interests also include studies on the oestrogen-induced, calcium-binding glycolipophosphoprotein, vitellogenin, in Xenopus and the visual pigment, rhodopsin. Muhammed has served the Council of the Royal Society, was Vice-President, Treasurer and member of The World Academy of Sciences council, and is the recipient of an honorary DSc and Fellowship, from the University of Karachi and University College London, respectively.

Interests and expertise

Subject groups


biosynthesis of sterols, engineering of proinsulin and interferon, Enzyme mechanism, steroid hormones and tetrapyrroles