Portrait of Professor Dan Mulvihill

Professor Dan Mulvihill

Professor in Cell and Molecular Biology


Dan Mulvihill acquired expertise in cell cycle and cytoskeleton research during his PhD (co-supervised by Profs Iain Hagan and David Glover FRS) and subsequent postdoctoral position in the lab of Prof. Jerry Hyams, where he used fission yeast to study the function of the actin associated motor proteins, myosins. In 2003 he was awarded a BBSRC David Phillips Fellowship and established his own group at the University of Kent to continue research on these conserved molecular motor proteins. In 2012 he was awarded a 4-year Royal Society Industry fellowship to work with Cairn Research Ltd to develop rapid multi-dimensionlive cell imaging systems. Researchers within his lab are investigating the regulation and function of the actomyosin cytoskeleton in eukaryotes. To do this they use a variety of cross discipline approaches to elucidate how differences in the kinetic and physical properties of the actomyosin cytoskeleton, relate to its cellular properties to uncover cellular functions. Recent studies include discovering a novel regulatory mechanisms by which formin nucleation affects recruitment of tropomyosin (an actin regulator) and subsequently modulates myosin activity, as well as exploring how cell cycle and stress dependent phosphoregulation affects the motor activity and function of myosin motors.
Dan is a member of the Cell Biology, Cancer Targets and Therapies Group and the Kent Fungal Group.
Research Career 

  • 1999 PhD Cell Biology, Universities of Dundee and Manchester 
  • 1999-2003 Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dept of Biology, UCL, London. 
  • 2003 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute, Heidelberg.
  • 2003-2008 BBSRC David Phillips Research Fellow, University of Kent.
  • 2008-2010 Lecturer in Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Kent
  • 2010-2013 Senior Lecturer in Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Kent
  • 2013 - 2019 Reader in Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Kent
  • 2019 - present, Professor in Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Kent 

ORCID ID: 0000-0003-2502-5274

Research interests

Intracellular movement is a fundamental property of all cell types, with many organelles and molecules being actively transported throughout the cytoplasm by molecular motors. This lab's research focuses upon the study of the function of actin based motors (or myosins) in the fission yeast, Schizosaccharomyces pombe. This is a cylindrical unicellular fungi, which grows exclusively at its actin rich cell poles. The cell's polarised growth is regulated by the "polarisome" – a group of proteins which move upon polymerising microtubules to the cell tips, where they are deposited and affect the function of actin cytoskeleton regulators to promote polarized cell growth. While actin patch structures are seen to concentrate at growing poles of the cell, actin filaments extend throughout the cytoplasm, providing a track on which myosins can travel. Using a comprehensive repertoire of cross-disciplinary techniques this lab explores how myosins move upon these actin filaments and function within the cell. 


Year 2 

  • Cell Biology - BI503   

Year 3 

  • The Cell Cycle - BI610 (Module convenor) 
  • Frontiers in Oncology - BI639 


MSc-R project available for 2020/21

How does phosphorylation of a molecular-motor regulate cellular growth?   
Co-supervisor Dr Karen Baker 

The function of all eukaryotic cells is dependent on a molecular architecture – the cytoskeleton. The structural framework of actin filaments and microtubules allow cells to resist deformation, while also being dynamic – permitting cell growth, division, attachment and movement. Many proteins enable the cytoskeleton to orchestrate these fundamental cellular functions. Tight control of this large protein network is required, and mis-regulation is responsible for many diseases including cancers and neurodegenerative disorders.
Additional Research costs: £1500
Bubbling at the surface”: Generating vesicles to enhance recombinant protein production and storage. Co-supervisor Dr Tara Eastwood

The therapeutic recombinant protein market is worth billions of pounds each year. We have developed a Vesicle Nucleating peptide which could potentially reduce the cost of producing many recombinant proteins in cells as diverse as the bacteria to mammalian expression systems. This project will investigate the effect of different media components on vesicle formation and release into media and how protein stability is affected by storage within vesicles. Using cell biology, molecular biology and biochemistry techniques this project has real biotechnology applications and forms part of an ongoing industrial collaboration with Fujifilm-Diosynth.
Additional Research costs: £1500

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