Mark Christian Leake

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Type of addressPostal address
Postal codeYO10 5DD
CountryUnited Kingdom
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  • Biology
    University of York
    Wentworth Way
    YO10 5DD

Phone: (01904) 328566

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Prof. Mark Christian Leake, FInstP, FRMS, FRSB

Anniversary Professor


Chair of Biological Physics
RAEng Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellow
Departments of Physics and Biology


Mark Leake is a physicist by training but now addresses challenging biophysical and biochemical questions in a range of biological processes. General themes of his core research involve (i) developing new biophysical instrumentation for addressing open biological questions, and (ii) applying these tools coupled to molecular biology and biochemical approaches to investigating questions concerning single molecules under physiologically relevant environments. His work has added insight into the mechanistic behaviour of the flagellar motor of bacteria, DNA replication, repair and remodelling, protein transport, oxidative phosphorylation, and signal transduction and gene regulation. These advances have been underpinned by innovative tools and techniques which enable robust quantification of molecular and cellular properties: the spatiotemporal dynamics of functional molecular machines, their molecular architecture, the nature of their functional molecular interactions, and their level of expression on a live cell-by-cell basis. His team probes several areas of life science research, but the key four currently include:

  • DNA gyrase: unpicking mechanisms of this crucial antibiotic target in bacteria which functions to resolve lethal supercoils ahead of translocating polymerases.
  • DNA replication/repair: elucidating kinetics of turnover, recruitment and assembly of replication/repair machinery of DNA in bacteria models for those in higher organisms.
  • Signal transduction/gene regulation: using model yeast to study how chemical signals at cell membranes are converted to gene regulation in eukaryotic nuclei.
  • DNA topology: investigating cruical effects of shape on roles of DNA in the cell, including its interactions with binding partners and the activity status of genes.

Leake’s work on molecular manipulation, ultrasensitive imaging and bespoke biophysical instrumentation has led to >100 articles, >10 papers cited more than 100 times, several thousand cumulative citations, with a personal h-index of ca. 30. He is an elected Fellow of the Institute of Physics (UK), Royal Microscopical Society, and Royal Society of Biology, and an editor for Nature Publishing Group and Royal Society journals.  He is the Chair of Biological Physics and Director/Founder of the Biological Physical Sciences Institute, University of York, following several years as a group leader and visiting professor at Oxford University, heading an interdisciplinary research team specializing in single-molecule biophysics. He is sole-author of textbooks Single-molecule cellular biophysics CUP, Biophysics: Tools & Techniques CRC Press, and Editor of Chromosome Architecture Methods in Molecular Biology, Biophysics of Infection Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, and Single molecule cellular biophysics in the Royal Society’s flagship biology journal Phil Trans B. His core work ethic is underpinned by a rich sense of collegiality, dedicated to the pursuit of the highest standards of scholarship, academic collaboration, and inspirational teaching, and he aims to invigorate all who study, research and work with him. 

Employment History

13   Director and Founder of the Biological Physical Sciences Institute (BPSI), University of York, UK 2012+.

12   Anniversary Chair and Full Professor of Biological Physics, Depts of Physics and Biology, University of York, UK 2013+.

11   Visiting Professor, Dept of Physics, Oxford University, UK 2013-Present.

10     Independent scientific consultant, 2012+.

9     Head of Single-Molecule Cellular Biophysics Group, Royal Society University Research Fellowship, Oxford University, UK 2007-13.

8     Head of Optical Proteomics Group, Principal Investigator and Senior Research Fellow in Systems Biology, Oxford University, UK. 2007-13.  

7     Expert scientific consultant, Oxford University Consulting Services (OUCS), UK. 2010-13.

6     Hertford College Oxford University Science Research Fellowship, 2008-2011.

5     Principal Investigator of the Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration in Bionanotechnology, Oxford University, UK. 2007-2009.

4     Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow, Oxford University, UK. 2006-2007.

3     Interdisciplinary Research Collaboration Fellow in Bionanotechnology, Oxford University, UK. 2003-2006.

2     Deutsche Forschungsgemeinshaft Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Ruprect-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Germany. 2002-2003.

1     Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Biophysics, Oxford University, UK. 2001-2002.