Research expertise at the Bateson Centre

To understand human disease, it is essential to study patients with the disease. This generates research questions that can only be tested by building a model - either an animal model or a computer generated model that behaves like some aspect of the human disease.

Copycat fungus


These models can then give important insights that can feed back to studies in humans. We believe that new understanding of human disease will need the generation of new, innovative models, informed by existing models but not constrained by them. We use many different models, but have world-leading expertise in generation of innovative disease models in the zebrafish.

Basic Scientists and Clinicians from the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health transcend departmental boundaries to exploit synergies between their complementary expertise within the theme of Innovative Models for Understanding Human Disease.

Our strengths in this area have attracted a large number of junior fellows to Sheffield, who bring prestigious external fellowships, and we are intent on nurturing this "youth team" into highly successful independent scientists.

Maintaining health

Cycling the Lakeland Monster Miles challenge

Principal Investigators (PIs) in the Centre take advantage of a wide range of tractable animal model systems - Drosophila, zebrafish, chick, mouse and Dictyostelium.

At one end of our research spectrum, we use these organisms to examine growth, differentiation and morphogenesis in real-time, asking how tissues are formed from dividing and migrating cells and how cells are organised in 2D planes or 3D structures.

We investigate how resident stem cells enable the body to remodel and adapt to changes over the lifespan and examine how old tissue is broken down to enable new tissue to grow, and the dual role of phagocytes in tissue plasticity and host defence.

Many aspects of our work have a strong emphasis on understanding molecular and cellular mechanisms and greatly benefit from interactions with the Centre for Membrane Interactions and Dynamics (CMIAD).

The important role of mechanical forces in morphogenesis and cell behaviour is leading to increased interactions with physical scientists and engineers with interests in the growing field of mechanobiology; additionally, a number of groups are adopting computational modelling as a tool to understand how myriad individual molecular and cellular interactions lead to the emergence of form and cell behaviours.

Treating disease

Test tubes

At the other end of our research spectrum, we study disease, degeneration and decline, all of which occur when the mechanisms which maintain homeostatic balance within the body are disrupted.

We explore medical problems that pose major health burdens to our society, including nervous and musculoskeletal disorders cardiovascular disease, chronic inflammatory diseases and cancer.

There is a growing awareness that chronic diseases are the biological consequences of adverse interactions between genetically-determined disease susceptibilities and risk-modifying environmental factors.

The simple model organisms that we use provide remarkably powerful tools to investigate these pathogenetic mechanisms, by visualising biological change, including repair and regeneration, in real-time within the body, and to identify and then characterise the roles that different genes, proteins and cells play in these processes.

To support these activities, The University has world-class Zebrafish aquaria and Drosophila vivaria and state-of-the-art microscopy including two new LightSheet microscopes (BBSRC- and BHF-funded) as well as two MRC-funded Super-Resolution microscopes.

Our Small Molecule Screening Unit provides a platform on which to examine cellular dysregulation and the means to screen for small molecules that can modulate cellular behaviours in model organisms.

The insights obtained from these screens act as a springboard to develop new therapies for diseases.

The model systems we use to study development at the basic research level also act as powerful tools to identify, develop and test new drugs that may be able to treat a range of common diseases in the future.

Contact us

The Bateson Centre
Firth Court
The University of Sheffield
Western Bank
Sheffield S10 2TN

Tel: +44 114 222 2334

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