UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering

Prof Gary Lye

Prof Gary Lye

Professor of Biochemical Engineering

Head of Department

Dept of Biochemical Engineering

Faculty of Engineering Science

Joined UCL
23rd Sep 1996

Research summary

Gary’s main contributions are to the Industrial Biotechnology research group and focus on the synthesis of value-added chemicals and pharmaceuticals from renewable feedstocks such as Distillers grains, sugar beet and sugar cane. He is currently leading development of the UCL East Manufacturing Futures Lab with Professor Asterios Gavriilidis (UCL Chemical Engineering) and Professor Manish Tiwari (UCL Mechanical Engineering).

Research on biocatalysis and the modelling of single-step and multi-step bioconversion processes has benefitted from long-term collaborations with Professors John Ward, Paul Dalby and Helen Hailes (UCL Chemistry). Gary has a long-standing interest in automated and microscale bioprocessing techniques (with Dr Frank Baganz and Professor Nicolas Szita) and single-use bioprocess technologies (with Dr Martina Micheletti) to facilitate the rapid design, optimisation and scale-up of biocatalytic processes. These technologies have also been applied in the areas of mammalian cell culture (with Dr Alex Kiparissides), algal bioprocessing (with Dr Brenda Parker) and stem cell expansion and differentiation (with Dr Farlan Veraitch).

Current grants include the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Bioprocess Engineering (EP/L01520X/1), the EPSRC Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub (EP/S01778X/1) led by the University of Manchester, a BBSRC grant on Continuous Bio-Production of Commodity Chemicals (BB/N023587/1) with the universities of Nottingham and Cambridge, and a BBSRC-FAPESP grant on Lignin Valorisation in Cellulosic Ethanol Plants (BB/P01738X/1) with the universities of Warwick and Manchester and the National Bioethanol Laboratory (Brazil). He is also a member of the Horizon 2020 MSCA-RISE network on Integrated Process and Product Design for Sustainable Biorefineries with twelve partner institutions across the EU, Brazil, Mexico and the United States.

Gary has had a long-standing involvement with Engineering Conferences International (ECI) having chaired sessions and presented at their Biochemical and Molecular Engineering, Cell Culture Engineering and Single-Use Technologies conferences. He was Co-Chair of the first Single-Use Technologies conference in 2015 with Ekta Mahajan (Genentech).

He is an Editorial Board member of the following journals: Biochemical Engineering Journal (founding member), Biotechnology Letters, Biocatalysis and Biotransformation, Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering, Journal of Chemical Technology and Biotechnology.

As Director of the CDT in Bioprocess Engineering he has actively supported the development of a number of successful UCL spin-out companies, e.g. Synthace, Puridify, Axitan, and has led on licensing of the department’s Ultra Scale-Down (USD) technologies to Gower labs (with Dr Andrea Rayat).

Teaching summary

Gary's teaching activities span all years of the various undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes operated by the department. At undergraduate level he contributes to modules on Design and Professional Skills (Year 1), Fermentation and Bioreactor Engineering (Year 2) and Sustainable Industrial Bioprocessing and Biorefineries (Year 4).

At Masters level he oversees the academic content of the department’s MBI Training Programme for industry (with Dr Naveraj Gill) and contributes to modules on Principles of Fermentation Processes, Rapid Fermentation Process Design and Mammalian Cell Processes. He leads the Advanced Bioreactor Engineering module within the full-time MSc Biochemical Engineering programme.

At doctoral level he is Programme Director for the EngD in Bioprocess Engineering Leadership where he leads the module on Professional and Transferable Skills and contributes to the module on statistical Design of Experiments.

Gary has held a number of External Examiner roles as follows:

- EngD Biopharmaceutical Bioprocessing, Newcastle University (2012 – to date)

- MSc Industrial Biotechnology, University of Strathclyde (2014 – 2018)

- MSc Biotechnology, University of Manchester (2011 – 2015)

- MSc Food Biotechnology, University of Reading (2003-2007)

He was previously awarded a Royal Academy of Engineering and ExxonMobil Engineering Teaching Fellowship (1998 – 2001).


University of Reading
PhD, Biochemical Engineering | 1992
University of Reading
BSc Hons, Biotechnology | 1989


Gary is Head of the UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering and Director of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Bioprocess Engineering Leadership. He is Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng), a Fellow of the Institution of Chemical Engineers (FIChemE) and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (SFHEA).

Other current and previous roles include:
- BBSRC Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy Strategic Advisory Panel (2016 – to date)
- EPSRC Manufacturing the Future Strategic Advisory Team (2017 – to date)
- EPSRC UK Catalysis Hub Steering Committee (2015 – to date)
- EPSRC CDT in Sustainable Chemical Technologies Advisory Board, Bath (Chair, 2016 – to date)
- EPSRC CDT in Synthetic Biology Advisory Board, Oxford (2014 – to date)
- Royal Academy of Engineering Membership Panel (2016 – to date)
- Royal Academy of Engineering, Teaching of Engineering Ethics Group (2004 – 2006)
- IChemE BioFutures Steering Group and Skills Working Group (2017 - 2018)
- IChemE Biochemical Engineering Special Interest Group (Chair, 2005 - 2009)
- UK Government, Industrial Biotechnology Innovation and Growth Team (2008 – 2009)

Gary joined UCL in 1996 and was a founding member of the UCL Department of Biochemical Engineering in 1998. Prior to UCL he was a Lecturer in Chemical Engineering, University of Edinburgh (1995 - 1996) and a Research Fellow in Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London (1993 - 1995).