Molecular and Cellular Biology

Cancer cells

  Our research

We aim to understand the fundamental processes that underpin life. This allows us to find out what goes wrong in disease, discover new ways for therapeutic intervention and design new biotechnologies. Using a combination of basic and applied science, we address major global health challenges, from cancer and aging to infectious disease.

Our research focuses on understanding the fundamental rules of life. Correct gene regulation, signalling and communication between cells underlies the formation and maintenance of all organisms. Many of the most pressing global health issues are caused by underlying defects in cellular function, such as the mutations that increase susceptibility to cancer and neurodegeneration, and the ways in which pathogens manipulate their hosts.

We ask questions from how individual molecules form and function, to how they work within a cell and how these cells work together within a whole organism. This is driven by both an innate curiosity about how the cellular machine works and the desire to use this knowledge to understand and treat disease and design new biotechnologies.

To achieve our goals, we develop and employ a variety of multidisciplinary approaches. Using a wide range of cellular and whole-organism models such as mice, Drosophila and zebrafish, we use the cutting-edge core facilities at Sheffield to combine molecular approaches such as cryo-EM with advanced light microscopy, genomics, biochemistry and modelling. Our key areas of strength in nucleic acid biology, the cytoskeleton, membrane trafficking and cell polarity cover some of the most important aspects of cellular function. With our collaborators across and beyond the university, our research provides a better understanding of life, health and disease, driving the discoveries, treatments and technologies of the future.

Research highlights

Recent grant awards

  • Dr Emma Thomson (School of Biosciences) is part of a collaborative team recently awarded a BBSRC sLoLa grant for a project entitled 'Unlocking the secrets of specialised ribosomes across eukaryotes” (Total £5,719,105, Sheffield share £1,059,169). The five-year project - in collaboration with the University of Leeds and University of Nottingham – aims to better understand fundamental regulatory mechanisms governing gene expression.


For further information and research opportunities, please see the staff page of individual researchers below or email us:

Research centres and institutes

Our research in molecular and cellular biology is supported by and feeds into the following flagship research institutes and centres.

Study opportunities

    Flagship institutes

    The University’s four flagship institutes bring together our key strengths to tackle global issues, turning interdisciplinary and translational research into real-world solutions.