Centre for Synthetic Biology and the Bioeconomy

Staff Profile

Professor Grant Burgess

Professor of Marine Biotechnology



Professor J Grant Burgess is a marine microbiologist who completed his first degree in biotechnology at Queen Elizabeth College, University of London (now Kings College). After a PhD in molecular biology from Imperial College under Neil Hunter (FRS), he worked in Tokyo for five years in the field of Marine Biotechnology. He then took up a lectureship in Marine Biotechnology at Heriot-Watt University where he worked in the area of marine microbial ecology investigating microbial antagonism and production of antibiotics from marine bacteria. In October 2005 he took up his current post at Newcastle where he works on marine microbial biofilms and applied marine microbiology.


  • BSc (Hons) in Biotechnology, Queen Elizabeth College, University of London, 1986
  • PhD, Molecular Biology, Imperial College, University of London, 1990

Previous Positions

  • 1994 - 2005   Reader in Marine Biotechnology, School of Life Sciences, Heriot-Watt University
  • 1993 - 1994   Assistant Professor, Department of Biotechnology, Tokyo Univ. of Agriculture and Technology
  • 1991 - 1992   Research Fellow, Japan Society for Promotion of Science, Tokyo Univ. Agric. and Technology
  • 2005 - 2011   Director, Dove Marine Laboratory

Honours and Awards

  • Winner of the John Logie Baird Award for Innovation in 2000, for research and development of novel environmentally friendly antifouling paints.
  • Co-founder of the Journal of Marine Biotechnology, the first journal in this field, in 1993 and negotiator of its merger with the later US journal Marine Molecular Biology and Biotechnology to create the journal “Marine Botechnology”. This journal won the award for Best New Academic Journal at the American Publishers Awards in 2000.
  • Carnegie Trust Centenary Visiting Professor in Marine Biotechnology.
  • Runner Up. Medical Futures award 2011 for project on use of nucleases in oral health
  • Innovator of the Year award, 2014
  • BioNow Best biomedical project of the year, 2014


Undergraduate Teaching

I contribute to the following undergraduate modules;

  • MST1101:Marine Biology
  • MST1104:Marine Study Skills
  • MST2101:Marine Ecology
  • MST2104:Marine Research and Employability Skills
  • MST2105:Marine Practical Skills
  • MST3101:Advanced Marine Biology
  • MST3104:Research Project: Marine Biology
  • MST3105:Research Project: Marine Zoology
  • MST3106:Research Project: Marine Biology and Oceanography


Postdoc position now available:

The vacancy is now live externally and will close at midnight 2nd September 2019.

The vacancy can be found at the following link :https://bit.ly/2T5iu39

Research Interests

Marine Biotechnology

Novel bioactive compounds from marine bacteria, chemical defense in marine microbes, antifouling compounds from marine bacteria, microbiology of deep sea sediments, sponge microbiology. Regulation of biofilm production and biofilm dispersal in marine Bacillus licheniformis, and more recently marine fermentation and bioprocessing / biotechnological applications of microbial nucleases.

Current Work

Understanding biofilm dispersal in marine microbial biofilms
Postgraduate Supervision (Newcastle University)
  • Tristano Bachetti De Gregoris (PhD awarded Summer 2011) co-supervised with Prof Tony Clare
  • Jinwei Zhang (PhD awarded May 2011)
  • Nithya Rajarajan (PhD)
  • Jodie Symington (EngD)
  • Chelsea Brain (EngD)
  • Rob Shields (PhD, 2010 - 2014)
  • Rekha Subramanian (MPhil 2010-11)
  • Sarah Smith (MSc Industrial and Commercial Biotechnology 2011)
  • Aggie Cangardel (MPhil 2011-12)
  • Chris Armsby (MPhil 2012-13)
  • Edward Mason (MPhil 2012-13)
  • Kawther Al-Belushi (PhD 2012-2016)
  • Andrea Pujol (MD 2012-16)
  • Martin Marsh (MD 2013-2016)

Esteem Indicators

  • 1993 Co-founded the Journal of Marine Biotechnology in Tokyo
  • 2000 Invited Member of the Steering Committee, NERC Thematic Programme in Marine and Freshwater Microbial Biodiversity (Total budget ~£8m)
  • 2000 Invited organiser of three international conferences
  • 2000 Six keynote lectures at international conferences invited in the last three years
  • 2000 Invited expert referee for national proposals in Marine Biotechnology for Ireland, USA, Norway and Singapore
  • 2002 Appointed Editor in Chief of “Marine Biotechnology”, presiding over a steadily rising Impact Factor
  • 2005 Invited onto Management Board of DTI’s £3.5m Knowledge Transfer Network in Biotechnology for Business
  • 2005 Appointed to the UK’s first Chair in Marine Biotechnology
  • 2005 Appointed Director of the Dove Marine Laboratory until 2011
  • 2005 Appointed to Senate as Faculty representative
  • 2006 Awarded SAGE Faculty Teaching Fellowship for the project Beyond Powerpoint
  • 2006 Joy Welch Educational Trust Award