Alfred Fernandez-Castane

Lecturer in Chemical Engineering

alfred fernandez castane


Room Number:  MB184A

Tel +44(0)121 204 4870


Alfred joined the Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry subject group at Aston in September 2017 as a Lecturer in Chemical Engineering.

He obtained his degree in Biology from the Universitat de Barcelona (UB). He then did his MSc studies in Advanced Biotechnology followed by his PhD in Biotechnology at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB) supervised by Dr. Gloria Caminal and Prof. Josep López-Santín. Alfred’s PhD thesis was awarded in 2012 with Honours and with the International Mention. His work focused on the development for the first time of a method to directly quantify IPTG in E. coli cytoplasm and medium samples using LC-MS analysis and this methodology led to a better knowledge and understanding of inducible systems, gene regulation and optimization of recombinant protein production.

Following the completion of his PhD, he undertook a post-doctoral position at the ISSB-UEVE where he developed his skills in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering. He then took up a position as Process Industrialisation Specialist at the company Phyture Biotech (now Vytrus Biotech) before moving to the University of Birmingham (UoB) as a Research Fellow in the €2.4m ERA-IB ProSeCa working with Dr. Tim Overton and Prof. Owen Thomas.

Research Keywords:

Biomineralisation, magnetic nanoparticles, magnetosomes, magnetotactic bacteria, magnetic separation, bioprocess development, fermentation technology, recombinant protein production, biosimilars, metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, process analytical technologies, mass spectrometry.

  • PhD in Biotechnology, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, 2012
  • MSc Advanced Biotechnology, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, 2008
  • BSc Biology, Universitat de Barcelona, 2007
  • CE1011 Professional Skills for Chemical Engineers (module leader)
  • Second year Chemical Engineering Labs
  • CE3003 Advanced Process Design
  • CE4011 Research Project

My research interest bridges biological and engineering disciplines. My expertise lies in the development of bioprocesses and understanding key quality factors that enable process quality, optimisation and scaling up. Here I focus on three main product types:

Magnetic materials:

Biomanufacturing biologically synthesised magnetic nanoparticles (magnetosomes) in bacteria, bioprocess development and scale up and use of magnetosomes in biotech/medical applications.


Bio-based chemicals are widely applied in biotech industries. We produce high-value chemicals in microbes using natural and engineered pathways and take advantage of renewable energies for the revalorisation of chemical products.



Development of bioprocess for recombinant protein production in a wide range of hosts for biotech and healthcare applications.



If you are interested in any of the research areas, I am open to host Erasmus+, Postgraduate (MEng and MSc) and PhD students. I can provide more details on our research projects as well as discuss potential funding sources.




  • Personal travel grant from the Biochemical Society (2016)
  • Personal travel grant from the Microbiology Society (2016)
  • “PROMISENG. A Golden list of promiscuous enzymes”. Collaborative project with UEVE. Funding body: PRES-UniverSud Paris 2013. 50K €. Co-Investigator

Current PhD supervision:

  • Hong Li – Development of downstream processes for the purification of magnetosomes (University of Birmingham)
  • Ayesha Rana - Development of novel bioprocessing strategies for the production of magnetic nanoparticles
  • I can offer PhD projects related to my Research Interests to national and international students. Please email Dr. Alfred Fernandez-Castane directly to discuss project topics and potential funding sources 
  • Associate Member of the Institution of Chemical Engineers - AMIChemE
  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy - FHEA
  • Full Member of the Microbiology Society
  • Full Member of the Biochemical Society
  • Professional member of Associació de Biotecnòlegs de Catalunya - ASBTEC
  • Personal membership of the European Biotechnology Network - EBN
  • Personal membership of the European Federation of Biotechnology  - EFB

A. Fernández-Castané, H. Li, O.R.T. Thomas, T.W. Overton. Development of a simple intensified fermentation strategy for growth of Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense MSR-1: physiological responses to changing environmental conditions New Biotechnol (2018) 46: 22-13 IF 2016 3.813 (Q1 Area: Bioengineering)

C. Gomes, A. Fashina,  A. Fernández-Castané, T. Hobley, E. Theodosiou, O.R.T. Thomas.  Magnetic hydrophobic-charge induction adsorbents for the recovery of immunoglobulins from antiserum feedstocks by high-gradient magnetic fishing. J Chem Technol Biotechnol (2018) In press IF 2016 3.135 (Q1 Area: Chemical Engineering)

A. Fernández-Castané, H. Li, O.R.T. Thomas, T.W. Overton. Flow cytometry as a rapid analytical tool to determine physiological responses to changing O2 and iron concentration by Magnetospirillum gryphiswaldense strain MSR-1. Sci Rep (2017) 7: 13117. IF 2016: 4.26 (Q1 Area: Multidisciplinary Sciences)

A. Fernández-Castané, H. Li, M. Franzreb, O.R.T. Thomas, T.W. Overton. Using flow cytometry to monitor cell physiology of magnetotactic bacteria in fermentation processes. New Biotechnol (2016) 33S: S19. IF 2014: 2.89 (Q2 Area: Bioengineering)

M. Pasini, A. Fernández-Castané, A. Jaramillo, C. de Mas, G. Caminal, P. Ferrer. Using promoter libraries to reduce metabolic burden due to plasmid-encoded proteins in recombinant Escherichia coli. New Biotechnol (2016) 33(1):78-90. IF 2014: 2.89 (Q2 Area: Bioengineering).

T. Fehér, A.G. Planson, P. Carbonell, A. Fernández-Castané, I. Grigoras, E. Dariy, A. Perret, J.L. Faulon. Validation of RetroPath, a computer-aided design tool for metabolic pathway engineering. Biotechnol J (2014) 9(11): 1446-1457. IF 2014: 3.49 (Q1 Area: Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology).

D. Calleja, A. Fernández-Castané, M. Pasini, C. de Mas, J. López-Santín. Quantitative modeling of inducer transport in high cell density fed-batch cultures of Escherichia coli. Biochem Eng J (2014) 91: 210-219. IF 2014: 2.46 (Q1 Area: Biotechnology).

A. Fernández-Castané, T. Fehér, P. Carbonell, C. Pauthenier, J.L. Faulon. Computer-aided design for metabolic engineering. J Biotechnol (2014) 9: 302-313. IF 2014: 2.87 (Q1 Area: Biotechnology).

J. Ruiz, A. Fernández-Castané,C. de Mas, G. González, J. López-Santín. From laboratory to pilot plant E. coli fed-batch cultures: optimizing the cellular environment for protein maximization. J Ind Microbiol Biotechnol (2013) 40(3): 335–343. IF 2013: 2.50 (Q1 Area: Biotechnology).

A. Fernández-Castané, Glòria Caminal, Josep López-Santín. Direct measurement of IPTG enables induction behavior approach in E. coli high cell density cultures. Microb Cell Fact (2012) 11:58. IF 2011 4.5 (Q1 Area: Biotechnology).

A. Fernández-Castané, C. E. Vine, G. Caminal, J. López-Santín. Evidencing the role of lactose permease in IPTG uptake by Escherichia coli in fed-batch high cell density cultures. J Biotechnol (2012) 157(3): 391-398. IF 2012: 3.18 (Q1 Area: Biotechnology).

A. Fernández-Castané. Nuevo método para medir un inductor de proteínas recombinantes. UABDivulga, Maig 2012, p.1-2.

A. Fernández, J. Ruíz, G. Caminal, J. López-Santín. Development and Validation of a Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry Assay for the Quantitation of IPTG in E. coli Fed-Batch Cultures. Anal Chem (2010) 82: 5728-5734. IF 2010: 5.2 (Q1 Area: Analytical Chemistry).