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Professor Nigel K.H. Slater FREng, FIChemE

Professor Nigel K.H. Slater, FREng, FIChemE

Professor of Chemical Engineering

Office Phone: 01223 762953


MA, PhD, CEng

Research Themes

Biotechnology Cluster:

Research Interests

BioScience Engineering group

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 Pro-Vice-Chancellor (elect) for Enterprise and the Region and was recently 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 the Institution of Chemical Engineers. 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 was President of Fitzwilliam College 2009-13.

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

Townsend, M.J., Gruber, D.E., Kuiper, M., Lazar, R.A., Field, R.P., Turner, R.E. and N.K.H. Slater (2015) Functionalised micro-capillary film for the rapid at-line analysis of IgG aggregates in a cell culture bioreactor.  Mabs 7(5), 812 - 819.

Lazar, R.A., Mandal, I. and N.K.H. Slater (2015). Effect of bore fluid composition on microstructure and performance of a microporous hollow fibre membrane as a cation-exchange substrate. J. Chromatog A. 1394, 148-153.

Mandal, I., Townsend, M.J., Darton, N.J., Bonyadi, S. and N.K.H. Slater (2014).  A microporous walled micro-capillary film module for cation-exchange protein chromatography.  J. Membrane Sci. 466, 123-129.

McNally, D.J., Darling, D., Farzaneh, F., Levison, P.R. and N.K.H. Slater (2014). Optimised concentration and purification of retroviruses using membrane chromatography. J. Chromatog A. 1340, 24 - 32.

Mahbubani, K.T., Slater, N.K.H. and A.D. Edwards (2014). Protection of dried probiotic bacteria from bile using bile adsorbent resins.  New Biotechnol. 31(1), 69 - 72.

Gerrard, S.E., Orlu-Gul, M., Tuleu, C. and N. K. H. Slater (2013) Modeling the physiological factors that affect drug delivery from a nipple shield delivery system to breastfeeding infants. J. Pharm Sci. 102, 3773-3783.

Sharp, D.M.C., Picken, A., Morris, T.J., Hewitt, C.J., Coopman, K. and N.K.H. Slater (2013). Amphipathic polymer-mediated uptake of trehalose for dimethyl sulfoxide-free human cell cryopreservation.  Cryobiology. 67(3):305-311.

Khormaee S., Choi Y., Shen M.J., Xu B., Wu H., Griffiths G.L., Chen R., Slater N.K.H. and J.K. Park (2013). Endosomolytic anionic polymer for the cytoplasmic delivery of siRNAs in localized in vivo applications. Advanced Functional Materials 23(5), 565-574.

Gerrard S.E., Larson A.M., Klibanov A.M., Slater N.K.H.,Hanson C.V., Abrams B.F. and M.K. Morris (2013) Reducing infectivity of HIV upon exposure to surfaces coated with N,N-dodecyl, methyl-polyethylenimine.  Biotech. Bioeng. 110(7), 2058 – 2062.

Darton, N.J., Darling, D., Townsend, M.J., McNally, D.J., Farzaneh, F. and N.K.H. Slater (2012). Lentivirus capture directly from cell culture with Q-functionalised microcapillary film chromatography. J. Chromatog A. 1251, 236-239.

Chen L., Rahme K., Holmes J.D., Morris M.A. and Nigel K.H. Slater (2012).  Non-solvolytic synthesis of aqueous soluble TiO2 nanoparticles: real-time dynamic measurements of the nanoparticle formation.  Nanoscale Research Letters 7, 297.

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