Dr Peter Nicholls

Dean of KentHealth

About

Peter is a cell and molecular biologist with 30 years of experience working at the interfaces between academia, industry and clinical research. After graduating from the University of Southampton with a BSc in Biochemistry, he completed a PhD at the University of London where he developed a novel DNA-based screening method for identifying and typing human papillomavirus (HPV) infections in clinical samples.

He then moved on to undertake post-doctoral studies at the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, MD, USA) taking up a Fogarty Visiting International Fellowship in the laboratory of Richard Youle (National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke). The main focus of his work was developing our understanding of the mechanisms by which bacterial toxins penetrate and kill human cells, and exploring new rationally engineered antibody-targeted therapies that harness the power of bacterial toxins for the treatment of cancer.

After a period developing this work further as a Visiting Associate in Jerry Keith’s laboratory at the National Institute for Dental Research (Bethesda, MD, USA), Peter returned to the UK as a research scientist working for one of the first UK-based antibody engineering companies – Celltech – based in Slough. Here he contributed to a newly formed research group focussing on the application of engineered antibodies and their fragments for the treatment of cancer and autoimmune disease.

After two years in industry, the call of academia became strong, and Peter took up an academic post in the Department of Biosciences at the University of Kent, where he has been based since 1995. In his time at Kent, Peter’s research has continued to focus on therapeutic applications of engineered antibodies, and he has secured funding from a variety of sources including the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), The Royal Society, and the Technology Strategy Board (TSB).

His work on the development of a novel targeted radio-immunotherapy approach for the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) was generously supported for 8 years by the UK-based research charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. Peter has successfully supervised seven PhD students, numerous Master’s students, and he continues to enjoy teaching undergraduate students immunology, cancer biology and haematology.

Academic career

Dr. Peter Nicholls has served as the Deputy Head of the School of Biosciences for four years, and was Master of Eliot College for a period. He is currently the Faculty of Sciences Director of Internationalisation, and was delighted to take on the role of Dean of KentHealth in the summer of 2014. He relishes the challenge of building on the considerable success of his predecessor Professor Peter Jeffries, and looks forward to working closely with colleagues in higher education institutions, hospital trusts and industry in Kent, Surrey and Sussex to enhance medically-related research and training in the region and beyond.

Publications