Dr Gary Robinson
Senior Lecturer in Microbial Biotechnology / Senior Commercialisation Manager
School of Biosciences
- 01227 (82)3530
Dr Gary Robinson is a Senior Lecturer in Microbial Technology within the School of Biosciences and Director of Innovation & Enterprise (0.5 FTE) and is the Senior Commercialisation Manager of the University (O.5 FTE).
Gary has been a lecturer since the 90's and has worked in the field of applied microbiology covering areas as diverse as microbial transformations for the production of high value-added compounds such as drugs and fragrances to the biocontrol of the housefly, Musca domestica. Current research has focused on the understanding and application of quorum sensing within complex microbial systems, the use of biocatalysts within the paper industry and the large scale production of Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi. All projects undertaken with MSc and PhD students funded by the University, EU and Industry. Gary has worked with a variety of small and large companies including Pfizer, Smith Kline Beecham, Quest international, Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser, Whatman and Genzyme. Dr Robinson has extensive experience of measuring (trace) analytes from the (bio)pharmaceutical (eg proteins, peptides and drug metabolites) and environmental (eg PCBs, PAHs, volatiles) sectors as well as the enumeration and identification of a wide variety of microbial species (bacterial and fungal) in a diversity of matrices (soil, sediment, food, beverage and clinical).
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Work in the laboratory has focussed on the cultivation, characterisation and application of a range of biocatalysts for a variety of end uses. With support from a range of funders (industry, EU and University in recent times) the group has investigated a range of projects that have relevance to industry, health and the environment.
Current research focuses on inter-microbial (e.g. bacteria/fungi and bacteria /algae) communication in attached and planktonic cultures. Extending from this is to better understand and characterise the composition and communication (e.g. with quorum sensing and outer membrane vesicle [OMV]) of microbial communication systems in Gram negative (e.g. E.coli) and Gram positive (e.g. Streptomyces) bacteria. Currently the following systems are under investigation:
(i) Microalgal / bacterial – working with Algaecytes as part of a BBSRC FLIP we are trying to understand the (temporal) composition and interactions in their proprietary microalgal strains when grown under a variety of growth conditions, from bench to large scale PBR (photobioreactor). Microbiome is being characterised by community RFLP using a range of 16S rRNA and other functional probes followed by sequencing.
(ii) Outer membrane vesicle (OMV) synthesis – funded by an EARC SynBio Studentship to Sarah Blackburn, working to understand the biogenesis, molecular composition and function of OMVs in a variety of systems, principally from Burkholderia cenocepacia, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli. The proteome and nucleic acid (NA) composition of the arising OMVs are being characterised in inter-microbial systems to better understand their function and underpin their modification by synthetic biology for application as biocatalysts for vaccines etc.
(iii) The microbiome of overactive bladder syndrome (OBS) – as part of an MD study and working along with urogynaecology clinicians at The Medway NHS Foundation Trust we are investigating the causes of OBS and possible implication of associated microbiota/ microbiome in the aetiology of the disease. Microbiome is being characterised by community RFLP using a range of 16S rRNA and other functional probes followed by sequencing.
Recent projects within the laboratory have investigated the following:
Understanding virulence regulation and intermicrobial interactions in the fungal pathogen Candida albicans
The PhD project was undertaken by Ms Luisa De Sordi, a University Scholarship holder, and investigated the use of Drosophila melanogaster as a model for C. albicans infection. Specific transcriptional regulators were identified in the screen. Additionally, the communicome that exists on solid media between 2 co-existing pathogens, Candida albicans and Burkholderia cenocepacia, was studied.
The role of tfdK in 2,4D metabolism in the bacterium Burkholderia cepacia Strain 2a
The PhD project was undertaken by Ms Qiaoyi Lin, an EU scholarship holder, and investigated the regulation of 24D metabolism in B. cepacia 2a. The plasmid borne metabolism of the haloaromatic pesticide was studied in a range of culture conditions and the role of tfdK, a putative aromatic transporter was investigated.
Investigations into the in vitro cultivation of Glomus intraradices spores
The part time MSc (by research) was undertaken by Mrs Natalia Gulbis with funding from her employer, PlantWorks Ltd., an SME based at Kent Science Park. The study investigated the factors that influence the in vitro cultivation of the sought after spores of this Arbuscular Mycorrhizal fungus. This method of cultivation highlighted a possible role for an associated microbiome and the cultivation was compared and contrasted with that undertaken in planta.
Use of biocatalysts in the manufacture of high value papers
This MSc (by research) was undertaken by Ms Agnieszka Wieckowska with funding from Arjowiggins. The project investigated the role of enzymes in the processing of pulp and paper. The application of such enzymes highlighted the binding and catalytic events that underpin the processing of an insoluble, non-homogenous substrate such as cellulose and work is ongoing to characterise this further.
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- BI308 Skills for Bioscientists
- BI323 – Biodiversity
- BI548 – Microbial Physiology & Genetics I
- BI521 – Metabolism and Metabolic Regulation
- BI606 – Pathogens & Pathogenicity
- BI628 - Microbial Physiology & Genetics II
- BI600 Projects – Range of laboratory, communication and dissertation projects but principal supervisor for all Business Plan projects
- BI841 – The Science of Reproductive Medicine
- EL885 / EL878 / EL849 – Research Methods modules in Engineering & Digital Arts
- Graduate School Modules in Ideation and Intellectual property
Gary is seconded for half his time to Kent Innovation and Enterprise where he acts as the Senior Commercialisation Manager for the University. In this role Gary and his team have been responsible for the protection and exploitation of a variety of technologies, principally those arising from Engineering & Digital Arts, Biosciences, Computing and SPS. This has realised revenues in fields as diverse as antenna components in the Volvo XC90 and the production of biopharmaceuticals. Gary is additionally the Director of Enterprise within the School of Biosciences primarily managing the protection and exploitation of arising IP within the School – please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to know more.