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Professor Nigel Slater FREng, FIChemE

Professor Nigel Slater, FREng, FIChemE

Professor of Chemical Engineering

Head of Department


MA, PhD, CEng

Research Interests

BioScience Engineering group

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The Bioscience Engineering Group (BSEG) collaborates widely with academia and industry in the UK, Europe and US to develop novel strategies for the manufacture, formulation and delivery of biopharmaceuticals. The emphasis is on highly potent biological medicines and in recent years the group has worked on the primary and secondary processing of mammalian cell culture products, the processing of serum proteins, viral vaccines and DNA gene therapy vectors. It has shown that HSV-gC binding antagonists cleanly and efficiently release viruses from complementing cells and allow efficient affinity purification of the virus to regulatory standards. Current work has demonstrated that a range of affinity "handles" can be introduced metabolically into the lipid envelope of retroviruses and used for efficient purification or drug delivery. The first demonstrations of the protein affinity isolation of marker tagged pDNA by a zinc-finger-GST and LacI-his6 fusion proteins have been reported and affinity pDNA binding systems have been implemented as part of a practical manufacturing process. These affinity methods have been applied in conventional chromatographic, membrane, ATPS and superparamagnetic nanoparticle mediated purification schemes. 

Work to develop cost-effective production methods for antibody fragments catalysed our awareness of the need for bioprocess simplification. Using simple modular concepts and novel binding ligands we have demonstrated the direct recovery of fragments. We are now embarked upon the development of a disposable, massively-parallel capillary chromatography technology that exploits a patented extruded polymer film for large-scale antibody manufacture. 

BSEG has extended these concepts to drug delivery. It is developing drug targeting methods using biopharmaceuticals attached to superparamagnetic nanoparticles and has demonstrated the manipulation of nanoparticles using an MRI machine. BSEG has also developed a range of biopolymers that facilitate the site specific delivery of biopharmaceutical and imaging payloads. These polymers mimic natural amphipathic proteins that change molecular shape in response to changes in their microenvironment. They have been used for the intracellular delivery of DNA, RNAi, protein and viral therapeutics and the technology has been spun-out into Vivamer Ltd.

Other Professional Activities

Nigel is Head of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at Cambridge, where he holds the Chair of Chemical Engineering 1999.  He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering and President of Fitzwilliam College. Nigel was an undergraduate and graduate student at Sidney Sussex College and began his career as a Research Fellow in Chemistry at Fitzwilliam College in 1978.  In 1979 he was appointed a University Assistant Lecturer in Chemical Engineering and Lecturer in 1982, during the tenure of which he was a Teaching Fellow at Fitzwilliam College.  He was appointed to a Professorial Fellowship upon returning to Cambridge in 2000 and became President of Fitzwilliam College in 2009.

Nigel left academia in 1985 to lead the Bioprocessing Section at Unilever’s research laboratories in the Netherlands where, amongst other projects, he built and operated the first Dutch large-scale facility for the manufacture of a genetically engineered protein, a-galactosidase.  In 1990 he joined Wellcome Biotech to lead the process design for their Welgen (later BWMI) a-interferon manufacturing plant in Rhode Island (US).  He subsequently led Wellcome’s process development activities for the Campath-1H and other monoclonal antibodies.  Nigel was a founding director of Cobra Biomanufacturing Plc, an international GMP provider of biomanufacturing services, and a non-executive director from 2002 to 2010.  He was also a founding director of Angel Technology Ltd, which was awarded the Queen’s Award for Innovation in 2006 and the International Sial d’Or prize for the most innovative new UK nutritional product at the Paris International Food Conference 2004.

Nigel has been an Expert Witness in the High Court (HC 07 C 0268), a member of the Commission on Human Medicines, Biologicals and Vaccines Expert Advisory Group, a Governor of the King Edward VI Schools Foundation (Birmingham) and the BBSRC Silsoe Research Institute.  He was a member Chemical Engineering Sub-Panels for the HEFCE Research Assessment Exercises in 2008 & 2001 and formerly Chairman of the BBSRC Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals Directorate and Member of the BBSRC Technology Interaction Board.


  • vaccines
  • drug delivery
  • gene therapy
  • biopharmaceuticals
  • superparamagnetic
  • nanoparticles
  • formulation
  • affinity separations

Key Publications

Pogodin, S., Slater, N.K.H. and V.A. Baulin (2012). Biomolecule surface patterning may enhance membrane association.  ACS Nano 6(2), 1308-1313.

Lynch, A.L. and N.K.H. Slater (2011). Influence of intracellular trehalose concentration and pre-freeze cell volume on the cryosurvival of rapidly frozen human erythrocytes. Cryobiology 63 (1), 26-31.

Pogodin, S., Slater, N.K.H. and V.A. Baulin (2011). Surface patterning of carbon nanotubes can enhance their penetration through a phospholipid bilayer. ACS Nano 5 (2), 1141–1146.

Lynch, A.L., Chen, R. and N.K.H. Slater (2011). pH-Responsive polymers for trehalose loading and desiccation protection of human red blood cells. Biomaterials 32 (19), 4443-4449.

Ho, V.H.B., Smith, M.J. and N.K.H. Slater (2011). Effect of magnetite nanoparticle agglomerates on the destruction of tumor spheroids using high intensity focused ultrasound. Ultrasound Med. Biol. 37 (1), 169-175.

Ho, V.H.B., N.K.H. Slater and R. Chen (2011). pH-responsive endosomolytic pseudo-peptides for drug delivery to multicellular spheroids tumour models. Biomaterials 32 (11), 2953-2958.

Darton, N.J., Reis, N.M., Mackley M.R. and N.K.H. Slater (2011). Fast cation-exchange separation of proteins in a plastic microcapillary disc.  J. Chromatog. A. 1218(10), 1409-1415.

Hallmark, B., Darton, N.J., James, T., Agrawal, P. and N.K.H. Slater (2010).  Magnetic field strength requirements to capture superparamagnetic nanoparticles within capillary flow.  J. Nanoparticle Res. 12, 2951–2965.

Khormaee, S., Chen, R., Park, J. K. and N.K.H. Slater (2010). The influence of aromatic side chain character on the aqueous and endosomal disruptive properties of pH sensitive, membrane disruptive poly(L-lysine iso-phthalamide) derivatives. J. Biomat Sci-Polym E 21(12), 1573–1588.

Edwards, A.D., Chatterjee, P., Mahbubani, K.T., Reis, C.M. and N.K.H.Slater (2010). Optimal protection of stabilised dry live bacteria from bile toxicity in oral dosage forms by bile acid adsorbent resins. Chem. Eng.Sci. 65(16), 4844-4854.

Chen, R., Folarin, N., Ho, V.H., McNally, D., Darling, D., Farzaneh, F. and N.K.H. Slater (2010).  Affinity recovery of lentivirus by diaminopelargonic acid mediated desthiobiotin labelling. J. Chromatog. B 878(22), 1939-1945.

Lynch, A.L., Chen, R., Dominowski, P.J, Shalaev, E.Y., Yancey, R. and N.K.H. Slater (2010).  Biopolymer mediated trehalose uptake for enhanced erythrocyte cryosurvival.  Biomaterials 31(23), 6096-6103.

Ho, V.H, Müller, K.H., Barcza, A., Chen, R. and N.K.H. Slater (2010).  Generation and manipulation of magnetic multicellular spheroids. Biomaterials 31(11), 3095-3102.

Cheeks M.C., Edwards A.D., Arnot C.J. and  N.K.H. Slater (2010).  Gene Transfection of HEK Cells on Supermacroporous Polyacrylamide Monoliths: A comparison of transient and stable recombinant protein expression in perfusion culture.  N Biotechnol 26(6), 289 – 299.

Barbosa, H.S.C., Hine, A.V., Brocchini, S., Slater, N.K.H. and J.C, Marcos (2010). Dual affinity method for plasmid DNA purification in aqueous two-phase systems.  J. Chromatog. A. 1217, 1429 – 1436.

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