Themes

Our research tackles key grand challenges faced by the world in health, food and sustainability, seeking to provide the knowledge of the underlying mechanisms and developing the tools for finding innovative solutions.

Our six challenge-led research themes are characterised by integration across multiple levels of scale from the molecular to system-level organisation and the incorporation of big data and modelling approaches.

Our themes integrate with the research themes of the College of Biomedical and Life Sciences.

Our themes

Cancer

Many of the researchers in the European Cancer Stem Cell Institute are members of the School of Biosciences. Further research includes mechanisms of human cancers of the mammary, bowel, pancreas, prostate, brain and blood using genetically engineered murine models, and collaborations with the Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Engineering living systems

The new approaches of synthetic biology together with molecular design are providing ways to engineer complex biological systems to have new characteristics and carry out new processes and syntheses and new ways to deliver drugs into cells. Work in this theme involves close collaborations with the Schools of Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, and Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.

Mechanisms of life and disease

Central to both normal function and disease are the fundamental cellular processes of processing and signalling information, which then interface with higher level physiological system functions and responses, in which interactions with microorganisms and infectious agents are important.

Stem cells play key roles in both normal development, in sustaining healthy cell and tissue function, and in the processes of aging and degenerative disease offering great potential for regenerative biology and eventual therapies.

Neuroscience

Molecular and cellular neurobiology underpins the higher level aspects of neuronal development, synaptic plasticity, learning and memory. Both the normal neurophysiology of neurons and the brain and during neurodegeneration in the ageing nervous system provide insight into function and potential therapeutic directions including stem cell therapies.

Sustainable planet

This theme focuses on meeting the challenge of feeding a world of ten billion people in the face of accelerating global change, whilst sustaining both the planet's biodiversity and the essential services that its ecosystems provide. It involves close collaboration with the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences.

New technologies

This enabling theme provides the new technologies that underpin advances and understanding in the other theme areas. It incorporates the development and provision of technologies for research, as well as new research methodologies such as predictive biology and multi-scale modelling, big data biology and single molecule technologies.

The development and application of new modalities for quantitative imaging in collaboration with the School of Physics and Astronomy is a particular strength, together with new diagnostics and sensors.