The process of life

How is life generated and maintained?

We are elucidating the complex processes that underpin the emergent behaviour of molecular networks and how these coalesce to generate the robust properties that define life through cells to populations. We work across bacteria, fungi, plants, animals and humans, not only studying them alone but also how they interact to shape each other’s destinies and behaviour.

We study how life develops and functions throughout its course in health and disease, how it evolves across the generations and the effect of technological, behavioural, and clinical interventions designed to improve key outcomes such as wellbeing.

We have a total of £48 million in grant income in this area. This success is mediated by world-class facilities and an interconnected network of interdisciplinary institutes and centres including:







Sheffield Robotics

Krebs Institute

Sheffield Neuroscience

The next generation of microscopy technology

Researchers in the Imagine: Imaging Life institute are using the latest advanced microscopy tools to shed new light on life and disease. Their expertise in atomic force, cryo-electron and optical microscopy has forged a unique centre of excellence for microscopy.

Life Under the Microscope


Undergraduate students build research-grade single molecule FRET microscope for bio-imaging lab

John Cully and James Baxter

For their final year project, two University of Sheffield chemistry and physics students build a research-grade microscope that scientists can use in ground-breaking biological studies.

Full story

Study opportunities

We run fascinating undergraduate and postgraduate programmes across four bioscience departments.

Visit our Biosciences at Sheffield site to learn about opportunities in Animal and Plant Sciences, Biomedical Science, Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, and Psychology.

Biosciences at Sheffield

New hope in search for motor neuron disease treatment

Professor Sherif El-Khamisy led a study into the genetic and cellular malfunctions that lead to the symptoms of motor neuron disease. It found that the most common genetic cause of the illness was when part of a gene called C9orf72 repeated, making the patient's DNA become unstable and break.

Full story


Crowdsourcing friendly bacteria helps MRSA superbug cause infection


Antimicrobial resistant pathogens crowdsource friendly bacteria to survive in immune cells and cause disease.

Full story


How cells vital for organ function arise early during embryonic development


Scientists discover how vital neurons and cells that control the function of crucial organs develop in the womb.

Full story

Understanding autism spectrum conditions in adulthood

Professor Elizabeth Milne led a major project to develop a deeper understanding of people with autism spectrum conditions, particularly those diagnosed in adulthood. She also ran a series of events to help the public better understand the autism spectrum.

Learn more

Brain tingles: First study of its kind reveals physiological benefits of ASMR

In a groundbreaking study, Dr Guilia Poeiro found that those who experience Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or 'brain tingles', had significantly reduced heart rates while watching ASMR videos compared to people who do not experience ASMR.

Full story


Nobel Prize winner opens state-of-the-art cryo-electron microscopy lab


Professor Per Bullough invited his former supervisor Dr Richard Henderson to unveil Sheffield's new Arctica microscope.

Full story


Genetic 'toolkit' helps periwinkles gain advantage on the seashore


Research by Professor Roger Butlin has shown how periwinkles develop different characteristics according to where they live.

Full story


New super-resolution probe captures cells in unprecedented detail

Cell microscopy

Professor Jim Thomas led a study that captured striking 3D images of DNA within nuclei at scales below 40 nanometres.

Full story


Advanced and super-resolution microscopy

Researchers in the University of Sheffield's Imagine: Imaging Life project capture spectacular biological images using the latest atomic force, cryo-electron and optical microscopy technologies.

You can see a selection of the group's on their Flickr page.

Imagine: Imaging Life on Flickr

Imagine 1

Imagine 2

Imagine 3

VIDEO     Our research centres 

Imagine: Imaging Life



Florey Institute



Krebs Institute