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Molecular Biosciences Research Division

Wholemount of mammary fat pad transplanted with primary mammary epithelial cells transduced ex vivo with a lentivirus expressing GFP. Bar = 225 um.

The Division of Molecular Biosciences focuses on the molecular mechanisms underpinning biological function. This Division has a broad strength that spans biochemistry, structural and synthetic biology, cell biology, molecular genetics and developmental biology. The groups within Molecular Biosciences focus on a variety of biological systems including Drosophila, yeast, Arabidopsis, tobacco, Dictyostelium, and mammalian cells, and have a growing strength in the use of post-genomic and systems approaches to solve biological problems.

Professor Jim Murray (Research Division Leader)
Plant cellular development; plant and molecular biotechnology

Professor Trevor Dale (Deputy Research Division Leader)
Wnt signalling and breast cancer

Professor Paola Borri (Physics)
Biophotonics and novel techniques for scanning microscopy

Professor Alun Davies FRS 
Vertebrate neuron development

Dr Barend HJ de Graaf
Pollen Pistil Interactions and Membrane Trafficking

Professor John Harwood
Acyl lipid metabolism and function

Professor Yrjö Helariutta (International Affiliate)

Professor Robert Huber (International Affiliate)
Structural biology

Dr Angharad Jones (Independent Researcher Scheme)
Cell growth and division in plant development

Dr Dafydd Jones
Protein structural and functional plasticity; protease structure and function 

Dr Nick Kent
Chromatin structure and function

Dr Sonia Lopez de Quinto
RNA regulation through spatial localization

Dr Hilary Rogers
Plant molecular cell biology: senescence mechanisms and cell cycle

Professor Ben Scheres (International Affiliate)

Dr Mike Taylor
Cell differentiation in Drosophila

Dr Wynand Van der Goes van Naters
Molecular basis of sensory systems in insects

Dr Peter Watson
Protein and lipid trafficking

Dr Helen White-Cooper
Gene regulation in sperm development in Drosophila.

Dr Mark Young
Membrane protein structural biology


Affiliated Teaching Staff

Molecular Biosciences is an innovative, well-funded and cohesive Division with excellent modern facilities for a broad range of techniques. It has close links with Chemistry in structural biology and with Physics in the development of advanced imaging technologies, and collaborates globally with academic and industrial partners.

Research within Molecular Biosciences has a broad impact in areas including increasing our understanding of basic biological systems, improving diagnosis and therapy for human diseases and the development of novel commercialisable technologies.

The spectrum of research activities includes engineering protein structure and function, gene regulation, chromatin function, molecular genetics of development, stress responses, cancer biology, and basic cell biological processes, such as cell division, cell death, cell signalling, motility and chemotaxis.

Research Areas

  • Gene function and expression in Drosophila muscle and heart differentiation
  • Regulation of gene expression in Drosophila spermatogenesis
  • Regulation of mRNA translation in time and space in Drosophila development
  • Molecular basis of sensory systems and extracellular signalling
  • Genome-wide chromatin analysis in yeast to study gene regulation and DNA repair
  • Control of GSK-3 mediated cell signalling and protein complexes
  • Wnt signalling and breast cancer
  • Control of Dictyostelium chemotaxis and morphogenesis
  • Cell fate determination in heart development
  • Regulation of protein and lipid trafficking
  • Pollen-pistil interactions and membrane trafficking in plant reproduction
  • Molecular and cell biology of the plant cell cycle
  • Metabolism and function of lipids in plants
  • Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in health and disease
  • Regulation of plant senescence and stress responses
  • Systems biology and modelling approaches to understanding the integration of cell division in plant development
  • Structural and mechanistic basis of restriction endonuclease specificity
  • Structure of the 26S proteasome components
  • Structure of membrane proteins using electron microscopy approaches
  • Design of novel protein scaffolds and molecular switches
  • Synthetic biology through a reprogrammed genetic code.
  • Novel molecular diagnostics using bioluminescent outputs in real-time
  • Novel laser-scanning microscopy based on Coherent Antistokes Raman Scattering
  • Novel optical biosensors
  • Neurotrophic and growth factors in developing nervous system.