Dr Martin Nicklin MA PhD

Senior LecturerMartin Nicklin

Department of Infection Immunity & Cardiovascular Disease
University of Sheffield
Medical School
Beech Hill Road
S10 2RX

Tel: +44(0) 114 215 9541
Fax: +44(0) 114 271 3892
Email: m.nicklin@sheffield.ac.uk

Secretary: Ms Jean Lazenby
Tel: +44 (0) 114 215 9509
Email: j.lazenby@sheffield.ac.uk


I joined the University of Sheffield in October 1992 after studying for a PhD from 1980-1983, working on the biochemistry of cystatins (cysteine proteinase inhibitors) with Alan Barrett in Cambridge, then from 1984-1987 working as a post-doctoral Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell fellow at SUNY Stony Brook with Eckard Wimmer on the replication of poliovirus (the connection being the viral cysteine proteinases) and then between 1988 and 1991 as a Junior Scientist at the Institute for Molecular Pathology in Vienna, where I worked on DNA-binding proteins Fos and Jun. I began work at the University of Sheffield on mapping, discovering and searching for the functions of interleukin-1-like proteins (which we surmised would exist and would also be important!) in mouse and human. My research pathway has been from protein biochemistry through molecular biology into genetics and immunology.

Research Interests:

Interleukin-1 is powerful pleiotropic pro-inflammatory signalling protein that has been known since the early 1980s. However, its unique biological activity has really started to be identified in the past five years. IL-1 has a single known functional receptor and another IL-1-like protein, IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra) binds the receptor as a competitive inhibitor. In collaboration with Austin Smith, we developed IL-1Ra-deficient mice and my group and collaborators have characterised two of the chronic inflammatory phenotypes that these mice develop. Our mutations are available on BALB/c and C57BL/6 backgrounds. The strains develop different autoimmune conditions including elastic-vessel vasculitis, a psoriasis-like a skin inflammation and rheumatoid arthritis-like disease. One of the most interesting findings, in collaboration with Leo Joosten and colleagues in Nijmegen, was the demonstration that early onset arthritis in the BALB/c strain is dependent on specific gut colonisation by microbes. We had long suspected a microbial trigger on the basis of the timing and clustering of disease onset.

My other research interest is in defining the critical biological function of a group of IL-1-like proteins that now are collectively known as IL-36, whose genes we had previously helped identify and map. We are working to identify essential functions that have led to active IL-1-like genes being present in all sequenced mammalian genomes and yet are specific to mammals.

Teaching Intersts:

Currently my major teaching interest is in leading, developing and teaching the MSc in Molecular Medicine.  In 2010 our team (Fran├žois Guesdon, Jon Shaw, Helen Marriott, Ilaria Bellantuono, Janine Kirby, Jane Shields and myself) won the Senate Award for 'Excellence in Collaboration in Teaching'. We teach students up-to-date knowledge and technology. We also see the course as a means to develop students' skills in reading, thinking and writing like scientists. This is an intense one-year masters course, featuring six months of taught modules and five months of lab work on an individual (selected) project. The course is designed to train appropriate graduates in the reality of doing novel scientific research. We have taken on 420 students over the six years that I have led the course. The course currently has pathways in "Genetic Mechanisms", "Experimental Medicine", "Neuroscience", "Cancer", "Cardovascular" and "Microbes and Infection". Students can chose pathways after they have been with us for 10 weeks. I personally run modules entitled "From Genome to Gene Function" (MED6002) and "Genome and Sequence Analysis" (MED6005) which will also be available as Doctoral development modules, and I teach on two other modules as well as reguarly supervising laboratory projects.

Professional Activities:

I am a long standing and active member of the University's Local Genetic Modification Committee and I sit on the School and Faculty Postgraduate Taught Programmes Committees.

Current Projects:

  • Identifying the connection between IL-1Ra-deficiency and chronic inflammatory diseases.
  • Finding the essential biological functions of members of the interleukin-1 family of cytokines.


For key publications see below.  For a full list of publications click here.

Journal articles