Skip navigation

Prof Iain Sutcliffe

Department: Applied Sciences

Iain studied for his first degree in Biochemistry at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, where he stayed on to complete a PhD in microbial physiology, supervised by Dr Norman Shaw. Subsequent post-doctoral research notably included working with Professor Roy Russell and a Wellcome Trust Career Development Fellowship in Taxonomy (both in the Department of Oral Biology, University of Newcastle upon Tyne).

He was a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sunderland from 1996-2003 before moving to Northumbria, where he was promoted to Reader (2005), then Professor of Microbiology in 2007. From 2012 to 2019 he was the Research Lead for the Department of Applied Sciences and he is currently REF Lead for the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences.

Iain Sutcliffe

Research Themes and Scholarly Interests

My research focuses on understanding the bacterial cell envelope as the interface between a bacterium and its environment, with a specific focus on the nature, biosynthesis and roles of membrane-anchored macromolecules, notably bacterial lipoproteins and lipoglycans. Several projects are focussed on understanding the role of the cell envelope in the biology of the important veterinary pathogen Rhodococcus (Prescottella) equi and related bacteria.

Understanding cell envelope diversity is also of importance for microbial taxonomy and studies of bacterial evolution, and I am particularly interested in the evolution of outer membranes. My work in taxonomy has progressed from an earlier chemotaxonomic approach to primarily using comparative genomics and in this regard I am active in developing the discipline of microbial systematics. I am currently in my second term (2020-2023) as Chair of the International Committee for Systematics of Prokaryotes (

Key Publications

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Roadmap for naming uncultivated Archaea and Bacteria, Murray, A., Freudenstein, J., Gribaldo, S., Hatzenpichler, R., Hugenholtz, P., Kämpfer, P., Konstantinidis, K., Lane, C., Papke, R., Parks, D., Rossello-Mora, R., Stott, M., Sutcliffe, I., Thrash, J., Venter, S., Whitman, W., Acinas, S., Amann, R., Anantharaman, K., Armengaud, J., Baker, B., Barco, R., Bode, H., Boyd, E., Brady, C., Carini, P., Chain, P., Colman, D., DeAngelis, K., de los Rios, M., Estrada-de los Santos, P., Dunlap, C., Eisen, J., Emerson, D., Ettema, T., Eveillard, D., Girguis, P., Hentschel, U., Hollibaugh, J., Hug, L., Inskeep, W., Ivanova, E., Klenk, H., Li, W., Lloyd, K., Löffler, F., Makhalanyane, T., Moser, D., Nunoura, T., Palmer, M., Parro, V., Pedrós-Alió, C., Probst, A., Smits, T., Steen, A., Steenkamp, E., Spang, A., Stewart, F., Tiedje, J., Vandamme, P., Wagner, M., Wang, F., Hedlund, B., Reysenbach, A. 1 Aug 2020, In: Nature Microbiology
  • Mechanism of Phosphatidylglycerol Activation Catalyzed by Prolipoprotein Diacylglyceryl Transferase, Singh, W., Bilal, M., McClory, J., Dourado, D., Quinn, D., Moody, T., Sutcliffe, I., Huang, M. 22 Aug 2019, In: Journal of Physical Chemistry B
  • Refined Systematics of the Genus Rhodococcus Based on Whole Genome Analyses, Sangal, V., Goodfellow, M., Jones, A., Seviour, R., Sutcliffe, I. 2019, Biology of Rhodococcus
  • Genomic analysis of a novel nontoxigenic Corynebacterium diphtheriae strain isolated from a cancer patient, Ramdhan, N., Blom, J., Sutcliffe, I., Pereira-Ribeiro, P., Santos, C., Mattos-Guaraldi, A., Burkovski, A., Sangal, V. 1 Jul 2019, In: New Microbes and New Infections

Professional Activity

  • Please visit the Pure Research Information Portal for further information
  • Editorial work: Antonie van Leeuwenhoek Journal of Microbiology (Journal) 2019
  • Editorial work: Frontiers in Microbiology (Journal) 2018
  • Membership of committee: Bergey's International Society for Microbial Systematics (External organisation) 2017
  • Membership of committee: International Committee for Systematics of Prokaryotes (External organisation) 2017
  • Oral presentation: Whole genome analyses support the taxonomic separation of “Rhodococcus equi” from other rhodococci 2014
  • Editorial work: Antonie van Leeuwenhoek Journal of Microbiology (Journal) 2009

PGR Supervision

  • Kerry Hill The Development of Chromogenic Culture Media for the Detection of Healthcare-Associated Infections Start Date: 13/07/2007 End Date: 12/06/2014
  • Mian Munir Investigations of lipoprotein biosynthesis in bacteria Start Date: 09/01/2012
  • Craig Mantanona An interrogation of cholinergic function in aspects of cognition and behaviour in rats Start Date: 18/09/2017


Biochemistry PhD September 01 1985

a sign in front of a crowd

Northumbria Open Days

Open Days are a great way for you to get a feel of the University, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the course(s) you are interested in.

Research at Northumbria

Research at Northumbria

Research is the life blood of a University and at Northumbria University we pride ourselves on research that makes a difference; research that has application and affects people's lives.

a person sitting at a table

Order your prospectus

If you would like to know more about our courses, or life in general as a student at Northumbria, then we can help you.

Latest News and Features

More news

Back to top