Employee Spotlight on Steve Harborne

Specialist in Membrane Protein Biochemistry

With the team at Peak Proteins being relatively small, I try my hand at lots of different things throughout the protein delivery pipeline. I’ve helped write customer quotes, expressed protein, purified and crystallised bucket loads of protein and helped solve an X-ray structure or two. However, my main speciality is working with membrane proteins, and I’ve started to focus on building Peak Protein’s capabilities around generating and working with these tricky targets.

Before Peak Proteins I was an academic scientist working on membrane protein structure and function. I did my PhD in Cambridge and a Post Doc at the University of Leeds.

It was a close tie between Science and Art. I love understanding how and why things work the way they do, and I also enjoy symmetry, patterns and order. This is probably why I’m a structural biologist, always trying to determine beautiful protein structures.

The Nobel Prize winner Peter Mitchell who hypothesised the chemiosmotic theory, which is a description of how a proton motive force – potential energy stored as a difference in concentration and charge of protons across a biological membrane – can be used to drive biochemical reactions such as the synthesis of ATP. His work was ridiculed at first as his theory did not fit the biochemical schemes of cellular metabolism known at the time from glycolysis and he was forced to self-publish all of his work as the academic journals would not accept it.

After realising an academic career wasn’t what I wanted long term, I was looking for a change of pace that would allow me to continue working on interesting challenges in science but cut out all of the frustrations that go along with working in academic science. After experiencing work in a big pharmaceutical company during my undergraduate placement year, I didn’t feel like that was the right fit either. Instead, Peak Proteins looked to offer the best of both worlds: a collaborative and dynamic work environment in a small team without the need to constantly apply for grant funding.

Collecting diffraction data at the synchrotron. The fact we are able to use such advance machinery to help us look at proteins at the molecular level never ceases to amaze me.

When I’m not in the lab I’m normally riding my bike up and down hills in the Peak District or walking my dog. I’ve competed in amateur level local cycle races, and sometimes I even ride my bike after swimming and before running…

People who don’t screw milk lids tightly after they use them. So much spilled milk…

I really like a good hot Indian curry from time to time.

Put a ban on all single use plastic wrapping from supermarkets

Seeing how happy my dog is to see me when I get home (even if it is just because she wants to be fed)

My favourite film is 28 days later, and my favourite track is “Your Hand In Mine” by Explosions in the Sky

At University I had long hair and played guitar in an indie band called First Aid in France


For further information or simply to say hello please contact us on 01625 238892 or email us