Professor John Blacker


Professor John Blacker is Chair of Process Chemistry and Technical Director of the Institute of Process Research and Development ( appointed to both the Schools of Chemistry and of Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Leeds.

Graduated with a BSc Joint Sp.Hons. in Chemistry and Biochemistry from the University of Sheffield, 1981-84 then moved to Université Louis Pasteur Strasbourg in France to take first a Diplome D’Etudes Approfondies in Chimies Organiques and then a PhD with Prof. Jean-Marie Lehn at Strasbourg from 1984-88 in supramolecular anion binding and photocatalysis. 

Appointed a PDRA with Prof. Sir Alan Fersht at University of Cambridge 1988-90 working on catalytic antibodies.

At this point chose the industrial path and joined ICI BioProducts, one of the pioneers in industrial biotechnology, then over 18 years within the same organisation under successive owners Avecia, Zeneca and Piramal Healthcare, developed skills in chemical and bio catalysis, route design, process technology and manufacture, applied within the fine chemical, originator and generic pharmaceutical industry. A number of processes were commercialised generating significant income for the company.

In 2007 John transitioned to academia to help found the iPRD, and was appointed a full professor in 2009. He helped establish a unique process development and scale-up laboratory including 20-50L batch and a variety of meso-scale flow and other process equipment.

Institute of Process Research and Development

I have been awarded the RSC Process Chemistry and SCI Awards in Team Innovation and Process Chemistry.


  • iPRD Technical Diretor

Research interests

My research interests within the iPRD, supported by a group of around 12 people, are in developing more sustainable, competitive and value-adding processes for chemical production. Specific themes are: Biocatalysis, in which the group have worked on the development and application of whole cell and enzymatic biotransformations such as oxygenases, hydrolases and dehydrogenases. Chemocatalysis, in which the group invented, developed and applied the CATHy and SCRAM catalysts for hydrogen transfer reactions that are being used in a growing number of applications. I am interested in the development of chemical and process technologies to improve manufacturing efficiency, reduce waste and improve costs. Current R&D interests are: multi-phasic continuous flow processes; sequential reactions; renewable feedstocks; manufacturability which is understanding consistency within manufacture. 

I collaborate extensively with industry, and have delivered and currently lead a number of large projects.


  • BSc Special Honours Chemistry and Biochemistry
  • Diplome D'etudes Approfondies
  • PhD

Professional memberships

  • MRSC
  • SCI
  • ACS

Research groups and institutes

  • Process Research and Development

Current postgraduate research students

Postgraduate research opportunities

We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our research opportunities allow you to search for projects and scholarships.