Mark Christian Leake Author of Evaluating Organization Development

Mark Christian Leake

Chair of Biological Physics, Director of Biological Physical Sciences Institute
University of York,

I am the Chair of Biological Physics and Director/Founder of the Biological Physical Sciences Institute, University of York, heading an interdisciplinary science team specializing in single-molecule biophysics research. My work on molecular manipulation, ultrasensitive imaging and customized microscope which has led to >100 articles/books including Nature, Science and PNAS, accruing ca. 3,000 citations. I have presented >60 talks worldwide and chaired/organized several international meetings.


I am sole-author of textbooks Single-molecule cellular biophysics Cambridge University Press (2013), Biophysics: Tools & Techniques CRC Press (2016), and Editor of Chromosome Architecture Methods in Molecular Biology (2016), Biophysics of Infection Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology (2016), and Single molecule cellular biophysics (2013) theme volume in the Royal Society’s flagship biology journal Phil Trans B.   My expertise in interfacial science research has led to competitive fellowships (Leverhulme Trust, Royal Society, OCISB Systems Biology, RMS, IoP, SoB) in addition to an Illustrious Team Research Award (Daiwa Adrian Anglo-Japanese Foundation). In 2010 I won the Young Investigator Medal from the British Biophysical Society (BBS). I have built on these achievements, establishing a lab with exceptional expertise for studying single-molecule cell biophysics. I have sat on numerous national strategy committees (Biological Physics Group of the IoP, the BBS and the RMS) in addition to the steering panel for the EPSRC Physics Grand Challenge Understanding the Physics of Life Network.

Since my Ph.D, I focused on developing single-molecule techniques to investigate complex processes of living organisms, making my own tools, including an atomic force microscope, optical and magnetic tweezers, nanoscale/sub-millisecond laser-interferometers and multi-colour single-molecule fluorescence microscopes. These are complemented by applying advanced biochemical, micro and molecular biological methods, as well as significant mathematical modelling. During my Ph.D in biophysics at King’s College London I developed optical techniques to characterize the mechanical properties of single molecules which act as nanoscale entropic springs. This was extended by postdoctoral work in Heidelberg, Germany, designing and constructing an atomic force microscope for use in single-molecule force spectroscopy on proteins essential to normal functioning of skeletal and cardiac muscle. Subsequently in Oxford I built a new fluorescence system to image probes attached to bacterial filaments of live cells, and was able to resolve unprecedented nanoscale steps in rotation of a sub-cellular motor (Nature 2005, 437, 916). I developed novel microscopy techniques (Nature 2006, 443, 355; PNAS 2008,105, 15376; PNAS 2010, 107, 11347) which, with the aid of cutting-edge genetics methods, allowed single protein molecules to be observed within a live cell, and enabled monitoring of their dynamic exchange. I invented a novel Slimfield imaging system to enable single molecule imaging at the millisecond time scale, used to study the architecture of DNA replication machinery in live cells (Science 2010, 328, 498; Science 2012, 338, 528). These are all vital bespoke research tools which will be implemented into my future research initiatives over the time scale of 5-10 years. In 2007, I won a Royal Society URF with a remit to perform single-molecule research on live cells using advanced optical techniques, and was elected Senior Fellow of the Oxford Centre for Integrative Systems Biology (OCISB). My interdisciplinary background gives me ideal grounding for addressing fundamental biophysical and biomedical questions. These present significant challenges in interfacing several scientific disciplines. My research team comprises multi-discipline expertise, including physics, biochemistry, chemistry and computer science Ph.D students, as well as postdocs from the physical, engineering and life sciences. This is of a significant benefit to performing groundbreaking interfacial science research. I have been successful in securing several research grants from multiple sources, with cumulative funds from all grants currently totally >£10M.

Areas of Research / Professional Expertise

    Techniques: Single-molecule biophysics, super-resolution microscopy, optical tweezers, magnetic tweezers
    Questions: DNA-protein interactions, gene regulation, signal transduction, biological complexity, molecular machines

Personal Interests

    Engaging my son (currently 8 years old) in the mysteries of the universe.



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