Skip to main content

Ben Orton

Research student

School of Chemistry



Artificial metalloenzymes for catalysing new-to-nature reactions

Cross-coupling reactions are a powerful class of chemical transformations that enable synthetic chemists to efficiently form carbon-carbon bonds. Despite their widespread use, most transformations require high temperatures, toxic solvents, and scarce metals. To overcome these limitations, we are developing artificial metalloenzymes (ArMs), which are enzymes that contain non-natural metals or metal cofactors. In this project we are creating ArMs, by combining thermostable protein scaffolds with 3d-transition-metal cofactors, to catalyse the Mizoroki-Heck cross-coupling reaction. We envisage our engineered Heckase could replace existing catalysts, contributing to biocompatible catalytic pathways and the green synthesis of complex molecules.


Honours and awards

BSc Biological Sciences: Biochemistry (Hons), The University of Edinburgh, 2017-2021 

MSc Systems and Synthetic Biology, The University of Edinburgh, 2021-2022

Eurpean RosettaCon Leipzig 2023: "Protein design in the age of artificial intelligence" poster prize


Guto Rhys

Guto Rhys

Lecturer in Biological Chemistry


  • Biocatalysis and enzyme technology
  • Protein design and engineering