Dr Stefan Howorka

Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Dr Stefan Howorka

Address: Department of Chemistry, UCL
Phone No: +44 (0)20 7679 4702
Fax No: +44 (0)20 7679 7463
Extension: 24702
Photo of Stefan Howorka

Research areas of interest include:

  • Chemical biology
  • Nanobiotechnology
  • Nucleic acids chemsitry
  • Single-molecule biophysics



The Howorka group works in the area of chemical biology and nanobiotechnology with a main research focus on engineered and natural nanopores, and nucleic acids chemistry. Biological nanopores are the gateway for transport across cellular membranes. We create synthetic nanopores from self-assembled and chemically modified DNA to achieve unprecedented molecular control over the transport. The nanodevices can be exploited for single-molecule biosensing, killing of cancer cells, and synthetic biology. We furthermore biophysically analyse bacterial channels to understand their function and to engineer them for biotechnological applications. A third interrelated research interest is the development of new nucleic acids probes and linker chemistries to enable biological and biophysical research.

Research Profile

Selected Publications

  1. Bilayer-spanning DNA nanopores with voltage-switching between open and closed state. A. Seifert, K. Göpfrich, J. R. Burns, N.Fertig, U.F. Keyser, S. Howorka. (2015) ACS Nano 9,1117-1126, Cover
  2. Membrane-spanning DNA nanopores with cytotoxic effect. J. R. Burns, N. Al-Juffali, S. M. Janes, S. Howorka (2014) Angewandte Chemie 53,12466-12470, Cover, Highlighted in Nature Chemistry 2015, 7, 17-18
  3. Structure and mechanism of the bacterial protein secretion channel CsgG. P. Goyal, P. V. Krasteva, N. Van Gerven, F. Gubellini, I. Van den Broeck, A. Troupiotis-Tsaïlaki, W. Jonckheere, G. Péhau-Arnaudet, J. S. Pinkner, M. R. Chapman, S. J. Hultgren, S. Howorka, R. Fronzes, H. Remaut (2014) Nature 516, 250-253
  4. Nanopores as Protein Sensors. S. Howorka, Z. Siwy (2012) Nature Biotechnology 30, 507-508
  5. SbsB structure and lattice reconstruction unveil Ca2+ triggered S-layer assembly. E. Baranova, R. Fronzes, A. Garcia-Pino, D. Papapostolou, G. Péhau-Arnaudet, E. Pardon, S. Steyaert, S. Howorka, H. Remaut (2012) Nature 487, 119-122

All Publications

  • 2009 to date: Assoc. Prof. / Reader in Chemical Biology, Department of Chemistry, University College London
  • 2005 to 2009: Assist. Prof. / Lecturer in Chemical Biology, Department of Chemistry, University College London
  • 2001 - 2004: Group Leader, Biotech incubator Upper Austrian Research GmbH, Linz, Austria
  • 1999 - 2001: Postdoctoral Fellow, Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, Prof. Bayley
  • 1995 – 1999: PhD, University of Vienna, Austria / Research stay at The Texas A&M University System Health Science Center
  • 1988 – 1995: Diploma Study of Chemistry/ Biochemistry branch (MSc), University of Vienna, Austria