Professor Anthony Watts
Department of Biochemistry
University of Oxford
South Parks Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1865 613200
Research page



Professor Andrew Turberfield
Clarendon Laboratory
University of Oxford
Parks Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1865 272359
Research page

Anthony Watts
is chair of the British Biophysical Society (2003 - 2007; 2009 - on), and has served on the committee in earlier years. He gained his biophysics training in Leeds in the Astbury Department of Biophysics (BSc 1972; PhD 1976) and has used a highly interdisciplinary biophysical approach in the study of proteins and lipids in model and natural membranes. This work has been in three phases, beginning with graduate work on thermodynamic studies of lipids in liposomal and model systems, followed by post-doctoral research into structural and functional studies of the molecular specificity of lipid-protein in membranes (Max Plank Institute for Biophysics, Göttingen, Germany, 1976 - 1980). Since returning to an independent faculty position in Oxford (1980), new methodologies have been developed, initially around wide-line NMR (1980-2000) but then high resolution solid state NMR (1994-2009) for the study of biomolecular systems with specific application for resolving high resolution (sub-Å) structural and dynamic details of ligand- and drug-receptor interactions in the absence of other structural information (Watts, 2005, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, 4, 555-568; invited review).

During this time, most biophysical methods have been employed, and resulting publications include the use of NMR, ESR, ultracentrifugation, diffraction/scattering (X-ray, optical and neutron), differential scanning calorimetry, electron microscopy, CD, FRET, ATIR, membrane protein crystallizations, SPR, peptide synthesis and computational approaches, as well as molecular biology for expression, mutagenesis, in-gel fluorescence, PCR, fermentation, directed isotope labelling and novel membrane protein reconstitutions.  The general approach is thus to address a system in a “hypothesis driven” approach aimed at understanding biology with a range of appropriate methods, rather than specialize in one method. 

He has trained 54 graduates in biophysics and was an Associate Editor of the Biophysical Journal (2000 - 2007), managing Editor of the European Biophysics Journal since 2000, and is a member of the EBSA executive committee. He has also been recognized by major national and international Societies with 15 awards, including from the Royal Society of Chemistry (Biomembrane Award and Interdisciplinary Award), the Biochemical Society (UK) (Morton Medal) and the American Biophysical Society (Anatrace Award, 2015), and has been elected a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Society of Biology and the American Biophysical Society.

Andrew Turberfield
was a founder committee member of the Biological Physics Group of the Institute of Physics and served as its Chair from 2010-2013. He leads the DNA Nanostructures research group, part of the Biological Physics section of the Department of Physics, University of Oxford. This group is one of the leaders of a rapidly developing interdisciplinary research field based on self-assembly programmed through molecular recognition; it is exploring the limits of biomimetic nanometre-scale construction by biomolecular self-assembly. This research is driven by interest in the construction process itself and by the new science and technologies to which it can lead.

Andrew's background is in solid state physics: he used time-resolved spectroscopy to study hot carrier relaxation in quantum wells and developed new spectroscopies of correlated states of 2D electrons in the fractional quantum Hall regime. His work on microstructured photonic materials included the invention, with Prof. Bob Denning, of a method for 3D optical lithography that has been widely adopted. With Prof. Bernie Yurke at Lucent Technologies’ Bell Laboratories he produced the first synthetic molecular machine made from and fuelled by DNA and demonstrated the principle of DNA hybridization catalysis – these two papers underpin almost all current research into DNA-based molecular computation and synthetic molecular machinery. His group were the first to show that three-dimensional DNA nanostructures can be produced in a single-step reaction with near-quantitative yield, opening the way to exploration of applications of DNA nanostructures in other areas of science and technology. Two- and three-dimensional DNA nanostructures can act as templates for the assembly of functional components and as active devices such as switches and molecular motors. AJT’s current research includes the study of synthetic molecular structures and machinery, including their use for the control of chemical synthesis, protein structure determination and as intracellular probes.

Andrew is a Fellow of the Institute of Physics. He holds a Royal Society – Wolfson Research Merit Award, and has received an EPSC Senior Fellowship, the Rozenberg Tulip Award and the Tabor Medal of the Institute of Physics.

Twitter #Biophysics2017

Key dates

  • Bursaries deadline:

    10 March 2017

  • Poster award deadline:

    24 March 2017

  • Abstract submission deadline:

    24 March 2017

  • Early registration deadline:
    14 April 2017
  • Presenters registration deadline:
    1 May 2017
  • Registration deadline:
    5 July 2017