Knowledge for a sustainable world

Professor Patricia J Harvey
Professor of Biochemistry, Head of Aquatic Biotechnology and Biology, Director of Biomed Online

School of Science

Natural Resources Institute, Faculty of Engineering & Science

Professor Patricia Harvey is a biochemist and senior expert in bioenergy supply chains and the use of algal and plant systems for the capture of CO2 and production of green chemicals and biofuels. She is highly experienced in working effectively with European and international collaborators, and in managing large complex, multi-partner, commercially focused/donor-funded, R&D projects under the EC‘s Framework Programmes. She is also the Director of Biomed Online (, which she established in 2002 to deliver advanced-level professional courses for healthcare organizations.  

Professor Harvey researched tuber protein structure-function relationships for her PhD degree, commenced post-doctoral research into a new range of microbial restriction endonucleases for Genzyme Biochemicals then moved into Business Development and Industrial Marketing but returned to pursue fundamental research at Imperial College for 10 years where she unravelled mechanisms of lignocellulose biodegradation with novel redox enzymes. Moving to the University of Greenwich in 1993 saw her extend her sphere of interest with a BBSRC-NERC-LINK project to treat petroleum hydrocarbon-contaminated soil with bio-phyto redox systems as well as management roles for 2 EU COST Actions: “Plant Biotechnology for the removal of organic pollutants and toxic metals from wastewaters and contaminated sites”, and “Phytotechnologies to promote sustainable land use management and improve food chain safety” where she was also Chair for “Improving nutritional quality & safety of food crops”.  

With renewed demand for biofuels her research was redirected to support local communities: in 2007 she won a £1 million Kent-based project to develop a fully integrated approach for producing biofuel from oilseed rape with a low eco-footprint and with ReMade South East, a project “Zerowise Sustainable Food Waste Solutions” to reduce commercial food waste going to landfill. Ideas from these projects coalesced into winning an EU ACP project in 2009 with partners in South Africa, Namibia, Ghana and Italy to create sustainable, non-food supply chains for providing CHP electricity and chemical feedstocks to replace fossil fuels, and an EU ERDF project ‘Ecotec 21’ on CHP technologies with biofuels including glycerol. In 2011 she was seconded as Research Fellow to the Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University to conduct research into Biofuels, Science and Society, then headed fully into the field of algal research in 2013 on winning an EPSRC project ‘Macrobiocrude’ as well as a €10 million EU FP7-funded CO2 microalgae biorefinery project, the D-Factory (KBBE.2013.3.2-02); this latter was selected as one of the top four “inspirational projects” by the European Blue Biobased Economy Forum in 2019. It also marked the advent of her research into algal carotenoids with a fruitful collaboration with Professor Ami Ben-Amotz, Emeritus Professor of Marine Phycology and Chief Scientific Advisor of NBT (Ltd).

Professor Harvey has frequently contributed as an expert on Algal Biorefineries for the European Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation.  She led a workshop at the 2016 launch of ‘FOOD 2030’ on new algae value chains for food and consumer acceptability of aquaculture products at the EC’s request;  she contributed to the Evidence Review Report for the Scientific Advisory Mechanism of the EC to inform Policy on Food from the Oceans in 2017, and to the European Roadmap for the Blue Bioeconomy in 2018. She is currently Co-Director of the BBSRC NIBB ‘Algae-UK’ and the lead for microalgae on an EU Interreg 2Seas Valgorize: Valorisation of algae for a better taste. She heads the Algae-UK organizing committee for developing the Roadmap for Algae in UK diets. She is an active Panel member for UK and European funding authorities.

Algae as sources of healthy and sustainable food/food ingredients hold enormous potential (>100,000 species) to help transform and future-proof our food systems but remain newcomers in European diets. They are also a rich source of green chemicals and nutraceuticals for ‘personalised nutrition’. Interdisciplinary algal biorefineries for cultivating and processing algae for nutraceuticals, food, feed and biofuel with zero or negative carbon emissions serve as our settings for underpinning biochemical research aimed at understanding the extraordinary diversity of algae and their metabolic reactions. 

  • 9-cis β-carotene is a rare isomer of β-carotene and might serve as an effective treatment for a range of retinoid dystrophies, cardiovascular and age-related diseases.
  • Phytoene is a colourless carotenoid sought after for nutricosmetic developments.

We found high yields of these carotenoids using halotolerant hyperaccumulator strains of the microalga Dunaliella salina and showed that we could reduce costs of their downstream processing by several orders of magnitude. We have now described the mechanisms in publications which involves chlorophyll absorption of red light photons coupled to oxygen reduction and phytoene desaturation with a plastoquinol:oxygen oxidoreductase coupled to red light regulation of a β-carotene isomerase and in the case of phytoene, cell division inhibitors. As holders of 2 patents it may eventually become possible to produce sufficient quantities for clinical trials to support health claims.

  • Programme Leader for 4 MSc programmes, and 4 PG Diplomas in Biomedical Science, Healthcare Management, Healthcare Quality Management and Haematology.
  • Module Co-ordinator for 24 Level 7 30 credit courses. Listed at
  • BBSRC NIBB Network 2018-2022: Algae-UK Co-Director and lead for Microalgae, to catalyse interest and opportunities in algal biotechnology within the UK.
  • EU Interreg 2Seas Valgorize: Valorisation of algae for a better taste, Jan 2019 –Sept 2022, lead for Microalgae
  • EU FP7 Co-Ordinator of the CO2 algae biorefinery: D-Factory KBBE.2013.3.2-02 (2013-2017). €10 573 671 Coordinator for 14 partners (10 SME/LE, 2 Research Institutes, 2 Universities). Establishing a sustainable microalgal biorefinery using halotolerant microalgae.
  • Cultivation of Dunaliella salina, an extremophile, for glycerol and carotenoids using a novel Single-Use Bioreactor PHYCPoC-05 (2015-16) BBSRC with Cellexus Ltd.
  • Tuning algae for biofuel profitably. ABSig SPARK Plus (2015-16) £5,000 with Bioextractions Ltd.
  • Engineering Micro-algae for Pharmaceutical Production ABSig SPARK (2014-15) £5,000 with IOTA Pharmaceuticals.
  • EPSRC MacroBioCrude: Developing an Integrated Supply and Processing Pipeline for the Sustained Production of Ensiled Macroalgae-derived Hydrocarbon Fuels (2013-2017) £164,422.
  • Laura Mazzucchi
  • Supattra Maneein
  • Chiziezi Wosu (just completed)



  • P.J. Harvey, Y. Xu, Production of Dunaliella, Patent WO/2019/097219, Priority filing date 14.11.2017, 2019.
  • D. Schroeder, P.J. Harvey, Y. Xu, Algal Strains Patent WO/2018/141978 Priority filing date 03.02.2017, 2018
  • University Sustainability Board member
  • Faculty Board member
  • Faculty Research and Enterprise member
  • Board Member for Nordic Flagship Program (2016-2021)
  • RSC-Pan Africa Chemistry Network Advisory Board 2015 - date
  • The European Algae Biomass Association - Board member 2018 - date
  • Chair Organising Committee Algae-UK: Developing the UK roadmap for industrial applications of algae for food and novel food ingredients Oct 2020.
  • Chair Organising Committee Algae-UK: Developing the UK roadmap for industrial applications of algae for food and novel food ingredients Oct 2020.
  • Chair, Nordforsk Panel Nordic Programme for Interdisciplinary Research, Feb 2020 and Oct 2020.
  • Panel Member CEECIND 3rd Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology – Chemical Engineering 2020
  • Panel Member: UKRI Interdisciplinary Circular Economy Centres, Sept 2020
  • Panel Member: BBSRC Industrial Biotechnology – Higher Value Chemicals (IB-HVC) March 2020
  • Panel member: Nordic Programme for Interdisciplinary Research 2019 – Academy of Finland, Independent Research Fund Denmark, Swedish Research Council, Research Council of Norway, NordForsk
  • Chair of the panel for 2019 bilateral Tandem Forest Values call between Sweden and Finland, administered by the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry (KSLA) in Stockholm, with funding from Formas, two private Swedish foundations, The Academy of Finland and two Finnish Ministries
  • Panel Member 2019 for Nordic Green Growth for Research and Innovation call for proposals for collaboration projects by Nordic Innovation, NordForsk and Nordic Energy Research
  • External assessor: 2019 site visit in the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG).
  • Chair of the panel for 2018-19 Swedish Formas Consumer and Market and Products and Processes calls
  • Panel Member: BBSRC Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy in the Developing World (IBBEDW) 2018
  • Panel Member: Nordic Energy Research Reference Group 2016
  • Panel member: Cyprus RESTART 2016-2020 projects in Industrial Biotechnology
  • Panel member: President of Ireland Future Research Leaders programme
  • Mitacs Accelerate Entrepreneur program 2018-19 panel member
  • Development of an EU Roadmap for the Blue Bioeconomy 2019.  
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