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HeadShot Rob Johnson.jpg


Science Manager of Marlow Foods

Career           After completing his PhD in 1988 Dr Johnson worked for Beecham Pharmaceuticals in strain development, using a variety of techniques to improve the productivity of the penicillin fermentation and clavulanic acid fermentation. In 1994 he moved to Northumberland to set up a biological process improvement group for Synpac Pharmaceuticals, at the time the largest single penicillin production site in the world. After generating improvements to both the strain and the process that saved over £2 million per year he spun his group out to form Angel Biotechnology Ltd, a company that provided biological process improvement to a wide number of blue-chip clients. Rob assisted in the listing of the company on the AIM index and expanding the company to about 50 full time staff. In 2007 Rob became a private consultant, setting up a process improvement group for a company in Manchester and advising other companies on process design and development. After 2 years he joined WH Partnership Ltd as an internal and external Biotech specialist, providing design and consulting services. During this time he designed a 20 megaton per year biobutanol plant based around lignocellulose fermentation in a novel bioreactor, designed innovative bioreactors for clients, and ran an Innovate UK project on a bioelectrical sensor for Biological Oxygen Demand. He also ran client projects designing manufacturing facilities for vaccines and biologicals in both the Middle East and the UK. Rob joined Marlow Foods as the Science Manager:- Fermentation Specialist at the Belasis site in April 2017. At Marlow Foods (Quorn) he has set up a multi-million fermentation development facility and expanding team, with strong links to academia via supported studentships and grants. Primary aims of the group are sustainability and quality, with impacts across the whole business.

Degrees        BSc (Hons) Leeds University (1984), PhD London University (1988)

Awards         Honorary Associate Professor, University of Nottingham (2021)

Expertise      Process improvement in commodity scale fermentations. Strain improvement in prokaryotes and eukaryotes using GM and non-GM technologies, with experience in secondary metabolites, primary metabolites, GM and native protein overproduction and whole cell (biomass) production. Fermentation optimisation by statistical analysis, process control and medium optimisation. Concept design of GMP facilities.

Recent publications (2020-2021)

  1. Kamil J Szepe, Paul S Dyer, Robert I Johnson, Andrew M Salter, Simon V Avery, Influence of environmental and genetic factors on food protein quality: current knowledge and future directions, Current Opinion in Food Science, Volume 40, 2021, Pages 94-101, ISSN 2214-7993,

  2. Thomas Upcraft,   Wei-Chien Tu,   Rob Johnson, Tim Finnigan,   Nguyen Van Hung, Jason Hallett and  Miao Guo, Protein from renewable resources: mycoprotein production from agricultural residues, Green Chem., 2021,23, 5150-5165

  3. Meyer, V., Basenko, E.Y., Benz, J.P. et al. Growing a circular economy with fungal biotechnology: a white paper. Fungal Biol Biotechnol 7, 5 (2020).

  4. Thomas Upcraft, Rob Johnson, Tim Finnigan, Jason Hallett, Miao Guo, Protein from Renewable Resources: Mycoprotein Production from Agricultural Residues, Editor(s): Sauro Pierucci, Flavio Manenti, Giulia Luisa Bozzano, Davide Manca, Computer Aided Chemical Engineering, Elsevier, Volume 48, 2020, Pages 985-990, ISSN 1570-7946, ISBN 9780128233771,

  5. Whittaker J.A., Johnson R.I., Finnigan T.J.A., Avery S.V., Dyer P.S. (2020) The Biotechnology of Quorn Mycoprotein: Past, Present and Future Challenges. In: Nevalainen H. (eds) Grand Challenges in Fungal Biotechnology. Grand Challenges in Biology and Biotechnology. Springer, Cham.


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