Professor Ibrahim Banat

Professor of Microbial Biotechnology

School of Biomedical Sciences

Coleraine campus

Room W0068,
Cromore Road,
Co. Londonderry,
BT52 1SA,

Biomedical Sciences Research

Professor of Microbial Biotechnology

Professor Ibrahim Banat


Professor Ibrahim Banat completed his PhD at the University of Essex in 1982 and has more than 30 years experience in industrial microbiology and Biotechnological application in research, industrial and academic establishments in Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Italy and the UK.

Professor Banat has established collaborations with industry and academic institutions both national and internationally.

At present he holds a professorship chair at Ulster University. His main areas of research are microbial biosurfactants’ production and their biotechnological and industrial application for environmental, pharmaceutical and health related areas.

He has also been involved in research areas related to petroleum and hydrocarbon microbiology, microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR), bioremediation, ethanol and biofuel production.

Professor Banat has over 200 publications in international refereed journals, books and symposium proceedings.

Research interests

Professor Banat is a recognised expert in the use of biosurfactants for pharmaceutical and environmental applications.

He is involved in research which aims to develop a generic platform technology for the fermentative production of biosurfactants using metabolically engineered yeasts strains equipped with new combinations of genes and pathways to synthesize tailor-made and new-to-nature biosurfactants.

Such compounds are screened for their direct and indirect antimicrobial effect, effect on biofilm formation, immunomodulating effects, wound healing properties and anti-cancer activity.

Another area of interest is investigating how novel biosurfactants, dispersants and sorbent materials, particularly those of biological origin can be used in the treatment of oil spills in marine and terrestrial environments.

Finally areas of downstream processing capability of microbially derived biosurfactants using supercritical CO2 are also under investigation

Current funded projects

  • Sustainable laundry detergents using new and existing biotechnology. Department of Trade and Industry and Unilever
  • Optimisation of Rhamnolipid biosurfactants production using combined molecular and culture approaches. CAST award for PHD student. Unilever UKCR
  • New-to-nature biosurfactants by metabolic engineering: production and application (BIOSURFING). EU:KBBE.2011.3.3-03: Cellular, metabolic and genetic engineering for novel compounds.
  • Development of rhamnolipids biosurfactant production systems using non-pathogenic producers CAST award for PhD student. Unilever UKCR.
  • Integrated Biotechnological Approaches for Combating Marine Oil Spills (KILL.SPILL).
  • EU:  “KBBE.2012.3.5-01: Innovative biotechnologies for tackling oil spill disasters (The Ocean of Tomorrow)”, EU:  “KBBE.
  • Downstream processing of microbially derived biosurfactants using supercritical CO2. (TSB).  Technology Strategy Board, UK and Unilever
  • Department of Education and Learning Northern Ireland
  • Novel, Sustainable Marine Bio-Surfactants/Bio-emulsifiers for commercial exploitation a Horizon H2020-BG-2014-2, 635340 – (MARISURF)
  • Nanoscale AFM investigation of the mechanism underlying the synergistic actions of biosurfactants and antibiotics against pathogenic bacterial biofilms. Joint Grant Holder
  • A PoC project: Propane Production By Novel Marine Microorganisms: a route to sustainable commercial production of propane. Invest NI project PoC 909
  • ICURe Sustainable Natural Glycolipids for Healthcare. SophroCARE
  • The use of specific congeners of microbial sophorolipids to reduce tumour growth in the gastrointestinal tract or integument and prevent gut bleeding in a range of human pathologies – Invest NI project PoC 826