Douglas Kell

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Douglas Kell

Douglas Kell at Buckingham Palace after receiving his CBE
Douglas Bruce Kell

(1953-04-07) 7 April 1953 (age 70)[1]
Alma materUniversity of Oxford (BA, DPhil)
Known forCEO of BBSRC
Dr Antje Wagner
(m. 1989)
Scientific career
ThesisThe Bioenergetics of Paracoccus denitrificans' (1978)
Doctoral advisor
  • Stuart Ferguson[6]
  • Philip John
Doctoral students

Chief Sci

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 a Co-founder of Epoch Biodesign 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 and led 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]


Kell 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. (UMIST merged with the Victoria University of Manchester in 2004, to become The University of Manchester.) He moved to the University of Liverpool (which was the world's first University to have a Department of Biochemistry) in 2018.

Research and career[edit]

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. His publications are mostly open access and are very widely cited, with an H-index at Google Scholar in excess of 120. 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.[27] 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.[28][29]

With his collaborator Resia Pretorius, Kell discovered the amyloidogenic clotting of blood, involving the amyloidogenic self-assembly of the clotting protein fibrin into highly stable β-sheets that — unlike regular clots — are resistant to plasmin, the enzyme responsible for breaking up clots (fibrinolysis).[30] They report that such amyloidogenic clotting appears to be mostly caused by infectious agents, even in supposedly non-infectious diseases.[31] Kell and Pretorius report that such fibrin amyloid microclots (fibrinaloids) seem to be of major significance in long COVID.[32]

In 1988, he was a Founding Director of Aber Instruments, based at Aberystwyth Science Park (originally at the Centre for Alternative Technology, Machynlleth, Wales). In 2019 he was a Founding Director with Jacob Nathan of Mellizyme Ltd, now Epoch Biodesign. 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).[33][34] His former doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers include Pedro Pedrosa Mendes.[7] His monograph Belief: the baggage behind our being was published in 2018.[35][36]

Awards and honours[edit]

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. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.42346. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  2. ^ "AAAS - 2012 Fellows". Archived from the original on 23 March 2013.
  3. ^ "26 April 2012 - BBSRC Chief Executive elected as Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales - News - BBSRC". Archived from the original on 8 July 2012.
  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.
  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.
  8. ^ "Prof Douglas Kell, research profile - personal details (The University of Manchester)". Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  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.
  10. ^ Van Noorden, Richard (24 November 2008). "Interview: Douglas Kell". Chemistry World. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  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.
  16. ^ "Prof Stuart Ferguson Page - Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford". Archived from the original on 20 May 2013.
  17. ^ Kell, Douglas Bruce (1978). The bioenergetics of paracoccus denitrificans. (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 863351446. EThOS icon of an open green padlock
  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.
  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.
  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.
  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. 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.
  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.
  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. ^ "How Drugs Really Get Into Cells: Why Passive Bilayer Diffusion is a Myth". 30 April 2020. Archived from the original on 15 April 2021.
  28. ^ Kell, Douglas Bruce (9 February 2020). "Protet_PCT model of ETP".
  29. ^ Kell, Douglas B. (2021). "A protet-based, protonic charge transfer model of energy coupling in oxidative and photosynthetic phosphorylation". Advances in Microbial Physiology. Vol. 78. Elsevier. pp. 1–177. doi:10.1016/bs.ampbs.2021.01.001. ISBN 9780128246016. ISSN 0065-2911. PMID 34147184. S2CID 234894761.
  30. ^ Pretorius E, Mbotwe S, Bester J, Robinson CJ, Kell DB (September 2016). "Acute induction of anomalous and amyloidogenic blood clotting by molecular amplification of highly substoichiometric levels of bacterial lipopolysaccharide". J R Soc Interface. 13 (122): 20160539. doi:10.1098/rsif.2016.0539. PMC 5046953. PMID 27605168.
  31. ^ Kell, Douglas B.; Pretorius, Etheresia (2017). "Proteins behaving badly. Substoichiometric molecular control and amplification of the initiation and nature of amyloid fibril formation: lessons from and for blood clotting". Prog. Biophys. Mol. Biol. 123: 6–41. doi:10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2016.08.006. hdl:2263/59001. PMID 27554450.
  32. ^ Kell, Douglas B.; Laubscher, Gert Jacobus; Pretorius, Etheresia (23 February 2022). "A central role for amyloid fibrin microclots in long COVID/PASC: origins and therapeutic implications". Biochemical Journal. 479 (4): 537–559. doi:10.1042/BCJ20220016. eISSN 1470-8728. ISSN 0264-6021. PMC 8883497. PMID 35195253.
  33. ^ UK Government Grants awarded to Douglas Kell, via Research Councils UK
  34. ^ Grants awarded to Douglas Kell by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ 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 CEO of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Succeeded by