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Dr Sarah Ann Allman

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Lecturer in Chemistry
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Life, Health & Chemical Sciences
  • sarah.allman

Professional biography

I completed a M.Sci. in Chemistry in 2001 at King’s College, London.  Following my undergraduate degree I undertook a short period of study at the University of Cambridge (Emmanuel College), working on small molecule natural product synthesis.  I then worked as a lecturer in science at a college of further education, teaching applied sciences (chemistry, life sciences and health), the physical science components of vocational qualifications and working cross-faculty with curriculum access and learner support teams.  After spending time teaching in the FE sector, I took a position in the chemical industry as a research scientist for ICI, developing polymer systems for commerical refinish products.  

I returned to university to read for a D.Phil. in Organic Chemistry at the University of Oxford (Balliol College) under the supervision of Professor Ben Davis.  My doctoral studies focused on carbohydrate synthesis and functional studies of interactions between synthetic oligosaccharides and carbohydrate binding proteins on microarray platforms.  Upon completion of my doctorate, I moved to the Biochemistry Department at the University of Oxford as a post-doctoral research associate working within the Oxford Institute of Glycobiology, alongside reading part-time for a MA in Education with the The Open University (completed in 2013).  I took up my current position as a lecturer in Chemistry with The Open University in March 2014.


2013    M.A. Education (distinction) (comprising: E891, E846, SEH806) - Faculty of Education and Language Studies, The Open University 

2013    Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Studies in Education (distinction) - Faculty of Education and Language Studies, The Open University

2012    Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Studies in Education (distinction) - Faculty of Education and Language Studies,  The Open University

2009    D.Phil. Organic Chemistry - Department of Chemistry, University of Oxford

“Chemical Mapping - Chemoenzymatic synthesis of sialylated oligosaccharides as probes of innate immunity”

2003    Certificate of Postgraduate Study (Organic Chemistry) - Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge  

2003    City and Guilds 7307 (Further and Adult Teacher's Certificate)

2001    M.Sci. Chemistry (1st) - Department of Chemistry, King’s College London, University of London

Research interests

Altered patterns of cellular carbohydrates are characteristic of many disease states.  Changes in both in the sugars displayed upon the surface of proteins and lipids and the cytosolic free oligosaccharides released from cellular degradation pathways provide insights into disease states as well factors influencing protein catabolism and cellular metabolism.  As such, changes in the distribution of such species can be used as markers to reveal perturbations in cellular metabolic processes.  These markers have the potential to be used as diagnostics and for the purpose of understanding the effects of perturbations in cellular processes resulting from outside interventions such as drug treatments.

In addition to the detection of aberrant glycosylation states, characterisation of interactions between glycans and carbohydrate binding proteins has the potential to directly inform the development of the therapeutic agents.  As well as the identification of new interaction partners, the characterisation of glycosylated proteins also represents a huge challenge for the pharmaceutical industry. Many modern and emergent biopharmaceuticals and therapies are based upon monoclonal antibodies and other protein structures which are heavily glycosylated.  Modification of the glycosylation states of such therapeutics impacts not only their efficacy but also their immunogenicity; and glycan analysis, particularly the analysis of sialic acid, is a regulatory requirement.  As such, there is a burgeoning market for tools to facilitate the accurate structural analysis of carbohydrate structures, as it is imperative that analytical methods keep pace with the development of increasingly complex therapeutic agents. 

My research interests are broadly based upon using chemical biology tools for the synthesis, structural characterisation and elucidation of function of biologically relevant carbohydrates.  My group work closely alongside industrial companies in the fine chemical, biotechnological and pharmaceutical industry as well as academic partners in the biomedical sciences.  

Grants and Funding

Award: EPSRC First Grant Scheme (2016)

Title of Project: Integrated workflows for glycan analysis: tagging strategies to facilitate structural and functional characterisation of carbohydrates - £100,802 

Award: Royal Society Research Grant 2016R1 (2016)

Title of Project: Activity-based probes for glycosidases - covalent iminosugar enzyme inhibitors bearing multifunctional tags for discovery and functional characterisation of novel biocatalysts - £10,500

Award:  IBCarb Summer Studentship (2016)

Title of Project: Integrated workflows for carbohydrate analysis - development of methodology to facilitate functional characterization and downstream use of complex carbohydrates isolated from natural sources - £2,500

Award: BBSRC Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst (IBCAT) BB/M028879/1 (2015)

Title of Project: Chemo-enzymatic Production of Specialty Glycans - £364,803 (duration: 5 years) 

Award:  IBCarb BBSRC NIBB Business Interaction Voucher (IBCarb-BIV-0915-011) (2015)

Title of Project: Industrial collaboration - £5,000

Award: The Royal Society of Chemistry Analytical Chemistry Trust Fund Summer Studentship (2015)

Title of Project:  Multi-functional labels for carbohydrate analysis - £1080

Award: The Biochemical Society – Eric Reid Fund for Methodology (2015)

Title of Project:  Characterising changes in carbohydrates - development of methodology to facilitate characterisation of carbohydrate biomarkers - £950

Research Group Members

Sarah Needs (Feb 2015 - ) Biochemical basis of congenital glycosylation disorders

Søren Kaas (April 2015 - April 2016) Design of novel radio-sensitizers

Lucy McCanna (June 2015 - Dec 2015) Integrated workflows for carbohydrate biomarker characterisation

Abdullahi Adan (Feb 2016 - ) Investigating the effect of pathogenic and protective LRRK2 mutations on lysosomes

Matthew Allen (Oct 2016 - ) Development of tools for glycan analysis and quantitative sialic acid glycomics

Teaching interests

I am currently part of the module teams involved in the production of course material for the S112 (Level 1 Science) and S315 (Level 3 Chemistry), and previously worked on the production of material for S215 (Level 2 Chemistry). I have previously worked as part of the module teams for SXM390, S215 and S346.  

I have an academic interest in individual negotiation of transitions in education, in particular lateral transitions in the tertiary sector and how these transitions can be facilitated.  Within the Department of Life, Health and Chemical Sciences at The Open University, I am have responsibilities relating to the pastoral care of our post-graduate student cohort.  I am also interested in participant, practioner and institutional perceptions of relevance of acquired credentials to post-study work environments.

I have a deep-seated interest in assessment practice, with particular emphasis on accessibility and equity in assessment and the suitability of assessment models to pre-assessment praxis.  I have been involved with assessment in the tertiary sector for a number of years and with public examination processes (in a number of different examiner and senior assessor roles) for over a decade.

Impact and engagement

I am interested in the use of social media as a tool for science communication and am responsible for the upkeep of the Department's Facebook page.  I am currently acting as an academic advisor for BBC Radio 4's weekly "BBC Inside Science" program.  I am an active STEMNet ambassador, with a particular interest in creative outreach activities aimed at primary schools. 

External collaborations

Membership of professional bodies

Royal Society of Chemistry (MRSC)

The Biochemical Society

British Mass Spectrometry Society

Society for Glycobiology

I am a member of the Executive Committee for the IBCarb network (one of the BBSRC Networks in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy) responsible for Societal Impact and Education in the glycosciences

I currently act as an external co-supervisor for MSc and PhD students at the National University of Malaysia and an internship supervisor for candidates reading chemical and biotechnological sciences at University College Southwest Denmark

Research Activity

Externally funded projects

Integrated workflows for glycan analysis: tagging strategies to facilitate structural and functional characterisation of carbohydrates (EP/P00573X/1)

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01/Nov/201631/Oct/2017EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council)
Proteins and other important biological molecules are often highly decorated with complex chains of carbohydrates. These carbohydrates are involved in many processes, such as cell-cell adhesion and the recognition of pathogens. Such carbohydrate structures can be isolated directly from biological molecules and tagged with a fluorescent label to aid their separation. Such technology is exploited commercially in the analysis of biopharmaceuticals. This project describes the preparation of labels exhibiting comparable properties in the separation system, whilst bearing additional functionality which can be exploited for used in post-analysis workflows. This will allow for labelled sugars isolated by procedures applied in industrial carbohydrate analysis to be utilised in the production of artificial bioconjugates. These conjugates will be incorporated into model cell membranes and also inserted into droplets to mimic whole cells. By using these types of methods to present sugars, we can create systems where the sugars are displayed on a surface in such a way that they closely model how they would be displayed in a natural system.

Integrated workflows for carbohydrate analysis

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead04/Jul/201626/Aug/2016IB Carb Network
Development of tools to facilitate the functional characterization, isolation and downstream use of complex carbohydrates isolated from natural sources.

Royal Society Research Grant 2016 R1 - covalent inhibitors of glycan processing enzymes

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01/Jun/201631/May/2017The Royal Society
The project describes the synthesis of high-affinity broad spectrum irreversible inhibitors of sugar processing enzymes bearing groups which will allow for the enrichment of such biocatalysts from complex samples and characterisation of their function

Production of glycan standards for use in biopharmaceutical and glycomics characterisations

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01/Jan/201630/Jun/2016BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council)
Glycan and glycopeptide standards offer a valuable tool to aid characterization and quantitation using current high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and mass spectrometry (MS)-based systems glycobiology investigations. Such a set of standards must encompass the variety of structural features that produce the complexity and heterogeneity observed in naturally occurring glycans. The currently available set of glycan standards, however, cover only a limited number of structural features with respect to many features such as sialylation linkage type due to challenges in obtaining high purity and yield from natural sources. Using the combined expertise of both partners, the proposed work aims to help bridge this gap through the synthesis of both a glycan and quantitative glycopeptide standard carrying carbohydrates which are currently difficult to obtain from readily available natural sources but are the typical types found on the surface of biopharmaceuticals produced using the commonly utilised Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) expression system.

Chemo-enzymatic Production of Specialty Glycans and Glycopeptides

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead19/Oct/201518/Oct/2020BBSRC (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council)
The vision of the project centres around the translation of traditional and novel methodologies to develop sustainable and versatile platforms for the industrial production of glycans on scale. We will demonstrate the technology by targeting a set of novel glycan materials that are anticipated to have significant transformational potential in human health and disease in diagnostics and glycoengineering applications. This project requires an integrated approach featuring: 1) synthetic chemistry (unnatural building blocks) 2) biocatalysis (enzymatic synthesis of larger glycans) 3) showcasing glycan potential in diagnostics (glycoarray based platforms). The significant anticipated progression of both biocatalysis and glycoarray technologies will reduce commercialisation barriers both in terms of commercial glycan production and 'first in the market' glycan array companies.

RSC Analytical Chemistry Summer Studentship

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead06/Jul/201514/Aug/2015Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC)
Funding awarded by the Royal Society of Chemistry Analytical Chemistry Trust Fund Summer Studentship Program to provide a maintenance bursary for a six week undergraduate summer project based upon developing methods to facilitate the analysis of carbohydrates.

Eric Reid Methodology Fund (small consumables grant)

RoleStart dateEnd dateFunding source
Lead01/May/201530/Apr/2016The Biochemical Society
Isolation of glycans from natural sources for downstream applications is attractive as these structures are not easily accessible by standard synthetic routes. This project is concerned with the development of methodology which will allow for sugars isolated from natural sources to be analysed more readily and isolated material used in downstream applications.


Fragmentation of negative ions from N-linked carbohydrates: Part 6. Glycans containing one N-acetylglucosamine in the core (2014-09-30)
Harvey, David J.; Edgeworth, Matthew; Krishna, Benjamin A.; Bonomelli, Camille; Allman, Sarah A.; Crispin, Max and Scrivens, James H.
Rapid Communications in Mass Spectrometry, 28(18) (pp. 2008-2018)
Travelling wave ion mobility and negative ion fragmentation for the structural determination of N-linked glycans (2013-07-22)
Harvey, David J.; Scarff, Charlotte A.; Edgeworth, Matthew ; Crispin, Max; Scanlan, Christopher N.; Sobott, Frank; Allman, Sarah; Baruah, Kavitha; Pritchard, Laura and Scrivens, James H.
Electrophoresis, 34(16) (pp. 2368-2378)
Glycoprotein misfolding in the endoplasmic reticulum: identification of released oligosaccharides reveals a second ER-associated degradation pathway for Golgi-retrieved proteins (2013)
Alonzi, Dominic S.; Kukushkin, Nikolay V.; Allman, Sarah A.; Hakki, Zalihe; Williams, Spencer J.; Pierce, Lorna; Dwek, Raymond A. and Butters, Terry D.
Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, 70(15) (pp. 2799-2814)
Thiazolides as novel antiviral agents. 2. Inhibition of Hepatitis C virus replication (2011-12-22)
Stachulski, Andrew V.; Pidathala, Chandrakala; Row, Eleanor C.; Sharma, Raman; Berry, Neil G.; Lawrenson, Alexandre S.; Moores, Shelley L.; Iqbal, Mazhar; Bentley, Joanne; Allman, Sarah A.; Edwards, Geoffrey; Helm, Alison; Hellier, Jennifer; Korba, Brent E.; Semple, J. Edward and Rossignol, Jean-Francois
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 54(24) (pp. 8670-8680)
Synthesis of N-alkylated noeurostegines and evaluation of their potential as treatment for Gaucher’s disease (2011-03-01)
Rasmussen, Tina S.; Allman, Sarah; Twigg, Gabriele; Butters, Terry D. and Jensen, Henrik H.
Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters, 21(5) (pp. 1519-1522)
Surface plasmon resonance imaging of glycoarrays identifies novel and unnatural carbohydrate-based ligands for potential ricin sensor development (2011)
Fais, Margherita; Karamanska, Rositsa; Allman, Sarah; Fairhurst, Shirley A.; Innocenti, Paolo; Fairbanks, Antony J.; Donohoe, Timothy J.; Davis, Benjamin G.; Russell, David A. and Field, Robert A.
Chemical Science, 2(10) (pp. 1952-1959)
Thiazolides as novel antiviral agents. 1. Inhibition of hepatitis B virus replication (2011)
Stachulski, Andrew V.; Pidathala, Chandrakala; Row, Eleanor C.; Sharma, Raman; Berry, Neil G.; Iqbal, Mazhar; Bentley, Joanne; Allman, Sarah A.; Edwards, Geoffrey; Helm, Alison; Hellier, Jennifer; Korba, Brent E.; Semple, J. Edward and Rossignol, Jean-Francois
Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, 54(12) (pp. 4119-4132)
Potent fluoro-oligosaccharide probes of adhesion in Toxoplasmosis (2009-10)
Allman, Sarah A.; Jensen, Henrik H.; Vijayakrishnan, Balakumar; Garnett, James A.; Leon, Ester; Liu, Yan; Anthony, Daniel C.; Sibson, Nicola R.; Feizi, Ten; Matthews, Stephen and Davis, Benjamin G.
ChemBioChem, 10(15) (pp. 2522-2529)
Detailed insights from microarray and crystallographic studies into carbohydrate recognition by microneme protein 1 (MIC1) of Toxoplasma gondii (2009)
Garnett, James A.; Liu, Yan; Leon, Ester; Allman, Sarah; Friedrich, Nikolas; Saouros, Savvas; Curry, Stephen; Soldati-Favre, Dominique; Davis, Benjamin G.; Feizi, Ten and Matthews, Stephen
Protein Science, 18(9) (pp. 1935-1947)
Chemical and chemoenzymatic synthesis of glycosyl-amino acids and glycopeptides related to Trypanosoma cruzi mucins (2007)
Campo, Vanessa Leiria; Carvalho, Ivone; Allman, Sarah; Davis, Benjamin G. and Field, Robert A.
Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, 5(16) (pp. 2645-2657)
Preparation of high-mannose type N-glycans from recombinant beta-mannanases expressed in Pichia pastoris (2017-03-15)
Al Bajalan, Hussein Mahamood Ahmed; Sarizan, Nur Maisarah; Yahaya, Yasmin; Chai, Sin Yee; Needs, Sarah; Hasbullah, Siti Aishah; Bakar, Farah Diba Abu; Murad, Abdul Munir Abdul; Wormald, Mark; Allman, Sarah; Alonzi, Dominic and Mackeen, Mukram Mohamed
In : International Conference on Natural Products 2017 (15-16 Mar 2017, Swiss-Garden Beach Resort, Damai Laut, Perak, Malaysia)
HPLC Profiling of N-Glycans from Ganoderma boninense released by peptide N-Glycosidase (PNGaseF) (2017-03-15)
Sarizan, Nur Maisarah; Allman, Sarah; Needs, Sarah; Han, Goh Hoe; Murad, Abdul Munir Abdul; Bakar, Farah Diba Abu; Seman, Idris Abu and Mackeen, Mukram Mohamed
In : International Conference on Natural Products 2017 (15-16 Mar 2017, Swiss-Garden Beach Resort Damai Laut, Lumut, Malaysia)
The Comparison of Different Methods for the Extraction of the Iminosugar Deoxynorjirimycin from Morus Alba (2017-03-15)
Sujangin, Norsuhadah; Sage, Edison; Abdullah, Zur Ain; Taib, Azney Zuhaily Md.; Kiappes, J.L.; Allman, Sarah; Zitzmann, Nicole; Nash, Robert J.; Mat, Nashriyah; Ali, Abdul Manaf and Mackeen, Mukram Mohamed
In : The International Conference on Natural Products 2017 (15-16 Mar 2017, Swiss-Garden Beach Resort, Damai Laut, Perak, Malaysia)
Inhibition of N-glycanase1 induces autophagic clearance of protein aggregates (2016-12)
Needs, Sarah; Bootman, Martin; Alonzi, Dominic and Allman, Sarah
In : 2016 Annual meeting of the Society for Glycobiology (November 19–22, 2016, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA) (pp. 1351-1499)
Cloning and expression of N-glycosylation-related mannosidase from Glaciozyma antarctica for the production of a mannosynthase (2016-11-17)
Elangovan, Dharshini; Kamaruddin, Shazilah; Hashim, Noor Haza Fazlin; Bakar, Farah Diba Abu; Murad, Abd. Munir Abd.; Mahadi, Nor Muhammad ; Allman, Sarah Ann and Mackeen, Mukram Mohamed
In : 2016 UKM FST Postgraduate Colloquium (13–14 April 2016, Selangor, Malaysia)
CRISPR /Cas9 gene editing to study N-glycanase1 deficiency (2016-10-19)
Needs, Sarah; Adan, Abdullahi; Berwick, Daniel; Bootman, Martin and Allman, Sarah
In : 3rd BioProNET Annual Scientific Symposium (19–20 October 2016, East Midlands Conference Centre, Nottingham, UK)
Inhibition of N-linked Protein Deglycosylation Stimulates Autophagy (2016-07-06)
Needs, Sarah; Alonzi, Dominic; Bootman, Martin D. and Allman, Sarah
In : Frankfurt Conference on Ubiquitin and Autophagy "Quality control in Life Processes" (04 – 07 July 2016, Goethe University Hospital, Frankfurt am Main, Germany)
Stimulation of autophagy by salicylamide derivatives - implications for viral infection (2016-07-04)
Needs, Sarah; Kaas, Soren; Horne, Tony; Alonzi, Dominic and Allman, Sarah
In : Frankfurt Conference on Ubiquitin and Autophagy “Quality control in life process” (04 – 07 July 2016, Goethe University Hospital, Frankfurt am Main, Germany)
Selective cancer cell toxicity and radiosensitization using different high atomic number nanoparticles (2016-06-02)
Grellet, S.; Kaas, S.; Crabb, E.; Allman, S. and Golding, J.
In : Nanotech France 2016 (1-3 June 2016, Paris, France)
Effects of Inhibition of N-linked Glycosylation on Cellular Autophagy (2016-03-16)
Needs, Sarah; Alonzi, Dominic; Bootman, Martin and Allman, Sarah
In : Evolution brings Ca2+ and ATP together to control life and death (16 - 17 March 2016, Kavli Royal Society Centre, Chicheley Hall, Newport Pagnell)
Production of α2-3 sialylated glyco-standards using a parasite-derived trans-sialidase for use in biopharmaceutical and glycomics analyses (2016)
Allman, Sarah
In : Glycobiotechnology 2016 (4 - 5 April 2016, Manchester)
UPLC-MS Screening of natural product extracts for the antidiabetic iminosugar deoxynorjirimycin (2015-11)
Sage, Edison E.; Elangovan, Dharshini; Abdullah, Zur Ain; Taib, Azney Zuhaily Md.; Ibrahim, Sarah; Baharum, Syarul Nataqain; Mohamed, Abdul Latiff; Kiappes, John L.; Allman, Sarah; Zitzmann, Nicole; Nash, Robert J.; Mat, Nashriyah; Ali, Abdul Manaf and Mackeen, Mukram Mohamed
In : Asian Network of Research on Antidiabetic Plants 2015 (8th ANRAP International Seminar) (23 - 25 Nov 2015, Grand Bluewave Hotel, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia)
Novel improved Ca2+ indicator dyes on the market-a comparative study of novel Ca2+ indicators with fluo-4 (2014-10-09)
Rietdorf, Katja; Chehab, Tala; Allman, Sarah and Bootman, Martin D.
In : Calcium Signalling: The Next Generation (9-10 October 2014, London, UK)
Structural analysis of isomeric N-glycans by ion mobility and negative ion fragmentation: applications to glycans released from fungi (2012-05-22)
Harvey, David J.; Allman, Sarah; Edgeworth, Matthew J. and Scrivens, James H.
In : American Society for Mass Spectrometry Annual Meeting 2012 (20-24 May 2012, Vancover, Canada)

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