Michael Yudkin

Emeritus Fellow

MA, DPhil, DSc (MA, PhD Cambridge)


Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry; Visiting Professor of Biology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1980-1981; Fellow of University College, 1965-1993; Emeritus Fellow of University College; Senior Tutor 2010-11
Elected 1993; Secretary to Governing Body 1996-97; Senior Fellow 2003-04; Emeritus Fellow 2005

Michael Yudkin was a Fellow of Kellogg College from 1993 to 2005 (Rewley House for the year 1993-1994); since 2005 he has been an Emeritus Fellow. He was appointed a University Lecturer in Biochemistry in 1966, promoted to a Readership in 1996, and made a Professor in 1997. He retired in 2005 from the Department of Biochemistry, where he lectured and ran his research group of post-doctoral fellows, graduate students and a technician.

For the 20 years before his retirement, Michael Yudkin’s laboratory was engaged in research on the soil bacterium Bacillus subtilis.  This harmless bacterium has the ability to change many of its properties and turn into a resting form (a spore) when it is placed in a situation in which it is starving.  These developmental changes (termed spore formation) have certain features in common with those that occur in higher organisms – for example when the fertilised egg of a mammal gives rise to the many different tissues of a foetus – but they are much more amenable to study by biochemical and genetic means.  It is hoped that the study of spore formation in such a simple bacterium might provide clues to the mechanism of development and differentiation in more advanced systems.

Michael Yudkin has published more than 90 papers in various scientific journals, as well as several books. In the last few years before his retirement he and his colleagues developed a mathematical model to describe the initiation of spore formation, which they published in the well-known scientific journal, Nature, in 2006. This model is considered to be one of the foremost examples of the newly developing field called Systems Biology, and in the past few years Michael Yudkin has been invited to speak at several Systems Biology conferences and workshops in the UK and abroad.

In 2004 Michael Yudkin was appointed as scientific adviser to the House of Lords in connection with an important patent case that had been going through the courts.  He gave tutorials on the scientific background to the Law Lords before they heard the case, and attended the hearings. His contribution was warmly acknowledged in the final Lords judgment.

Michael Yudkin was appointed assistant to the Vice-President of Kellogg in 2005 and was asked to take a particular interest in the academic development of the College. He was responsible for the establishment of the Kellogg College Writing Centre and the Kellogg College Research Centres.  He became Senior Tutor in September 2010, and oversaw Admissions for the 2010 and 2011 entries.  He retired at the end of September 2011.

Publications (selected)

Iber, D., Clarkson, J.,  Yudkin, M.D. and Campbell, I.D. (2006)  The mechanism of cell differentiation in Bacillus subtilis.  Nature 441, 371-374.
Yudkin, M.D. and Clarkson, J. (2005) MicroReview: Differential gene expression in genetically identical sister cells: the initiation of sporulation in Bacillus subtilis.  Mol. Microbiol. 56, 578-589
Clarkson, J., Shu, J-C., Harris, D.A., Campbell, I.D. and Yudkin, M.D. (2004) Fluorescence and kinetic analysis of the SpoIIAB phosphorylation reaction, a key regulator of sporulation in Bacillus subtilis.  Biochemistry 43, 3120-3128.
Searls, T., Chen, X., Allen, S. and Yudkin, M.D. (2004) Evaluation of the kinetic properties of the sporulation protein SpoIIE of B. subtilis by inclusion in a model membrane. J. Bact. 186, 3195-3201.
Clarkson, J., Campbell, I.D. and Yudkin, M.D. (2004) Physical evidence for the induced release of the Bacillus subtilis transcription factor, σF, from its inhibitory complex. J. Mol. Biol. 310, 203-209.