The National Centre for Macromolecular Hydrodynamics

Mary K. Phillips-Jones

Honorary Associate Professor
School of Biosciences

National Centre for Macromolecular Hydrodynamics
The Limes Building
Sutton Bonington Campus
Sutton Bonington
LE12 5RD


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Born: Newtown, Powys; Education: University College of Wales, Aberystwyth; Qualifications: BSc (Hons) Microbiology, PhD; Employment: Ciba-Geigy PostDoc, Harper Adams University (1983-4); SERC Postdoc, Univ Sheffield (1984-5); Research & Teaching Fellow, Univ Nottingham (1986-9); MRC & SERC Postdocs, Univ Sheffield (1989-1995); Royal Society Visiting Fellow, Univ Amsterdam (1995); Senior Lecturer, Univ Leeds (1995-2012) & UCLan (2012-18); Hon Assoc Prof & Assoc Prof, Univ Nottingham (2018-present)

I am a microbial physiologist and microbial biophysicist. In January 2021, I took up an Honorary Associate Professor position at Nottingham, aimed at developing scientifically-based business solutions that address global problems (e.g. antimicrobial resistances and preserving natural resources).

My research interests include:

  • Antibiotic mode of action and mechanisms of antibacterial resistance. The main focus is on the glycopeptide family of antibiotics, especially vancomycin.
  • Mechanisms by which pathogenic bacteria sense and respond to environmental change, focusing particularly on the structure and function of bacterial signal transduction pathways (mainly two-component signal transduction systems) and regulators of bacterial gene expression.
  • Bacterial membrane proteins, especially histidine protein kinases of two-component systems. I have considerable expertise in the heterologous expression and purification of these proteins, which (in common with many membrane proteins) are challenging to work with.

Techniques: determinations and characterisations of ligand binding and interactions using a range of biophysical tools including circular dichroism spectroscopy and hydrodynamic methods (analytical ultracentrifugation).

Skills: in molecular biology, structural molecular biology, protein biochemistry and membrane protein biology. Working with membrane proteins offers a plethora of opportunities to contribute to novel solutions to solve real-life problems, especially in detection and sensory systems that address antimicrobial resistances, microbial detection and pollution indicators. A combination of molecular and hydrodynamic methods can be a powerful set of tools to develop new technologies in this area.

Recent activities

  • 2021 – present: Panel member for the UKRI’s ‘Future Leader Fellowship’ Scheme;
  • 2020-2021: Guest Editor for a Special Issue of ‘Molecules’ entitled: ‘Interactions of Bacterial Target Molecules with Their Ligands and Other Chemical Agents’
  • 2021: Co-organiser of RSC Meeting ‘Chemistry for the Environment’, scheduled for November 2021
  • Co-Organiser of RSC Meeting ‘Strategies for combatting antibacterial resistance’, held on 9th December 2019, RSC Centre, London.
  • Membership of Editorial Boards: (a) Nature’s Scientific Reports (May 2016 – Sept 2020); and (b) Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering Reviews (2016-present).

Recent media work

Selected publications

(>70 papers; >1200 citations (h-index=22 i10-index=37)


  • Chun, T., MacCalman, T., Dinu, V., Ottino, S., Phillips-Jones, M.K.* & Harding, S.E.* (2020) Hydrodynamic compatibility of hyaluronic acid and tamarind seed polysaccharide as ocular mucin supplements. Polymers 2020, 12(10), 2272.
  • Jeong, E-L., Broad, S.J., Moody, R.G. & Phillips-Jones, M.K.* The adherence-associated Fdp fasciclin I domain protein of the biohydrogen producer Rhodobacter sphaeroides is regulated by the global Prr pathway. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy 45:26840-54.
  • Dinu, V., Lu, Y., Weston, N., Lithgo, R., Coupe, H., Channell, G., Torcello Gómez, A., Sabater, C., Mackie, A., Parmenter, C., Fisk, I., Phillips-Jones, M.K.* & Harding, S.E.* (2020). The antibiotic vancomycin induces complexation and aggregation of gastrointestinal and submaxillary mucins. Scientific Reports 10: 960.
  • Littlewood, S., Tattersall, H., Hughes, C.S., Hussain, R., Ma, P, Harding, S.E., Nakayama, J. & Phillips-Jones, M.K.* (2020) The Gelatinase Biosynthesis-Activating Pheromone binds and stabilizes the FsrB membrane protein in Enterococcus faecalis quorum sensing. FEBS Letters 594: 553–563 doi: 10.1002/1873-3468.13634.


  • MacCalman, T.E., Phillips-Jones, M.K. & Harding, S.E.* (2019) Glycoconjugate vaccines: some observations on carrier and production methods. Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering Review 35: 93-125
  • Phillips-Jones, M.K.* & Harding, S.E. (2019) Tapping into synchrotron and benchtop circular dichroism spectroscopy for expanding studies of complex polysaccharides and their interactions in anoxic archaeological wood. Heritage 2: 121-134.


  • Azam, A.A., Kinder, J.M., Khan, G.N., Alase, A., Ma, P., Liu, Y., Ault, J.R., Henderson, P.J.F., Chowdhry, B., Alexander, B.D., Harding, S.E. & Phillips-Jones, M.K.* (2018) Production of membrane proteins for characterisation of their pheromone-sensing and antimicrobial resistance functions. Eur. Biophys. J. 47: 723-737.
  • Harding, S.E.*, Channell, G. & Phillips-Jones, M.K. (2018) The discovery of hydrogen bonds in DNA and a re-evaluation of the 1948 Creeth two-chain model for its structure. Biochem. Soc. Trans. 46: 1171-1182.
  • Phillips-Jones, M.K.* & Harding, S.E. (2018) Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Nanomachines – mechanisms for fluoroquinolone and glycopeptide recognition, efflux and deactivation. Biophys. Revs. 10: 347-362.
  • Harding, S.E.* & Phillips-Jones, M.K. (2018) Hydrogen Bonds & DNA: Commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the discovery by J.M. Creeth and colleagues at Nottingham in 1947. The Biochemist 40: 46 (Meeting Report February 2018).


  • Phillips-Jones, M.K.*, Lithgo, R., Dinu, V., Gillis, R.B., Harding, J.E., Adams, G.G. & Harding, S.E.* (2017) Full hydrodynamic reversibility of the weak dimerization of vancomycin and elucidation of its interaction with VanS monomers at clinical concentration. Sci. Rep 7: 12697.
  • Hughes, C.S., Longo, E., Phillips-Jones, M.K.* & Hussain, R.* (2017) Quality control and biophysical characterisation data of VanSA. Data in Brief 14: 41-47.
  • Hughes, C.S., Longo, E., Phillips-Jones, M.K.* & Hussain, R.* (2017) Characterisation of the selective binding of antibiotics vancomycin and teicoplanin by the VanS receptor regulating type A vancomycin resistance in the enterococci. Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1861: 1951-1959.
  • Phillips-Jones, M.K.*, Channell, G., Kelsall, C.J., Hughes, C.S., Ashcroft, A.E., Patching, S.G., Dinu, V., Gillis, R.B., Adams, G.A. & Harding, S.E.* (2017) Hydrodynamics of the VanA-type VanS histidine kinase: an extended solution conformation and first evidence for interactions with vancomycin. Sci. Rep. 7: 46180.


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National Centre for Macromolecular Hydrodynamics

School of Biosciences
The University of Nottingham
Sutton Bonington Campus
Loughborough, LE12 5RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 951 6148
fax: +44 (0)115 951 6142