John Walker

John Walker

Emeritus Director

Understanding the molecular mechanism of how ATP is made.

Energy from the sun is entrapped by photosynthesis and stored in high energy compounds that we consume in food. The energy is released by controlled burning in the mitochondria in the cells of our bodies, and stored in the high energy compound adenosine triphosphate, ATP, the fuel of biology. ATP is made in the mitochondria inside our cells. They are “power stations” full of millions of molecular turbines, the ATP synthases that rotate like man-made turbines and churn out ATP in massive quantities.

We understand most of how these molecular turbines work, but not how rotation is generated. This project will provide the missing information. Bacteria have turbines that differ significantly from the human ones, and they are controlled by different mechanisms. We want to understand these differences in structure, function and regulation so as to devise drugs to kill pathogenic bacteria by stopping their turbines without influencing the human ones.

Research areas

Group Members

Research support

Joe Carroll
Martin Montgomery
Ian Watt

Post-docs

John Bason
Jiuya He
Sidong Liu
Edgar Morales Rios
Alice Zhang

Post-graduate students

Joshua Cremin
Corsten Douglas
Bianca Florea
Holly Ford
Bastiaan Leerkotte
Tobias Spikes

Publications

Biography

Education

1960 - 1969
St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford.
1965 - 1969
Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford.
1969
M. A. and D. Phil. degrees from University of Oxford.

Employment

1969 - 1971
Postdoctoral Fellow at The School of Pharmacy, University of Wisconsin, Madison, U. S. A.
1971 - 1972
NATO Fellow at the CNRS, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.
1972 - 1974
EMBO Fellow at the Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.
1974 - 1982
Scientific Staff Member, The MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge.
1982 - 1987
Senior Scientist, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge.
1987 - 1998
Special Appointment, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge.
1998 - 2013
Founding Director of The MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit (formerly the MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit), Cambridge
1998 - present
Group Leader - Proteomics and ATP synthase

Honours and Awards

1983
Member of The European Molecular Biology Organisation
1995
Fellow of The Royal Society, London
1997
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
1997
Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge
1998
Founding Fellow of The Academy of Medical Sciences, London
1999
Knight Bachelor
1999
Foreign Member of The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
2003
Foreign Member of L’Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Rome, Italy
2004
Foreign Associate of the National Academy of Sciences, U. S. A.
2009
Fellow of the Science Museum, London
2009
Honorary Fellow, Society of Biology, London
2010
The Lee Kong Chian Distinguished Professor, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
2010
The Ahmed Zewail Medal, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, U. S. A.
2011
The Skou Award, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
2011
The Keilin Memorial Medal and Lecture of the Biochemical Society, U. K.
2011
The keys to the city of Bari, Italy
2011
The gold seal of the University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy
2012
The Copley Medical of The Royal Society, London, U. K.
2012
Honorary Gentle Scientist of the Mitochondrial Physiology Society, Austria
2013
Honorary Fellow, The Royal Society of New Zealand
2013
Honorary Fellow of The Academy of Medical Sciences, U. K.
Full list of honours and awards
Named lectures