University of Manchester


Eriko Takano – Professor of Synthetic Biology

Eriko has an internationally leading position in synthetic biology of antibiotic production and has worked extensively with Streptomyces coelicolor, the model organism of the major group of commercial antibiotic producers. She has been working in both industrial and academic research for 26 years. Areas of expertise of the Takano group include bioinformatics software development for designing natural products producers (e.g. antiSMASH, MultiGeneBlast); untargeted metabolomics for chassis engineering in Streptomyces; secondary metabolite biosynthesis pathway assembly; regulatory circuits engineering through signalling molecules; translational control using noncoding RNAs; biosynthetic pathway engineering; systems biology of the metabolic switch from primary to secondary metabolism.  Personal profile

Rainer Breitling – Professor of Systems Biology

Rainer has expertise in natural products, synthetic biology, and bioinformatics/modelling for systems biology and postgenomic research. Research interests of the Breitling group include the development of novel bioinformatics tools for the discovery of secondary metabolite biosynthetic gene clusters in microbial genomes (including the highly popular and widely used antiSMASH software and MultiGeneBlast tool) and the statistical analysis of postgenomic datasets, such as metabolome and transcriptome profiles, for which we have developed a suite of computational tools, including mzMatch, RankProducts and Pep2Path. Another area of active research in the Breitling group is the computational design of microbial factories for antibiotics production by SynBio, which employs and develops a diversity of modelling approaches, ranging from ODE-based dynamic models to genome-scale constraint-based modelling.  Personal profile

Jane Gilsenan – Project Manager

Jane has a post-doctoral research background in bioinformatics, specialising in fungal genome annotation and data management. From 2013 to 2016, Jane worked within the Manchester Fungal Infection Group, project managing and contributing to research on the EC FP7 NOFUN project. From September 2016 to January 2018, she joined the Nanaomedicine Lab as the project manager, with part of her time covering management of the EPSRC 2D-Health project. In February 2018, Jane joined the Takano group as project manager for the TOPCAPI project.

Francesco Del Carratore – Post Doctoral Researcher

Francesco received his Bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering and his Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cagliari (Italy). Francesco then completed his PhD at the University of Manchester under the supervision of Prof Rainer Breitling. His thesis focused on the development and implementation of novel computational tools for systems and synthetic biology. Currently, Francesco is working as a post-doctoral researcher in Prof Rainer Breitling group focusing on the processing and analysis of metabolomics data and on the building and analysis of different genome-scale metabolic models for the TOPCAPI project.

Alkisti Manousaki – Research Technician

Alkisti received her MRes in Biological Sciences (2015) and BBSRC DTP-funded PhD (2019) from the University of Manchester. During her PhD, she worked on the development of novel, highly-advanced microscopy techniques that can be used to achieve absolute quantification of low abundance mitochondrial proteins in yeast and its hybrids. Currently, Alkisti is working in the Takano group focusing on the LC/MS-based metabolomic analysis in the TOPCAPI project.

Oksana Bilyk – Post Doctoral Researcher

Oksana completed her PhD at the Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research (HIPS, Saarbrücken, Germany) under the supervision of Prof Andriy Luzhetskyy. Oksana’s PhD work was focused on genome mining of Actinobacteria, the identification of natural product biosynthetic gene clusters and their subsequent engineering. After completing her degree, Oksana joined the group of Prof Peter F Leadlay at the University of Cambridge as a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Research Associate. There, Oksana’s research was focused on the generation of novel derivatives of industrially-relevant antibiotics and enzymology of polyketides biosynthesis. Currently, Oksana is a postdoctoral researcher in the group of Prof Eriko Takano (University of Manchester, UK), where she is working on the optimisation of production of high-value pharmaceuticals in Actinobacteria.

Erik Hanko – Post Doctoral Researcher

Erik obtained his PhD from the University of Nottingham where he worked on the identification, characterisation and application of metabolite-inducible gene expression systems in industrially relevant bacteria, including Escherichia coli, Cupriavidus necator and Pseudomonas putida. Currently, Erik is working as a postdoctoral researcher in the group of Prof Eriko Takano (University of Manchester, UK), where he is working on refactoring a biosynthetic gene cluster to improve the production of high-value pharmaceuticals in Actinobacteria.

Dominic Whittall – Post Doctoral Researcher

Dominic completed his PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Manchester in 2019. His thesis focused on novel synthetic biology applications of a high-activity P450 enzyme (CYP102A1). Currently, he is working on refactoring biosynthetic gene clusters and crystallography of pathway enzymes to improve the production of high-value pharmaceuticals within the TOPCAPI project.



Former members

Areti Tsigkinopoulou Marc Biarnes Carrera Suhui Ye Huang Kamila Schmidt






This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 720793