Professor David Fell

Professor of Systems Biology

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

Role

After studying biochemistry at Oxford University, followed by a DPhil on the physical biochemistry of yeast pyruvate kinase, David started lecturing at Oxford Polytechnic. His research gradually moved from experimental biochemistry into computer simulation and theoretical analysis of metabolic control, and he has written the only textbook on metabolic control analysis, Understanding the Control of Metabolism. In 2001, he helped to found and became part-time Chief Scientific Officer of the Oxford company, Physiomics plc, which is using computer simulation of cellular systems for the development and analysis of therapeutic strategies for the pharmaceutical industry.

Physiomics has firmly established itself as a leading light in systems biology approaches to drug discovery and latterly in therapy design, demonstrable through contracts with three major international pharmaceutical companies. Through its strong advocacy of this approach the sector has invested in and adopted new computational biology processes. As Physiomics has continued to grow, it has expanded its own specialist research team, in many cases recruiting scientists trained within Fell’s Brookes-based research group at Brookes.

David is chairman of the Policy Committee of the Biochemical Society, and has been a member of several panels and committees of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Research

David’s group formed nearly thirty years ago with initial interests in computer simulation of metabolism and the theory of metabolic control. To these it has since added interests in modelling signal transduction, in various different approaches to network analysis of metabolism, and in reconstructing metabolic networks from genomic data. In the course of this research, he has addressed problems in microbial, plant and mammalian metabolism, often in conjunction with collaborators who have contributed experimental results.

His work forms part of the emerging field of Systems Biology, in that we are concerned with understanding how biological function arises from the interactions between many components, and with building predictive models. Potential applications of our work include the design of changes in cellular metabolism to improve the output of product such as antibiotics, detecting vulnerable sites in cellular networks that could be targets for drugs to control disease-causing organisms, and improved understanding of how organisms manage to adjust their metabolism in response to environmental changes and other signals.

Research group membership

  • Cell Systems Modelling Group

Research projects

Research supervisions:

  • Computer modelling of metabolic networks
  • Designs for metabolic engineering

Further information

Publications

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