Professor Stephen Wallace

Professor of Chemical Biotechnology


2023        Professor of Chemical Biotechnology, University of Edinburgh

2020        UKRI Future Leaders Fellow, University of Edinburgh

2020        Senior Lecturer in Biotechnology, University of Edinburgh

2019        Visiting Associate, Caifornia Institute of Technology

2017        Lecturer in Biotechnology, University of Edinburgh

2016        Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Cambridge

2015        Visiting Associate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

2014        Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Harvard University

2012        Postdoctoral Research Fellow, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge


2012        DPhil. Organic Chemistry, University of Oxford

2008        MChem. Medicinal and Biological Chemistry with Industrial Experience, University of Edinburgh

Research summary

Microbial chemistry  *  Pathway engineering for industrial chemicals   Whole-cell biocatalysis  *  Biocompatible chemistry  *   Sustainable synthesis.

Current research interests

The field of synthetic organic chemistry has predominated the way we make molecules during the 20th century. However, this approach relies on the use of fossil fuel-derived materials, which are diminishing at an alarming rate. Furthermore, recombinant DNA technologies have advanced at an astounding rate over the past 25 years and can now be used to programme living organisms to make industrial chemicals from renewable bio-based feedstocks (e.g. carbohydrate, CO2, CH4) via fermentation. The emerging power of bioengineered synthesis and the environmental concerns surrounding current petrochemical methods of organic synthesis means that neither field can continue to exist in isolation. We believe the future of chemical synthesis will involve explorations at the interface of these two fields. This is the focus of our lab’s research. Current areas of research include: (1) Merging Synthetic Biology and Synthetic Chemistry (2) Engineered Microorganisms for Green Chemical Synthesis (3) Designing New Biocompatible Reactions

Affiliated research centres

Designer Micelles Accelerate Flux Through Engineered Metabolism and Support Biocompatible Chemistry. S. Wallace, E. P. Balskus, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2016, 55, 6023–6027 - link

Interfacing Microbial Styrene Production with a Biocompatible Cyclopropanation Reaction. S. Wallace, E. P. Balskus, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2015, 54, 7106–7109 - link

Using Non-Enzymatic Chemistry to Influence Microbial Metabolism. S. Wallace, E. E. Shultz, E. P. Balskus, Curr. Opin. Chem. Biol. 2015, 25, 71–79 - link

Opportunities for Merging Chemical and Biological Synthesis. S. Wallace, E. P. Balskus, Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 2014, 30, 1–8 - link

Strain-Promoted Sydnone Bicyclo-[6.1.0]-nonyne Cycloaddition. S. Wallace, J.  W. Chin, Chem. Sci. 2014, 5, 1742–1744 - link

Conformationally Strained trans-Cyclooctene with Improved Stability and Excellent Reactivity in Tetrazine Ligation. A. Darko, S. Wallace, O. Dmitrenko, M. M. Machovina, R. A. Mehl, J. W. Chin, J. M. Fox, Chem. Sci. 2014, 5, 3770–3776 - link

Optimized Orthogonal Translation of Unnatural Amino Acids Enables Spontaneous Protein Double-Labeling and FRET. K. Wang, A. Sachdeva, D. J. Cox, N. W. Wilf, S. Wallace, R. A. Mehl, J. W. Chin, Nat. Chem. 2014, 6, 393–403 - link

A Cascade Strategy Enables a Total Synthesis of (–)-Gephyrotoxin. S. Chu, S. Wallace, M. D. Smith, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2014, 53, 13826–13829 - link

Genetic Encoding of Bicyclononynes and trans-Cyclooctenes for Site-Specific Protein Labeling in vitro and in Live Mammalian Cells. K. Lang, L. Davis, S. Wallace, M. Mahesh, D. J. Cox, M. L. Blackman, J. M. Fox, J. W. Chin, J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 10317–10320 - link

Rapid Synthesis and Zebrafish Evaluation of a Phenanthridine-Based Small Molecule Library. L. R. Donaldson, S. Wallace, D. Haigh, E. E. Paton, A. N. Hulme, Org. Biomol. Chem. 2011, 9, 2233–2239 - link