Prof Rachel McKendry

tel: +44 (0)20 7679 9995
ext: 39995
fax: +44 (0)20 7678 0595


Research interests:

Nanomedicine: Infection and cancer
Antibiotics and resistance
Single cell patterning and mechanics


Rachel McKendry is currently Reader in Biomedical Nanotechnology at the London Centre for Nanotechnology and Division of Medicine at University College London. She joined UCL in 2002 after a postdoctoral fellowship at IBM Zurich Research Laboratory, a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Research Fellowship and Girton College Research Fellowship at Cambridge. Prior to this she graduated from Durham University with a First Class Honours degree in Chemistry and was then awarded a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge (1999). She recently won the Institute of Physics Paterson Medal 2009 for the successful commercialisation of cantilever nanosensor technology. Rachel was also recognised in the Top 90 Women in Engineering’s 90th anniversary celebrations and by HRH the Queen for her research and academic excellence. Rachel has a strong track record in high impact publications including 4 Nature group papers and currently leads a £2m EPSRC Grand Challenge in Nanotechnology for Healthcare grant ‘Multimarker nanosensors for HIV’, a major cross-disciplinary project between chemists, engineers, virologists and clinicians from UCL and Imperial.

External positions held: 

• Steering Group of the UK Infectious Diseases Research Network.
• Editorial Board of Royal Society of Chemistry Journal Analyst.
• London Technology Network Emerging Medical Technologies Advisory Board.
• Industrial consulting with UCL Business, London Technology Network and Bio Nano Consulting.
• London Technology Network Business Fellow – training at London Business School.
• Organised conferences and networking events with the British Council and the Swiss Embassy.
• Women's Engineering Society (WES) Role Model - Inspiring Women in Engineering -

Memberships : 

Member of the Royal Society of Chemistry, General Society for Microbiology & Academy of Pharmaceutical Sciences.


Rachel currently leads a multidisciplinary research group of students and postdoctoral researchers. The group is focussed on both high quality fundamental science and translation for human health, particularly in the fields of infectious diseases and cancer. Research in the field of drug-resistant ‘superbugs’ such as MRSA and TB within her group includes the development of novel antibiotics, nanomechanical studies of pathogens across single molecule and cellular length scales, and a large effort in point-of-care devices for early-warning diagnostics. She is developing novel mechanical, nanoparticle, optical and electrochemical sensing devices and surface chemistries, and is working with industrial partners to commercialise a new generation of mobile health technologies in hospitals, GP surgeries and resource-limited settings, including the developing world. In the field of cancer, the group has current research efforts in exploiting nano-patterning methods to study the interplay of intrinsic and extrinsic cues that regulate cell shape, polarisation and division, in collaboration with Prof Buzz Baum LMCB UCL. The novel cell patterning methods also have diverse applications in drug screening and 3D tissue engineering.

**For PhD and postdoctoral opportunities please contact**

Selected Publications:
1) Differential stress induced by thiol adsorption on facetted nanocrystals’ Watari, M., McKendry, RA., Vögtli, M., Aeppli, G., Soh YA., Shi, X., Xiong, G., Huang, X., Harder R & Robinson, I Nature Mat. 10, 862 (2011). Featured in Nature Materials News and Views.

2) A Polarised Population of Dynamic Microtubules Mediates Homeostatic Length Control in Animal Cells’ Picone, R., Ren, XY., Ivanovitch, KD., McKendry R.A.* and B. Baum* PLOS Biol. 8, e1000542 (2010). F1000 ranking - top 2% of published articles in biology and medicine.

3) Nanomechanical Detection of Antibiotic Drug-target interactions and drug resistance on cantilever arrays’ Ndieyira, W.N., Watari, M., Donoso-Barrera, A., Batchelor, M., Zhou, D., Cooper, M., Dueck, B., Strunz, T., Abell, C.A., Rayment, T., Aeppli, G. & McKendry R.A.* Nature Nanotech. 3, 691 (2008). Featured in Nature News and Views, New Scientist, Physics Today, Chemistry World, UK Trade & Industry & EPSRC Annual report.

4) ‘Physics of Nanomechanical Biosensing on Cantilever Arrays’ Sushko, ML., Harding, JH., Shluger, AL, McKendry R.A.** & Watari M. Adv. Mat. 20, 3848 (2008).

5) ‘Rapid and label-free nanomechanical detection of biomarker transcripts in human RNA’ Zhang, J., Lang, H.P., Huber, F., Bietsch, A., Grange, W., Certa, U., McKendry, R. Guntherodt, H.J., Hegner, M. & Gerber, C. Nature Nanotech. 1, 214 (2006).

6) ‘Multiple label-free biodetection and quantitative DNA binding assays on a nanomechanical cantilever array’ McKendry, R. A., Zhang, J., Arntz, Y., Strunz, T., Hegner, M., Lang, H-P., Baller, M.K., Certa, U., Guntherodt, H-J & Gerber, Ch. Proc. Natl. Acad Sci. U.S.A. 99, 9783-9788 (2002).


Research Highlights

Exploiting nanomechanics to investigate the impact of dosing in a complex blood
A new methodology for rapidly measuring the level of antibiotic drug molecules in human blood serum has been developed,...
Schematic representation of a cantilever sensor array and the mode
A novel technique to confront the problem of antibiotic resistance has just been published in JoVE, the Journal of...
Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) image of the cantilever sensor array
A chilled beer or glass of wine are popular ways to relax after a long day, but what if nano-scale sensors could tell you...
Colour-coded images of surface strains in a gold nanocrystal
Differential stress induced by thiol adsorption on facetted nanocrystals When putting together a medical sensor for blood...
Cell on line
Living cells have an ‘in-built' system for controlling the length they grow to, according to research by...
Due to their smallness, nanomechanical resonators can sense masses down to a few atoms in vacuum. They typically transduce...
Nanotechnology boosts war on superbugs
Transformations of chemical energy into mechanical work (and back again) are widely used by the Nature to govern a broad...

EPSRC, IRC in Nanotechnology (Cambridge, Bristol, UCL), BBSRC, Royal Society, HFSP, industry.


London Centre for Nanotechnology BioNano Graduate Tutor.


Public Engagement work: interviews for BBC Radio 4 Today Programme and Naked Scientist and feature articles in New Scientist, Nanotechnology Magazine and EPSRC public engagement work.

Women's Engineering Society (WES) Role Model - Inspiring Women in Engineering -

General News

Professor Rachel McKendry recently spoke to Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcaster about the her research into mobile phone and web-tracking technologies to curb the spread of the next potentially massive deadly disease outbreak.
Professor Rachel McKendry from the London Centre for Nanotechnology and Division of Medicine at UCL was invited to represent EPSRC-funded research at the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology event held at the House of Commons, Westminster.