Molecular Biosciences

Molecular Biosciences is a research area within which you can focus your studies as part of our suite of Biosciences research programmes (PhD, MPhil, MD).

Molecular Biosciences focuses on the molecular mechanisms underpinning biological function. The 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.

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.


Administrative contact(s)

Beth Beckett

Administrative contact

Research within the Division includes engineering protein structure and function, gene regulation, chromatin function, molecular genetics of development, cancer biology, and basic cell biological processes, such as cell division, cell death, cell signalling, motility and chemotaxis.

The spectrum of research activities includes:

  • 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 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
  • 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
  • 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

For details of ongoing projects and collaborations, please visit the web pages of individual Molecular Biosciences Division members.


We currently have a range of projects available to apply for within the School of Biosciences, some of which are offered as part of our range of DTP involvements.

Cytoplasmic RNA regulation in cell motility

This project will investigate how cytoplasmic RNA regulation impacts on cell motility and immune function, by studying conserved RNA-binding proteins and their interactions with candidate mRNAs.

Transcriptional landscaping in plant stem cells

Agriculture depends on the activity of meristems – small populations of pluripotent stem cells from which all major plant tissues and organs are produced.

Sensing local biological environments with coherent optical nanoscopy

The development of novel imaging tools and technologies, including super-resolution optical microscopy, has revolutionised our understanding of biological processes in living cells.

Developmental and molecular analysis of sperm production in Drosophila

This project links developmental biology and determination of cell fate, through transcriptional controls that interpret that cell fate decision and control differentiation to evolution and optimisation of reproductive function.

Protein interactions in the regulation of a model cell differentiation program

Cell differentiation programs drive the production of specialised tissues from progenitor cells during animal development.

The role of P2X7-dependent signal transduction in inflammatory signalling and cell proliferation

P2X7 receptors are plasma membrane cation channels gated by extracellular ATP, which are found in immune cells, stem cells and cancer cells.

A Synthetic Reaction-Diffusion System for Engineering Patterning and Self-Organisation in Plant Stem Cells

Reaction-diffusion systems are employed in biology to establish patterns associated with the formation of distinct tissues and organs at the multicellular scale.


There are currently no funding opportunities available.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

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Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

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Programme information

For programme structure, entry requirements and how to apply, visit the Biosciences programme.

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Postgraduate Information Fair

Meet us at our Information Fair on 2 March 2017.

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