Duncan Gaskin

Favourite Thing: Testing an idea with an experiment, and of course getting the results that show I am right!



Norwich School 1978-1984. Norwich City College 1984-1985. University of Reading 1985-1988. Birkbeck College University of London 1988-1991


Degree 2:1 Pathobiology. PhD Expression of HIV-1 Proteinase For Crystallisation Studies

Work History:

Research assistant at Birkbeck college 1991-2. Institute of Food Research Reading 1993-9. Institute of Food Research Norwich 1999-now

Current Job:

Research scientist investigating foodborne pathogens such as Campylobacter jejuni.


The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council

Me and my work

I’m a lab based scientist trying to work out how some of the nastiest bugs do their thing.

I’ve been working at the IFR for ages (20 years…) and in that time I’ve done a wide range of projects ranging from improving enzymes used in washing powders (lipases), through cloning genes from Guava for flavour production to working with bad bugs like Campylobacter and Clostridia. Most of this has involved molecular biological techniques (cloning, genetic engineering) as well as simple things like hitting a frozen guava with a hammer!

Currently I’m part of the Gut Health and Food Safety programme at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, looking at how some of the worse foodborne pathogens such as Campylobacter, Salmonella and Clostridia cause their associated diseases and survive in the environment. We hope to use the knowledge we gain to identify weaknesses and limitations in the organisms that may allow new treatment and prevention measures to be developed.

My Typical Day

Bit of office work, bit of lab work and maybe the joy of an experiment that has succeeded.

No such thing as a typical day really. Some bits of days are dull and tedious and others fun and exciting. It is the mix of activities that makes it fun – ok not the dull and tedious bits!

I’m a hands on scientist and love working in the lab and teaching others the joy a successful experiment can bring.

What I'd do with the money

Donate it to the Teacher Scientist Network, an organistation I’ve borrowed many kits from for school activities over the last few years.

The Teacher Scientist Network ( is a charity based on the Norwich Research Park whose aim is to enhance science education by bringing together the science and education communities. One of their resources is a library of science kits available for loan to local schools to support science teaching. Over the last few years I have borrowed several of these kits to help with my science activities at various schools and other public events. All for free. So I would like to be able to donate the money to them to continue to provide this valuable and well used resource.

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Chaotic, creative and likeable.

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Don’t really have a favourite as such. I like a wide range of music from film scores to obscure French jazz. But I guess the 80’s is my era so I’ll say Fish.

What is the most fun thing you've done?

Difficult to decide this one, flying a plane, getting a laugh on stage or getting married.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

Be more organised, more positive and more successful.

What did you want to be after you left school?

Forensic pathologist

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Of course! But nothing too serious – honest.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Another difficult question. I’ve developed things used by lots of other researchers, discovered things that no one else has and got a patent.

Tell us a joke.

Other stuff

Work photos: