Research in the Department of Biomedical Science is focused on understanding mechanisms underpinning the development and functioning of cells, organs and whole organisms in both health and disease.
Research groups are organized across these themes and many span multiple themes both within and beyond BMS, emphasizing the integrated and collaborative approaches that are critical in modern research.
Our interactions with clinical colleagues at the Sheffield hospitals are highly productive and ensure that the fundamental science being undertaken within the department is effectively disseminated into the medical arena.
The quality of our research is outstanding as demonstrated by our publication output, the international standing of many of our researchers and our sustained position in research assessment exercises (1st for Medical Research excellence and 5th for Biological Sciences, REF2014; Joint 3rd for Biological Sciences, RAE2008). We are also proud to host a number of prestigious independent research fellows and have a strong reputation for ensuring strong mentoring and support for researchers at all levels.
Our research is supported by outstanding Faculty of Science facilities all of which are housed within the Department. These include the light and electron microscope facilities; biological mass spectrometry; extensive zebrafish aquaria, a Drosophila facility, and RNAi screening.
We welcome applicants for PhD research projects that cover our theme areas. For a full list of studentships currently available, please see our PhD opportunities page.
We are seeking outstanding candidates wishing to launch their independent research careers by successful applications for independent research fellowships (IRFs).
Our research themes reflect the areas in which the department has particular strengths. Through seminars, away days and techniques workshops these themes help to foster interactions between groups working on related research areas. The themes also provide a framework for mentoring and development of our junior members and for underpinning our research-led teaching.
Cell biology research in BMS is focused on understanding fundamental cellular mechanisms with a particular emphasis on regulation of membrane traffic and cytoskeletal dynamics. These processes are essential not only for the behaviour of individual cells but also for how cells act in particular contexts and our studies therefore impact on other research themes within BMS.
Because membrane and cytoskeletal dynamics play such key roles in all cells, it follows that there are profound effects when they are defective and a number of our staff are exploring the cell biological defects that occur in diseases such as cancer and muscular dystrophy.
We have major strengths in pattern formation, epithelial morphogenesis, cell signalling and neural development, studying processes that occur at the level of single cells up to whole tissues and organs.
There is a focus on non-mammalian model systems, particularly Drosophila, zebrafish and chick, which is complemented by expertise in mouse genetics. The knowledge we gain from studies of development is also used to generate animal models of human disease.
Neuroscience in BMS extends from development of the nervous system and neuronal cell biology, through to sensory neurophysiology and computational modeling. We have internationally recognized strengths in sensory neuroscience of visual, auditory and olfactory systems.
We also have a growing interest in understanding the sensing and alleviation of chronic pain and in developing effective model systems for gaining insight into complex behavioral disorders such as stress and anxiety.
Stem cells are cells that can divide indefinitely while retaining not only their own characteristics, but also the ability to differentiate into other cell types. In BMS we focus on different types of stem cells, adult stem cells of the nervous system and muscles, which play key roles in replacing functional cells lost through aging or injury, pluripotent stem cells, which can be isolated from the very early embryo or induced by ‘reprogramming’ of adult cells. These cells are capable of differentiating to form all of the many cell types found in the adult body, opening up the prospect of using them to produce specific cells for regenerative medicine, to replace degenerating or diseased tissue.
In BMS we are working to understand the mechanisms that control the proliferation and differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells so that they can be used safely, for example, to treat diseases affecting the eyes, the ears and the nervous system.