Areas of expertise

Research CentresOur core researchers have expertise in the basic biology of endocytosis, exocytosis, synaptic mechanisms and membrane-cytoskeletal interactions in yeast and mammalian tissue culture systems as well as genetically tractable models including Dictyostelium, Drosophila and zebrafish.

We use biochemical and cell biological assays coupled with high-resolution microscopy to understand the core machinery involved in membrane dynamics. Increasingly, PIs are exploring how these basic mechanisms are regulated in specific contexts.

In addition, CMIAD PIs benefit from University of Sheffield state-of-the-art microscopy facilities and microscopy development (IMAGINE), the Sheffield RNAi Screening Facility, the biOMICs mass spectrometry facility and bioinformatics expertise.

Developmental signalling

During embryonic development and to maintain adult homeostasis, a small number of signalling pathways are used repetitively. A key question is how these pathways are regulated in a context specific manner. PIs are testing the hypothesis that membrane trafficking can play a key role in cell and tissue specific regulation of inter- and intra-cellular signalling pathways.


The primary cilium is a specialised membrane microdomain of the plasma membrane that acts as a signal processing organelle for cells. Primary cilia are compositionally and functionally distinct from other areas of the plasma membrane. Vesicular transport delivers the proteins and lipids required to establish this plasma membrane subdomain.

Cell polarity and mechanotransduction

The ability of cells to be organised into tissues and organs, sense their own size and interact with the extracellular matrix during cell differentiation and tumour progression, requires an understanding of the mechanochemical principles governing cellular behavior. PIs are investigating how mechanochemical properties of cells contribute to cell polarisation and migration.

Membrane dynamics in disease

Expertise within CMIAD can help elucidate mechanisms underpinning disease. We interact with colleagues in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health to understand the role of endocytosis and phagocytosis in pathogen infection (Florey Institute), members of CIMA to elucidate mechanisms of musculoskeletal disease, members of the Sheffield Cancer Centre to understand mechanisms of metastasis, with cardiovascular scientists to devise methods for tissue regeneration of chronic wounds, and with members of the Sheffield Pain Network to develop novel therapies for treatment of chronic pain. Work on autophagy has direct relevance to understanding mechanisms of neurodegeneration and ageing