Professor David Fell

Professor David Fell

Professor of Systems Biology

Department of Biological and Medical Sciences - Faculty of Health and Life Sciences

Contact details

Phone number: +44 (0)1865 483247

Role details

After studying biochemistry at Oxford University, followed by a DPhil on the physical biochemistry of yeast pyruvate kinase, David started lecturing at Oxford Polytechnic. His research gradually moved from experimental biochemistry into computer simulation and theoretical analysis of metabolic control, and he has written the only textbook on metabolic control analysis, Understanding the Control of Metabolism. In 2001, he helped to found and became part-time Chief Scientific Officer of the Oxford company, Physiomics plc, which is using computer simulation of cellular systems for the development and analysis of therapeutic strategies for the pharmaceutical industry.

Physiomics has firmly established itself as a leading light in systems biology approaches to drug discovery and latterly in therapy design, demonstrable through contracts with three major international pharmaceutical companies. Through its strong advocacy of this approach the sector has invested in and adopted new computational biology processes. As Physiomics has continued to grow, it has expanded its own specialist research team, in many cases recruiting scientists trained within Fell’s Brookes-based research group at Brookes.

David is chairman of the Policy Committee of the Biochemical Society, and has been a member of several panels and committees of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Research activities

Details of my research

David’s group formed nearly thirty years ago with initial interests in computer simulation of metabolism and the theory of metabolic control. To these it has since added interests in modelling signal transduction, in various different approaches to network analysis of metabolism, and in reconstructing metabolic networks from genomic data. In the course of this research, he has addressed problems in microbial, plant and mammalian metabolism, often in conjunction with collaborators who have contributed experimental results.

His work forms part of the emerging field of Systems Biology, in that we are concerned with understanding how biological function arises from the interactions between many components, and with building predictive models. Potential applications of our work include the design of changes in cellular metabolism to improve the output of product such as antibiotics, detecting vulnerable sites in cellular networks that could be targets for drugs to control disease-causing organisms, and improved understanding of how organisms manage to adjust their metabolism in response to environmental changes and other signals.

Research Supervisions

  • Computer modelling of metabolic networks
  • Designs for metabolic engineering

Research Groups



Selected Publications

  • Mark G. Poolman, Sudip Kundu, Rahul Shaw and David A Fell. Responses to Light Intensity in a Genome–Scale Model of Rice Metabolism. Plant Physiology 2013, DOI: 10.1104/pp.113.216762
  • Agris Pentjuss, Ilona Odzina, Andrejs Kostromins, David A Fell, Egils Stalidzans, and Uldis Kalnenieks. Biotechnological potential of respiring Zymomonas mobilis: A stoichiometric analysis of its central metabolism. J. Biotechnology, 165:1-10, 2013
  • C. Y. Maurice Cheung, Thomas C. R. Williams, Mark G. Poolman, David. A. Fell, R. George Ratcliffe, Lee J. Sweetlove,  A method for accounting for maintenance costs in flux balance analysis improves the prediction of plant cell metabolic phenotypes under stress conditions, The Plant Journal 75 (6) 1050, 2013, DOI: 10.1111/tpj.12252
  • Reinis Rutkis, Uldis Kalnenieks, Egils Stalidzans and David A. Fell Kinetic modeling of Zymomonas mobilis Entner-Doudoroff pathway: insights into control and functionality Microbiology, 2013, DOI: 10.1099/mic.0.071340-0
  • Thomas C R Williams, Mark G Poolman, Andrew J M Howden, Markus Schwarzlander, David A Fell, R. George Ratcliffe, and Lee J Sweetlove. A genome-scale metabolic model accurately predicts fluxes in central carbon metabolism under stress conditions. Plant Physiol, 154(1):311-323, 2010
  • L. F. de Figueiredo, S. Schuster, C. Kaleta, and D. A. Fell. Can Sugars be Produced from Fatty Acids? A Test Case for Pathway Analysis Tools. Bioinformatics, 25(1):15-158, 2009 
  • Mark G Poolman, Laurent Miguet, Lee J Sweetlove, and David A Fell. A Genome-Scale Metabolic Model of Arabidopsis and Some of its Properties. Plant Physiol, 151(3):1570-1581, 2009
  • Stefan Schuster, Thomas Pfeiffer, and David A Fell. Is maximization of molar yield in metabolic networks favoured by evolution? J Theor Biol, 252(3):497-504, 2008
  • A. Gevorgyan, M. G. Poolman, and D. A. Fell. Detection of Stoichiometric Inconsistencies in Biomolecular Models. Bioinformatics, 24(19):2245-2251, 2008
  • M. G. Poolman, H. E. Assmus, and D. A. Fell. Applications of Metabolic Modelling to Plant Metabolism. J. Exp. Bot., 55:1177-1186, 2004
  • M. G. Poolman, K. V. Venkatesh, M. K. Pidcock, and D. A. Fell. A Method for the Determination of Flux in Elementary Modes, and its Application to Lactobacillus rhamnosus. Biotechnol. Bioeng., 88:601-612, 2004
  • J. R. A Schafer, D. A. Fell, D. Rothman, and R. G. Shulman. Protein Phosphorylation Can Regulate Metabolite Concentrations Rather Than Control Flux: The Example of Glycogen Synthase. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 101:1485-1490, 2004
  • C. Chassagnole, B. Rais, E. Quentin, D. A. Fell, and J. P. Mazat,  An integrated study of threonine-pathway enzyme kinetics in Escherichia coli, Biochem. J., 356, p415, 2001
  • C. Chassagnole, D. A. Fell, B. Rais, B. Kudla, and J. P. Mazat,  Control of the threonine-synthesis pathway in Escherichia coli: A theoretical and experimental approach, Biochem. J., 356, p.433, 2001
  • F. A. Brightman and D. A. Fell,  Differential feedback regulation of the MAPK cascade underlies the quantitative differences in EGF and NGF signalling in PC12 cells, FEBS Lett, 482, p169, 2000, 10.1016/S0014-5793(00)02037-8
  • Y. Kashiwaya, K. Sato, N. Tsuchiya, S. Thomas, D. A. Fell, R. L. Veech, and J. V. Passonneau,  Control of Glucose Utilization in Working Perfused Rat Heart, J. Biol. Chem, 269, p.25502, 1994

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