• Cromore Road, Coleraine Campus

    BT52 1SA Coleraine

    United Kingdom

Calculated based on number of publications stored in Pure and citations from Scopus
1997 …2024

Research activity per year

Personal profile


Dr Nigel Ternan is a Senior Lecturer in molecular microbiology in the School of Biomedical Sciences at Ulster University. After graduating with a BSc Hons (2.1) in Microbiology from The Queen’s University of Belfast he commenced his PhD studies in the School of Biology and Biochemistry at Queen’s University, completing his thesis entitled ‘Biodegradation of minoalkylphosphonates by Environmental Bacteria’ in June 1997.

Dr Ternan has more than 25 years' research experience in the areas of microbial biochemistry and physiology, biotechnology, and infectious disease research.

He has previously characterised novel microbial enzymes for industrial use, developed novel microbial biosensors and bioreactors for water treatment, and has established a strong track record in systems biology analysis of microbial pathogens.

Successful completion of programmes of research by Dr Ternan across biotechnology and engineering fields has resulted in competitively awarded research funding of over £6.5 M (e.g, from UK EPSRC, AFBI/DAERA, GCRF, Invest Northern Ireland proof of concept scheme, British Council, Innovate UK, and the EU)

He has published over 60 research articles in high impact peer-reviewed journals, with some 1400 citations of his work to date (H index = 22) in addition to holding UK, EU and US patents in the area of microbial diagnostics.

Dr Ternan currently leads research at Ulster into the gut pathogen Clostridium difficile, and has developed a well-funded and high impact programme of systems biology research into this pathogen.  An integrated proteomic and transcriptomic approach, coupled with modern reverse genetics techniques has yielded new insights into the pathogen’s physiology, with the potential for the identification of novel therapeutic targets, therapeutic methods, and detection strategies. More recently, we have shown that interaction of this gut pathogen with human gut metabolome constituents induces the expression of sporulation associated genes several hundred-fold, with profound implications for pathogenicity and pathogen transmission.

The Ternan lab has also developed strong collaborative links with local healthcare trusts and SMEs in the arena of healthcare acquired infections, antimicrobial surface treatments and air disinfection systems, resulting in successful delivery of numerous programmes of work in other areas, for example in assessing the efficacy of novel biocides for the healthcare sector, developing high yield bioreactors for the food industry and applying a cross disciplinary approach to novel pathogen detection methods.  

Research Interests

  • Infectious disease physiology
  • bacterial stress responses
  • proteomics
  • transcriptomics.
  • bioinformatics

Teaching Interests

  • Delivery of high quality, well received teaching in disciplines of Microbiology, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Proteomics & Genomics.
  • Placement/employability tutor for Biology and Biomedical sciences DPP (industrial placement) students
  • Member of faculty study abroad working group.
  • Member of placement community of practice team

Administrative Roles

  • Module coordinator for BMS307, BIO350, BIO351, BMS320, BMS504, BMS505, BIO700, BIO800.
  • DPP (Industry) Placement Tutor

Current and Recent Grants

Effect of Fidaxomycin on Clostridium difficile ribotypes

Soil Nutrient Health Scheme

Purascope - Air disinfection

Ilimex Ltd - Air disinfection in the Marine Sector.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 14 - Life Below Water
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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