Portrait of Professor Martin Michaelis

Professor Martin Michaelis

Professor of Molecular Medicine
Biosciences Athena Swan Co-ordinator


Martin Michaelis received his Pharmacy Degree (Approbation, 1998) and his PhD (2001) from the Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He then worked as postdoc and later deputy group leader in the research group of Professor Jindrich Cinatl at the Institute of Medical Virology (Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany) and the Dr Petra Joh-Forschungshaus, a private research institute run by the Frankfurter Stiftung für krebskranke Kinder in Frankfurt am Main. In 2011, Martin joined the University of Kent. He runs a joint wet/ dry laboratory research group together with Dr Mark Wass.

ORCID ID: 0000-0002-5710-5888

Research interests

The research of Professor Michaelis is focused on the identification and investigation of drugs and their mechanisms of action. The primary interest lies on acquired drug resistance in cancer. In collaboration with Professor Jindrich Cinatl (Goethe-University, Frankfurt am Main), he manages and develops the Resistant Cancer Cell Line (RCCL) Collection a unique collection of >1,300 cancer cell lines with acquired resistance to anti-cancer drugs.
In addition, Professor Michaelis is interested in virulence mechanisms and therapeutic targets in viruses and in meta-research that investigates research practices in the life sciences.


  • Virology - BI620  
  • Frontiers in Oncology - BI639
  • Cancer Biology - BI642 
  • The Molecular and Cellular Basis of Cancer - BI837 
  • Cancer Therapeutics - BI840 
  • Viral Pathogens - BI856 
  • Cancer Research in Focus - BI857 


MSc-R project available for 2020/21

Investigating the determinants of SARS Coronavirus-2 pathogenicity (joint supervision with Dr Mark Wass)
Severe Acute Respiratory Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) is currently causing a global pandemic with much of the world in a lockdown state to limit the spread of the virus and number of cases and deaths that it causes. There are now many thousands of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences obtained from those infected. These can be analysed to advance our understanding of the genetic and molecular features that determine the properties of the virus. This project will focus on using computational approaches to compare the thousands of SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences with those of SARS-CoV, the related virus that caused the 2002-2003 SARS Coronavirus outbreak. While these two viruses are closely related there are important differences in the disease that they cause. For example, SARS-CoV-2 has a much lower death rate and appears to be more easily transmitted. We have already begun research in this area (see our preprint here: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.03.024257v1 
and this project will expand on this work. Additional research cost: £1500
Investigation of drug-adapted cancer cell lines joint supervision with Dr Mark Wass We host the Resistant Cancer Cell Line (RCCL) collection, the worldwide largest collection of drug-adapted cancer cell lines and models of acquired drug resistance in cancer at Kent. Here, drug-adapted cancer cell lines will be characterised and investigated to gain novel insights into the processes underlying resistance formation and to identify novel therapy candidates (including biomarkers). We offer wet lab and computational projects in this area. Additional research costs: £1500
Investigating determinants of virus pathogenicity joint supervision with Dr Mark Wass Our research has recently compared different species of Ebolaviruses to identify parts of their proteins that determine if they are pathogenic. This project will apply these computational approaches to different types of viruses (e.g. Zika virus, west Nile, human papillomavirus) to identify determinants of virus pathogenicity and gain insight into what make some viruses highly virulent while others are harmless. Additional research costs: £1500
Design of cancer cell-specific drug carrier systems (joint supervision Dr Christopher Serpell, School of Physical Sciences) The Serpell lab has produced perfectly sequence-defined polymers which self-assemble to give nanostructures with a remarkable variety of size and shape according to sequence and conditions (N. Appukutti, C. J. Serpell, Sequence Isomerism in Uniform Polyphosphoesters Programmes Self-Assembly and Folding, ChemRxiv, preprint posted 04.02.19, DOI: https://doi.org/10.26434/chemrxiv.7666316.v1. In this project, the effects of the polymer nanostructure on cell uptake and therapeutic efficacy will be studied in different cancer cells. This will provide pioneering insights into the prospects of sequence-defined polymers as carrier systems for anti-cancer drugs. Additional research costs: £1500 

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