Douglas Kell

Douglas Kell

Douglas Bruce Kell

(1953-04-07) 7 April 1953 (age 68)[1]
Nationality United Kingdom
Education Bradfield College
Alma mater University of Oxford (BA, PhD)
Known for CEO of BBSRC
Dr Antje Wagner
( m. 1989)
Children one son, two daughters[1]
Scientific career
Thesis The Bioenergetics of Paracoccus denitrificans (1978)
Doctoral advisor
  • Stuart Ferguson[6]
  • Philip John
Doctoral students

Douglas Bruce Kell CBE FRSB FLSW[4] (born 7 April 1953)[1] is a British biochemist and Research Professor of Systems Biology in the Institute of Systems, Molecular and Integrative Biology at the University of Liverpool, and Chief Scientific Officer of Mellizyme Ltd. He was previously at the School of Chemistry at the University of Manchester, based in the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology (MIB).[8] He founded the Manchester Centre for Integrative Systems Biology. He served as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) from 2008 to 2013.[9][10][11][12][13][14]


He was educated at Hydneye House in Sussex,[15] Bradfield College in Berkshire (where he was Top Scholar) and St John's College, Oxford. He graduated from the University of Oxford with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biochemistry in 1975 (with a Distinction in Chemical Pharmacology) followed by a Doctor of Philosophy in 1978 with a thesis on the Bioenergetics of Paracoccus denitrificans, supervised by Stuart Ferguson[6][16] and Philip John.[17]

From 1978 to 2002 he worked at Aberystwyth University, moving to the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in 2002 as an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)/Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Research Chair in Bioanalytical Sciences. He moved to the University of Liverpool in 2018.

Research and career

Kell's primary research interests are in systems biology, synthetic biology and computational biology.[5] He has also been heavily involved in the development of multivariate scientific instrumentation and the attendant machine learning software (his first paper on artificial neural networks was in 1992). He has written extensively on the role of microbes as agents of supposedly 'non-communicable', chronic infectious diseases. According to Google Scholar[5] his most cited peer-reviewed research papers are in functional genomics,[18] metabolomics[19] and the yeast genome.[20] He has also been involved in research to create a robot scientist[21] in collaboration with Ross King, Stephen Muggleton and Steve Oliver as well as several projects in systems biology.[22][23][24][25][26] He is heavily involved in the study of membrane transporters, and their necessary involvement in the transmembrane uptake of pharmaceutical drugs. An online talk and animation are available. He tends to choose scientific problems in which the prevailing orthodoxy is clearly incorrect. To this end, he has recently returned to the study of bioenergetics, summarising the detailed evidence against the prevailing wisdom of chemiosmotic coupling in oxidative and photosynthetic phosphorylation, replacing it with a protet-based model (an animation is available). His publications are mostly open access and are very widely cited, with an H-index at Google Scholar well in excess of 100.

In 1988, he was a Founding Director of Aber Instruments, based on Aberystwyth Science Park (it was originally located at the Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth, Wales). In 2019 he was a Founding Director with Jacob Nathan of Mellizyme Ltd. He cofounded PhenUTest Ltd in 2021.

He is an Associated Scientific Director of the Centre for Biosustainability at the Technical University of Denmark, where he runs the Flux Optimisation and BioAnalytics Group.

Kell's research has been funded by the EU, the BBSRC, the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).[27][28] His former doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers include Pedro Pedrosa Mendes.[7] His freely available (downloadable here) monograph Belief: the baggage behind our being examines why (despite all available evidence) people believe crazy things (like Brexit)[29] and was published in 2018.[30]

Awards and honours

Kell was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2014 New Year Honours, for services to science and research.[4] Kell is also a Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales (FLSW), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB) and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (FAAS).


  1. ^ a b c d e Anon (2007). "KELL, Prof. Douglas Bruce". Who's Who. (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.42346. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
  2. ^ "AAAS - 2012 Fellows". Archived from the original on 18 February 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "26 April 2012 - BBSRC Chief Executive elected as Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales - News - BBSRC". Archived from the original on 27 April 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b c "No. 60728". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2013. p. 9.
  5. ^ a b c Douglas Kell publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  6. ^ a b Kell, D.; John, P.; Ferguson, S. (1978). "The protonmotive force in phosphorylating membrane vesicles from Paracoccus denitrificans. Magnitude, sites of generation and comparison with the phosphorylation potential". The Biochemical Journal. 174 (1): 257–266. doi:10.1042/bj1740257. PMC 1185905. PMID 212022. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ a b Mendes, Pedro Pedrosa (1994). Computer simulation of the dynamics of biochemical pathways (PhD thesis). University of Aberystwyth. Archived from the original on 14 April 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Prof Douglas Kell, research profile - personal details (The University of Manchester)". Retrieved 12 June 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "19 June 2012 - Reappointment of Chief Executive for the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council - News - BBSRC". Archived from the original on 26 June 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Van Noorden, Richard (24 November 2008). "Interview: Douglas Kell". Chemistry World. Retrieved 7 June 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ Interview with Douglas Kell on the website of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  12. ^ Douglas Kell author profile page at the ACM Digital Library
  13. ^ Douglas Kell publications from Europe PubMed Central
  14. ^ Kell, D. B.; Lurie-Luke, E (2015). "The virtue of innovation: Innovation through the lenses of biological evolution". Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 12 (103): 20141183. doi:10.1098/rsif.2014.1183. PMC 4305420. PMID 25505138.
  15. ^ "Hydneye House - a set on Flickr". Archived from the original on 25 April 2013. Retrieved 18 January 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "Prof Stuart Ferguson Page - Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford". Archived from the original on 20 May 2013. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ Kell, Douglas Bruce (1978). The bioenergetics of paracoccus denitrificans. (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 863351446. EThOS CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) Free to read
  18. ^ Oliver, S. G.; Teusink, L. M.; Broadhurst, B.; Zhang, D.; Hayes, N.; Walsh, A.; Berden, M. C.; Brindle, J. A.; Kell, K. M.; Rowland, D. B.; Westerhoff, J. J.; Van Dam, H. V.; Oliver, K. (2001). "A functional genomics strategy that uses metabolome data to reveal the phenotype of silent mutations". Nature Biotechnology. 19 (1): 45–50. doi:10.1038/83496. PMID 11135551. S2CID 15491882. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ Goodacre, R.; Vaidyanathan, S.; Dunn, W. B.; Harrigan, G. G.; Kell, D. B. (2004). "Metabolomics by numbers: Acquiring and understanding global metabolite data". Trends in Biotechnology. 22 (5): 245–252. doi:10.1016/j.tibtech.2004.03.007. PMID 15109811. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ Oliver, S.; Winson, M.; Kell, D.; Baganz, F. (1998). "Systematic functional analysis of the yeast genome". Trends in Biotechnology. 16 (9): 373–378. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/S0167-7799(98)01214-1. PMID 9744112. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. ^ King, R. D.; Whelan, K. E.; Jones, F. M.; Reiser, P. G. K.; Bryant, C. H.; Muggleton, S. H.; Kell, D. B.; Oliver, S. G. (2004). "Functional genomic hypothesis generation and experimentation by a robot scientist". Nature. 427 (6971): 247–252. Bibcode:2004Natur.427..247K. doi:10.1038/nature02236. PMID 14724639. S2CID 4428725. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) closed access
  22. ^ Kell, Douglas (2009). "Journal club: A systems biologist ponders how disparate ideas can sometimes come together beautifully". Nature. 460 (7256): 669. Bibcode:2009Natur.460..669K. doi:10.1038/460669e. PMID 19661875. S2CID 1857476. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  23. ^ Dobson, P. D.; Smallbone, K.; Jameson, D.; Simeonidis, E.; Lanthaler, K.; Pir, P.; Lu, C.; Swainston, N.; Dunn, W. B.; Fisher, P.; Hull, D.; Brown, M.; Oshota, O.; Stanford, N. J.; Kell, D. B.; King, R. D.; Oliver, S. G.; Stevens, R. D.; Mendes, P. (2010). "Further developments towards a genome-scale metabolic model of yeast". BMC Systems Biology. 4: 145. doi:10.1186/1752-0509-4-145. PMC 2988745. PMID 21029416.
  24. ^ Pir, P.; Gutteridge, A.; Wu, J.; Rash, B.; Kell, D. B.; Zhang, N.; Oliver, S. G. (2012). "The genetic control of growth rate: A systems biology study in yeast". BMC Systems Biology. 6: 4. doi:10.1186/1752-0509-6-4. PMC 3398284. PMID 22244311. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  25. ^ Douglas B. Kell at DBLP Bibliography Server Edit this at Wikidata
  26. ^ Douglas Kell's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
  27. ^ UK Government Grants awarded to Douglas Kell, via Research Councils UK
  28. ^ Grants awarded to Douglas Kell by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  29. ^ Kell, Doug (15 March 2018). "We have written a free book (monograph) on why people believe crazy things, including #Brexit ". Twitter @dbkell. Retrieved 19 March 2018.
  30. ^ Kell DB, Welch GR (2018) Belief: the baggage behind our being. OSF preprints doi:10.17605/OSF.IO/PNXCS open access
Government offices
Preceded by
Julia Goodfellow
CEO of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Succeeded by
Jackie Hunter

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