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Dr Nicholas Turner

Profile summary

Professional biography


1994-1997   B.Sc.     Pharmacology, University of Southampton, UK.

1998-1999   M.Res.  Biochemistry, University of Exeter, UK.

2000-2004   Ph.D.    Bio-Organic Chemistry. Cranfield University, UK.


Jan 2000 – Jan 2004     Research Assistant, Cranfield University, UK

Mar 2004 – Mar 2005     I10 Enterprise Fellowship, Cranfield University, UK

May 2005 – May 2006    Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Utah, USA

June 2006 – July 2007   Research Officer, Cranfield University, UK

Sept 2007 – June 2009  Research Fellow, University, of Newcastle, Australia

July 2009 – Present       Lecturer in Analytical Science, Open University, UK


I am a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry and I sit on the EPSRC Peer Review College.

I am a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, awarded in recognition for assessment design within our MSc in Medicinal Chemistry.

Research interests

My research interests lie in the field of molecular recognition, and in particular the development of artificial (non-biological) recognition elements. Towards this end I use a technique known as Molecular Imprinting.

Molecularly Imprinted Polymers (MIP) are a simple elegant biomimetic technology where recognition sites, analogous to the binding sites of antibodies, enzymes and receptors are created in polymeric materials containing complementary functionality to a target molecule.  After preparation cavities that are complementary to the shape and chemical profile of the target are formed allowing specific recognition and rebinding. MIPs represent a generic, versatile, scalable and cost-effective approach to the creation of synthetic molecular receptors; and are rapidly becoming commercially relevant.

My work is focused on:

1: MIPs for trace capture and analysis.

Preparation of Solid Phase Extraction (SPE) materials for biomarkers, toxins, pollutants, explosives and pharmaceuticals analysis.  This is a traditional imprinting area where polymers are used as targeted clean-up for further analytical study.

2: Hybrid imprinting using biological materials as monomers

The development of imprinted nanoparticles that are hybrids between aptamers (short chains of single strand DNA that have molecular recognition properties) and MIPs. These apta-MIPs maintained the best properties of both classes of materials. They demonstrated high affinity and specificity, towards their targets. In addition they addressed the stability issues associated with aptamers. This work is in collaboration with Dr Jon Watts (UMass, RTI Institute, USA).

3: Directing molecular action through sterically specific molecular recognition.

MIPs can act as catalysts for chemical and biological reactions, and I have interests in using imprinting to further improve known catalytic materials.

4: Macromolecule Imprinting

Investigating selective rebinding of proteins for biological sample clean-up. I am also interested in developing materials specific for different isoforms of the same protein. These will be used in the development of sensors for early analysis of protein conformational diseases such as Alzheimer's. The same imprints are under study to guide protein folding.

5: Biosensor design

Using MIPs and other recognition elements to generate next-gen biosensor platforms.

Teaching interests

My background is in biochemistry, pharmacology, bio-organic chemistry and analytical chemistry.

I have experience in both traditional face-to-face lectures/seminars and tutorial teaching through previous roles, as well as distance learning from my work at the OU. I am an invited lecturer in the University of Leicester’s Chemistry Department.

At the OU, I teach across the gamut of levels, from supporting general science modules at Level One, analytical chemistry at Level’s Two and Three, through to Medicinal Chemistry at Masters. Given my broad experience I often work in support of a number of courses bringing specialisms where required.

My teaching interests lie in the development of on-line practical experimentation, by remote access. I am leading on the development of HPLC resources that will allow students access to research grade analytical equipment at distance. I am working with Shimadzu UK, and the Open Science Laboratory towards this goal.

I also champion the use of presentation software, such as Blackboard Collaborate and Camtasia for the development of reactive teaching resources, and assessment.


Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Biomedical Research Network (BRN)NetworkFaculty of Science
Centre for Earth, Planetary, Space and Astronomical Research (CEPSAR)CentreFaculty of Science


Application of comprehensive 2D chromatography in the anti-doping field: Sample identification and quantification. (2021-07-15)
Hand, Rachel A.; Bassindale, Thomas; Turner, Nicholas and Morgan, Geraint
Journal of Chromatography B: Analytical Technologies in the Biomedical and Life Sciences, 1178, Article 122584

Effect of polymerisation by microwave on the physical properties of molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs) specific for caffeine (2020-08-12)
Brahmbhatt, Heli A.; Surtees, Alexander; Tierney, Cavan; Ige, Oluwabukunmi A.; Piletska, Elena V.; Swift, Thomas and Turner, Nicholas W.
Polymer Chemistry, 11 (pp. 5578-5789)

Application of molecularly imprinted polymers in the anti-doping field: sample purification and compound analysis (2020)
Hand, Rachel A.; Piletska, Elena; Bassindale, Thomas; Morgan, Geraint and Turner, Nicholas
The Analyst, 145(14) (pp. 4716-4736)

The use of Quartz Crystal Microbalance as an analytical tool to monitor particles/surface and particle/particle interactions in dry ambient and pressurized conditions: a study using common inhaler components (2017-01-07)
Turner, N.W.; Bloxham, M.; Piletsky, S.A.; Whitcombe, M.J. and Chianella, I.
Analyst, 142(1) (pp. 229-236)

Polythiophene nanofilms for sensitive fluorescence detection of viruses in drinking water (2016-08-15)
Wankar, Shashwati; Turner, Nicholas W. and Krupadam, Reddithota J.
Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 82 (pp. 20-25)

Improvement of DNA recognition through molecular imprinting: hybrid oligomer imprinted polymeric nanoparticles (oligoMIP NPs) (2016)
Brahmbhatt, H.; Poma, A.; Pendergraff, H. M.; Watts, J. K. and Turner, N.W.
Biomaterials Science, 4(2) (pp. 281-287)

Development of sample clean up methods for the analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis methyl mycocerosate biomarkers in sputum extracts by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (2015-04-01)
Nicoarǎ, Simona C.; Turner, Nicholas W.; Minnikin, David E.; Lee, Oona Y.-C.; O'Sullivan, Denise M.; McNerney, Ruth; Mutetwa, Reggie; Corbett, Liz E. and Morgan, Geraint
Journal of Chromatography B, 986-987 (pp. 135-142)

Generation of novel hybrid aptamer-molecularly imprinted polymeric nanoparticles (2015-01-27)
Poma, Alessandro; Brahmbhatt, Heli; Pendergraff, Hannah M.; Watts, Jonathan K. and Turner, Nicholas W.
Advanced Materials, 27(4) (pp. 750-758)

Analytical methods for determination of mycotoxins: An update (2009–2014) (2015)
Turner, Nicholas W.; Brahmbhatt, Heli; Szabo-Vezse, Monika; Poma, Alessandro; Coker, Raymond and Piletsky, Sergey A.
Analytica Chimica Acta, 901 (pp. 12-33)

Detection of multiple steroidal compounds in synthetic urine using comprehensive gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC×GC-MS) combined with a molecularly imprinted polymer clean-up protocol (2014-10-07)
Zulfiqar, Adnan; Morgan, Geraint and Turner, Nicholas W.
Analyst, 139(19) (p 4955)

Nucleoside-tailored molecularly imprinted polymeric nanoparticles (MIP NPs) (2014-09)
Poma, Alessandro; Brahmbhatt, Heli; Watts, Jonathan K. and Turner, Nicholas W.
Macromolecules, 47(18) (pp. 6322-6330)

Trifluorosilane induced structural transitions in beta-lactoglobulin in sol and gel (2014-07-01)
Peng, Yun; Turner, Nicholas W. and Britt, David W.
Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, 119 (pp. 6-13)

Spotlight on medicinal chemistry education (2014)
Pitman, Simone; Xu, Yao; Taylor, Peter and Turner, Nicholas
Future Medicinal Chemistry, 6(8) (pp. 865-869)

Influence of surface-imprinted nanoparticles on trypsin activity (2014)
Guerreiro, António; Poma, Alessandro; Karim, Kal; Moczko, Ewa; Takarada, Jessica; de Vargas-Sansalvador, Isabel Perez; Turner, Nicholas; Piletska, Elena; de Magalhães, Cristiana Schmidt; Glazova, Natalia; Serkova, Anastasia; Omelianova, Aleksandra and Piletsky, Sergey
Advanced Healthcare Materials, 3(9) (pp. 1426-1429)

N-2-propenyl-(5-dimethylamino)-1-naphthalene sulfonamide, a novel fluorescent monomer for the molecularly imprinted polymer-based detection of 2,4-dinitrotoluene in the gas phase (2012-10)
Turner, Nicholas; Holdsworth, Clovia; McCluskey, Adam and Bowyer, Michael
Australian Journal of Chemistry, 65(10) (pp. 1405-1412)

Microwave induced MIP synthesis: comparative analysis of thermal and microwave induced polymerisation of caffeine imprinted polymers (2010)
Turner, Nicholas W.; Holdsworth, Clovia I.; Donne, Scott W.; McCluskey, Adam and Bowyer, Michael C.
New Journal of Chemistry, 34(4) (pp. 686-692)

Rapid qualitative and quantitative analysis of opiates in extract of poppy head via FTIR and chemometrics: towards in-field sensors (2009-07-15)
Turner, Nicholas W.; Cauchi, Michael; Piletska, Elena V.; Preston, Christopher and Piletsky, Sergey A.
Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 24(11) (pp. 3322-3328)

Deposition of functionalized polymer layers in surface plasmon resonance immunosensors by in-situ polymerization in the evanescent wave field (2009-01-01)
Chegel, Vladimir; Whitcombe, Michael J.; Turner, Nicholas W. and Piletsky, Sergey A.
Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 24(5) (pp. 1270-1275)

Analytical methods for determination of mycotoxins: A review (2009)
Turner, N. W.; Subrahmanyam, S. and Piletsky, S. A.
Analytica Chimica Acta, 632(2) (pp. 168-180)

Effect of template on the formation of phase-inversed molecularly imprinted polymer thin films: an assessment (2009)
Turner, N. W.; Holmes, N.; Brisbane, C.; McGeachie, A. B.; Bowyer, M. C.; McCluskey, A. and Holdsworth, C. L.
Soft Matter, 5(19) (pp. 3663-3671)

Recognition of conformational changes in β-lactoglobulin via molecularly imprinted thin films (2007-08-01)
Turner, Nicholas W.; Liu, Xiao; Piletsky, Sergey A.; Hlady, Vladimir and Britt, David W.
Biomacromolecules, 8(9) (pp. 2781-2787)

Formation of protein molecular imprints within Langmuir monolayers: a quartz crystal microbalance study (2007-04-01)
Turner, Nicholas; Wright, Bryon E.; Britt, David W. and Hlady, Vladimir
Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 308(1) (71 -80)

From 3D to 2D: A review of the molecular imprinting of proteins (2006)
Turner, Nicholas W.; Jeans, Christopher W.; Brain, Keieth R.; Allender, Christopher J.; Hlady, Vladimir and Britt, David W.
Biotechnology Progress, 22(6) (pp. 1474-1489)

Molecularly imprinted polymers in clinical diagnostics—future potential and existing problems (2006)
Piletsky, Sergey A.; Turner, Nicholas W. and Laitenberger, Peter
Medical Engineering & Physics, 28(10) (pp. 971-977)

Controlled release of the herbicide simazine from computationally designed molecularly imprinted polymers (2005-11)
Piletska, Elena V.; Turner, Nicholas W.; Turner, Anthony P. F. and Piletsky, Sergey A.
Journal of Controlled Release, 108(1) (pp. 132-139)

Book review Mingdi Yan, Olof Ramstrom (Eds.), Molecular Imprinted Materials: Science and Technology, Dekker, New York, 728 pp., ISBN 0-8247-5353-4. (2005-07-15)
Turner, N.
Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 21(1) (pp. 223-224)

Effect of the solvent on recognition properties of molecularly imprinted polymer specific for ochratoxin A (2004-12-15)
Turner, Nicholas W.; Piletska, Elena V.; Karim, Khalku; Whitcombe, Michael; Malecha, Michael; Magan, Naresh; Baggiani, Claudio and Piletsky, Sergey A.
Biosensors and Bioelectronics, 20(6) (pp. 1060-1067)

Surface functionalization of porous polypropylene membranes with polyaniline for protein immobilization (2003-01-31)
Piletsky, Sergey; Piletska, Elena; Bossi, Alessandra; Turner, Nicholas and Turner, Anthony
Biotechnology and Bioengineering, 82(1) (pp. 86-92)

Nanoscale prion detection (2007)
Dhruv, Harshil; Turner, Nicholas and Britt, David
In: Heldman, Dennis R. ed. Encyclopedia of Agricultural, Food, and Biological Engineering
ISBN : 978-0824709389 | Publisher : Taylor & Francis

Microwave induced MIP synthesis: comparative analysis of thermal and microwave induced polymerisation of caffeine imprinted polymers (2010)
Turner, N.; Holdsworth, CI.; Donne, S.; McCluskey, A. and Bowyer, M. C.
In : Molecular Imprinting Congress 2010 (9-12 Aug 2010, New Orleans)

Effect of template of the formation of phase-inversed molecularly imprinted thin films (2008)
Turner, N.; Brisbane, C.; Holmes, N.; McGeachie, A. B.; Holdsworth, C. I.; Bowyer, M. C. and McCluskey, A.
In : Molecular Imprinting Congress 2008 (7-11 Sep 2008, Kobe, Japan)

Recognition of induced conformational changes in β-lactoglobulin via molecularly imprinted thin films (2008)
Turner, N.; Liu, X.; Kay, M. S.; Piletsky, S. A.; Hlady, V. and Britt, D. W.
In : Biosensors 2008 (14-16 May 2008, Shanghai, China)