School of Biosciences

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Research groups

Research within the School of Biosciences has three main themes:

Protein Science

Protein Science (Co-ordinator: Geeves) encompasses researchers involved in Industrial Biotechnology and Synthetic Biology, and Protein Form and Function. The groups work together to address specific challenges to enhance molecular processes such as a) defining biological mechanisms that underpin synthesis and bioprocessing of metabolites and protein-based pharmaceuticals; b) folding, structure, function and regulation of proteins of medical relevance; and c) dynamic aspects of molecular motors and cytoskeletal proteins. An integrated approach to protein science is taken on all projects ranging from protein folding catalysts to protein misfolding and rectification through studying binding interactions. NMR, X-ray crystallography, AFM and live cell imaging skills are embedded in these groups. Research combines science and engineering and involves design and construction of new biological functions and systems, plus the optimisation of metabolic pathways. The group has many industrial contacts (e.g. Lonza Biologics, UCB, Pfizer, Medimmune, GSK) and works closely with control process engineers and computational modellers. Significant achievements include: elucidating the cobalamin biosynthetic pathway (Warren, Geeves) and demonstrating the potential to engineer recombinant organelles in E. coli raising the possibility of orchestrating bespoke bioreactors in vivo (Warren, Mulvihill). Geeves, has for the first time, isolated and characterized the two isoforms of human myosin found in heart tissue.

Theme members:
Professor Mike Geeves (Co-ordinator), Professor David Brown, Dr Emma Hargreaves, Professor Colin Robinson, Professor Mark Smales, Dr. Steffi Frank, Professor Martin Warren, Dr Richard WilliamsonDr Wei Feng Xue.

Molecular Microbiology

Molecular Microbiology (Co-ordinator: Tuite) encompasses researchers interested in Yeast Molecular Biology (incorporating the Kent Fungal Group) and Microbial Pathogenesis.  The Kent Fungal Group is composed of Professor Mick Tuite, Dr Campbell Gourlay and Dr Tobias von der Haar. In addition Dr Dan Mulvihill and Dr Alessia Buscaino are closely linked to this group as is Professor Fritz Mühlschlegel, a Consultant Microbiologist in the NHS. The Microbial Pathogenesis group embrace research on bacterial pathogens (Dr Ian Blomfield, Dr Mark Shepherd, Dr Gary Robinson, viruses (Dr Jeremy Rossman) and protozoa (Dr Tasos Tsaousis).

Overall the Molecular Microbiology groups work together to address focussed questions of genetic control, cellular morphology and pathogenicity. The Kent Fungal Group studies key cellular processes in the yeast cell such as protein synthesis, apoptosis, protein folding and cell division, the group also use yeast to explore the molecular basis of human disease and ageing. The Microbial Pathogenesis group further focuses on understanding the molecular basis of bacterial and viral pathogenicity and includes research into the transcriptional and post- transcriptional control of bacterial gene expression by phase variation, and the role of morphology in the influenza virus lifecycle.

Researchers in the Molecular Microbiology group have recently made a number of significant scientific discoveries. These include demonstration of the importance of conformational flexibility in prion propagation in living yeast cells (Tuite), the first experimentally calibrated genome-wide computational model of mRNA translation in a eukaryotic cell (von der Haar), demonstrating that dysfunctional mitochondria can serve as a signalling platform to promote the loss of redox homeostasis, ROS accumulation and accelerate aging in yeast (Gourlay) and the identification of the first virally-encoded scission protein (Rossman).

Theme members:
Professor Mick Tuite (Co-ordinator), Dr Ian BlomfieldDr Campbell Gourlay, Professor Fritz Mühlschlegel, Dr Gary Robinson, Dr Jeremy RossmanDr Mark ShepherdDr Tasos Tsaousis, Dr Tobias von der Haar.

Biomolecular Medicine

Biomolecular Medicine (Co-ordinator: Griffin) encompasses researchers involved in Cell Biology, Cancer Targets and Therapies and Cytogenomics and Bioinformatics. These groups work collectively to focus on research that has practical and therapeutic applications in prognosis, prediction, diagnosis and treatment of disease. This includes fundamental investigations into the formation and behaviour of chromosomes at mitosis and meiosis helps exploit the interface with genomics to study genome evolution, selection, structure, inheritance and reproductive medicine. This is coupled closely with high performance computational methods that have been generated to allow analysis of databases and inheritance patterns. Significant achievements include: a novel means of enhancing the effectiveness of Herceptin as an inhibitor of breast cancer cell growth, new methods to allow protein docking to predict protein-protein interactions (Wass) elucidating the evolutionary relationships between the major sequenced mammalian and avian genomes (Griffin) and a universal approach for the detection of genetic disease in IVF embryos (Handyside and Griffin).

Theme members:
Professor Darren Griffin (Co-ordinator), Dr Anthony Baines, Dr Alessia Buscaino, Professor Michelle Garrett, Dr Alan Handyside, Dr Dan LloydProfessor Martin Michaelis, Dr Dan Mulvihill, Dr Pauline Phelan, Dr Mark Wass, .

Activities in each of these areas are coordinated through integrated research support groups (RSG). Academic staff, research fellows and their associated research groups are associated with one (sometimes two) RSGs and these groups meet on a regular basis to discuss joint grant applications, equipment needs and internal research collaborations.

Several members of staff of the Medway School of Pharmacy are also affiliated to one or other of these groups.


immunocytochemistry on mammalian cells

Enquiries: Phone: +44 (0)1227 823743

School of Biosciences, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NJ

Last Updated: 05/07/2016