Dr Sarah Montgomery | Postdoctoral Fellow

Montgomery, Sarah

Sarah is a postdoctoral fellow in the recently-founded Synthetic Genomics programme at the Wellcome Sanger Institute. Sarah brings expertise in chemical and synthetic biology to explore new ways to study and treat genetic disease.

Sarah's background is in synthetic organic chemistry, which led her to pursue doctoral research in biocatalysis - the use of enzymes to produce high-value chemicals including drugs. During her PhD, Sarah studied protein structure-activity relationships using a combination of high-throughput screening and phylogenetics. 

This research led Sarah to develop new interests in synthetic biology, whereby scientists can culture microorganisms to perform challenging chemistry and improve people's lives. Among the many applications of synthetic biology is the use of live baker's yeast to assemble large pieces of DNA. This allows scientists to build genes and even entire genomes from scratch, sometimes making fundamental changes that test our understanding of the central dogma of molecular biology.

Working with associate facuty Jason Chin, Tom Ellis, Patrick Cai and Kaihang Wang, Sarah is motivated to break new ground by bringing synthetic genomics to the Sanger Institue, and open up new avenues towards understanding our genome. 


  • Biocatalytic N-Alkylation of Amines Using Either Primary Alcohols or Carboxylic Acids via Reductive Aminase Cascades.

    Ramsden JI, Heath RS, Derrington SR, Montgomery SL, Mangas-Sanchez J et al.

    Journal of the American Chemical Society 2019;141;3;1201-1206

  • Chemoenzymatic Synthesis of Substituted Azepanes by Sequential Biocatalytic Reduction and Organolithium-Mediated Rearrangement.

    Zawodny W, Montgomery SL, Marshall JR, Finnigan JD, Turner NJ and Clayden J

    Journal of the American Chemical Society 2018;140;51;17872-17877

  • Imine Reductases, Reductive Aminases, and Amine Oxidases for the Synthesis of Chiral Amines: Discovery, Characterization, and Synthetic Applications.

    Cosgrove SC, Brzezniak A, France SP, Ramsden JI, Mangas-Sanchez J et al.

    Methods in enzymology 2018;608;131-149

  • A biocatalytic cascade for the amination of unfunctionalised cycloalkanes.

    Tavanti M, Mangas-Sanchez J, Montgomery SL, Thompson MP and Turner NJ

    Organic & biomolecular chemistry 2017;15;46;9790-9793

  • A reductive aminase from Aspergillus oryzae.

    Aleku GA, France SP, Man H, Mangas-Sanchez J, Montgomery SL et al.

    Nature chemistry 2017;9;10;961-969

  • Direct Alkylation of Amines with Primary and Secondary Alcohols through Biocatalytic Hydrogen Borrowing.

    Montgomery SL, Mangas-Sanchez J, Thompson MP, Aleku GA, Dominguez B and Turner NJ

    Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English) 2017;56;35;10491-10494

  • Imine reductases (IREDs).

    Mangas-Sanchez J, France SP, Montgomery SL, Aleku GA, Man H et al.

    Current opinion in chemical biology 2017;37;19-25

Montgomery, Sarah
Sarah's Timeline

Joined Wellcome Sanger Institute as a postdoctoral fellow in Synthetic Genomics.

PhD in chemistry, University of Manchester: Discovery, characterisation and application of imine reductases for biocatalytic reductive amination. Supervised by Prof. Nick Turner at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology.


Industrial placement at Johnson Matthey, Cambridge Science Park.


MChem in chemistry with study in America, University of Sheffield.


Year abroad at the University of Texas at Austin. Undergraduate research project supervised by Prof. Mike Krische.