The National Centre for Macromolecular Hydrodynamics
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Director: Professor Stephen E. Harding DSc Oxon., Ridder Første Norway

NCHM Lime Lab






Hydrodynamics: means "water movement" and the NCMH (National Centre for Macromolecular Hydrodynamics) is a Facility for the characterisation of the sizes, shapes and interactions of large macro molecules of biomedical and industrial importance (proteins, polysaccharides, DNA, synthetic polymers etc.) and in the environment that many occur naturally water or aqueous solution.

The NCMH offers its expertise in microbial biophysics, vaccine characterisation and antibody integrity/aggregation at high concentration using "gold standard" methodology it has been at the forefront of developing to the Covid-19 crisis. Please contact:


Recent Research Highlights


Postgraduate Opportunities:  Master of Research and PhD

The NCMH offers the following Postgraduate Masters Course (1 year full time, 2-4 years part time), and is run jointly with the Business School and School of Chemistry:

MRes in Industrial Physical Biochemistry (IPB)  (1 year full time; 2-4 years part time)

Dual intake: students may start the course in September or January
Next intakes: September 23, 2020 and January 18, 2021

IPB is ideal for:

  • students who have or are about to graduate who want to pursue research in Industrially relevant areas of Biochemistry in the fields of Biopharma/Health Care, Healthy Foods, Bioarchaeology and Business aspects/ Entrepreneurship and other related areas
  • those currently working in Industry wishing to obtain a Masters qualification whilst working in a company’s own laboratories

The Course consists of 40 credits of assessed Taught modules, supplemented by (unassessed) research tutorials and a 140 credits assessed Research Project. It is taught in conjunction with leading Biopharma / Healthcare & Food Companies such as: Astra Zeneca, Arecor, Sanofi, GSK, Upperton Laboratories, Britvic, and Institutes such as the National Institute for Biological Standards & the Viking Ship Museum (Oslo). It has been nominated for accreditation by the Royal Society of Chemistry. For 2021 projects are currently available in the following 5 areas:

  • BIOPHARMA / HEALTHCARE (including Covid Glycans, Antimicrobial resistance, antibody biotechnology, encapsulation & mucins) 
  • HEALTHY FOODS (Food Chemistry: mucoadhesives for improving low-calorie food)
  • BIOMOLECULAR ARCHAEOLOGY (finding bioinspired consolidants for archaeological wood to save the Oseberg ship; stable isotope ratios for tracing ancient population movements)
  • MACROMOLECULAR BIOTECHNOLOGY (assaying the stability of glycoconjugate vaccines in the fight against microbial disease)

The course starts with the taught part of the training. As part of the research, students do a mini-project in the NCMH/ Biomaterials Laboratories based on characterising (i) an antibody fragment; (ii) a vaccine related polysaccharide (iii) DNA. The Industrial (or Business) Placement (4 months) follows. Our Placement Officer Dr. Judith Wayte and Course Directors will help arrange that. Students if they wish can do Industrial/Business related projects at the University. Students submit a report/dissertation on their research and the MRes concludes with presentations followed by a viva with the External Examiner.

Of the 40 taught credits, IPB students do 1 compulsory module: BIOS4074 Physical Chemistry for Applied Biopharmaceutical Biotechnology – 10 credits, and choose 30 additional credits from the following:

  • BIOS4004 Antibody Biotechnology (10 credits)
  • BIOS4005 Polysaccharide & Drug Delivery Technology (10 credits)
  • BIOS4118 Advanced Practical Methods in Biopolymer Science (10 credits, Includes professional skills)
  • BUSI4570 Technology Entrepreneurship (10 credits)
  • BUSI4440 Launching an Entrepreneurial Business (10 credits)
  • BUSI4436 Managing Innovation in Entrepreneurial Organisations (20 credits)
  • BUSI4454 Entrepreneurial Creativity (20 credits)

Assessment is by Coursework and assignments. In addition there are compulsory “MRes IBP Research Tutorials” (not assessed). The total split teaching (Assessed/Unassessed) to research is 33% : 67%.

Read the testimonies

For details and how to apply please contact Prof. Steve Harding. MRes students in all these areas can apply to continue on for a PhD.

View course prospectus





PhD Students

  • Xinxin Li (Vice-Chancellor Scholar): Hydrodynamic and Rheological properties of polysaccharide – submaxillary mucin complexes (joint with Prof. Bettina Wolf, University of Birmingham)
  • Michelle Cutajar (EPSRC CDT): Bioinspired consolidants for Archaeological wood (Joint with Prof. Rob Stockman)
  • Thomas MacCalman (GSK Vaccines): Glycovaccines 
  • Yudong Lu (Chinese Scholar): Glycans in Food and Health 
  • Taewoo Chun (Japanese Scholar): Ocular bacterial signalling, interactions and biofilms
  • Congratulations to recently graduated (April 2020) Dr. Jennifer Wakefiled & Dr. Arthur Gadon 


Some Earlier Research Highlights

  • Development of the COVOL program with Dame Janet Thornton FRS for predicting/allowing for non-ideality based on protein shape (view paper 1paper 2 and view original Rallison-Harding paper)
  • Development of an algorithm for analysing mucins and other complex polydisperse and non-ideal systems using sedimentation equilibrium in the analytical ultracentrifuge (view paper
  • Development of triaxial ellipsoids as hydrodynamic models for proteins in solution using ‘hydration independent’ shape functions (view paper) and the ELLIPS suite of algorithms (view paper)
  • Development of SOLPRO algorithm with Prof J. Garcia de la Torre for the bead modelling of complex proteins in solution using ‘hydration independent’ shape functions (view paper and recent review)
  • Development of a combined SEC-sedimentation equilibrium method for polymer molecular weight distribution analysis (view paper 1paper 2paper 3)
  • Development with Dr A.J. Rowe of off-line automatic data capture of analytical ultracentrifuge patterns (view paper)
  • Development with Dr J.M. Creeth of a simple test for macromolecular heterogeneity in a single sedimentation equilibrium experiment (view paper) and the MSTAR method for sedimentation equilibrium analysis of polymer molecular weights (view paper)
  • Development and first demonstration of the principle of co-sedimentation in the analytical ultracentrifugation for ligand-macromolecule interactions (view paper 1paper 2,  paper 3 & a more recent review)
  • First demonstration of a protein which forms trimers – chloramphenicol transacetylase (view paper), and a further demonstration (view paper)
  • First demonstration with Prof Dennis Burton of a cusp shape conformation for the antibody IgE (view paper and book chapter)
  • First demonstration of how pegylation can screen antibodies (view paper)
  • First demonstration of how processing and point mutations can affect the conformation of monoclonal antibodies (view paper)
  • First application of dynamic light scattering with analytical ultracentrifugation to elucidate the after-process integrity of monoclonal antibodies (view paper)
  • First demonstration of a weak association in carbohydrate polymers (view paper)
  • First SEC-MALS elucidation of the molecular weight distribution of polysaccharides (view paper) and mucins (view paper)
  • First application of dynamic light scattering to bacterial spores (view paper) and demonstration of resistance to disinfectants (view paper)
  • Development with Dr Paley Johnson of the theory for the concentration dependence of hydrodynamic parameters (view paper), tested using TYMV (view paper) and a recent update with Prof Don Winzor and Dr David Scott for the concentration dependence of diffusion (view paper)
  • Development of the technique of flotation equilibrium in the analytical ultracentrifuge (view paper)
  • Development of the linear coil array model for the structure mucins (view paper 1paper 2 and review)
  • Discovery of high levels of Viking genes in the population of coastal north-west England (view paper and book 1 and book 2)
  • Development with Prof J. Garcia de la Torre of ‘Crystallohydrodynamics’: combination of x-ray crystallography with hydrodynamics to elucidate the domain orientation of antibodies (view paper 1paper 2)
  • Resolution of an important discrepancy with a theory relating viscosity determination with molecular shape (view paper and review)

Comprehensive list (>520) of publications from the NCMH (Google Scholar) and links (Research Gate)


Latest news

  • Postdoc position available (mucin biophysics, 3 years, start date October 1st) - Closing Date 10th July
  • Two MRes fees scholarships available in Biomolecular Archaeology (start date January 1st 2021). Closing Date 10th August
  • NCMH seminars Summer 2020 (11am Tuesdays) contact: Dr.Mary Phillips-Jones and we will send you a TEAMS link. Talks last 20-30min:
    - 9th June. Weng Chan (School of Pharmacy). New Antibiotics
    - 16th June. Yudong Lu. β-glucan research
    - 23rd June. General Lab Meeting
    - 30th June. Tony Corfield. The sugar code and human biology. The role of sialic acids in human infection – Influenza, Covid-19 and other viruses.
    - 7th July. Immo Fiebrig. The Corona Triangle
    - 14th July. Mary Phillips-Jones. Antibacterial glycopeptides – vancomycin
    - 21st July. Steve Harding. Aminocelluloses

The NCMH is a National Facility endorsed by the EPSRC. EPSRC/ RCUK users must apply for funding to access the facility as part of a normal submission. Before doing so please contact us: and we will be happy to help.


Contact us

National Centre for Macromolecular Hydrodynamics 
University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus

LE12 5RD, U.K.

Email: Tel: +44 (0)115-951-6149