Research Themes


Our department's research has an excellent reputation. Molecular Biology and Biotechnology was ranked number one in the UK for the impact and quality of our medical research in the Research Excellence Framework, and we're in the top five for our biological science research. Below, you can find out about the key research themes that our academic staff are pursuing.

Major Themes

Research in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology is addressing some of the key issues affecting our society. Choose a topic to find out how.

Plants and Photosynthesis

We study how plants, algae and photosynthetic bacteria develop and how they respond to natural and man-made environmental change.

We devise new approaches to improve agriculture, secure environmental and resources, maintain biodiversity and utilise photosynthetic organisms for sustainable production of biofuels and other high-value products.  

Plants and Photosynthesis

Host-Pathogen Interactions and Antimicrobial Resistance

We are elucidating the complex processes that define the behaviour of host/pathogen interactions, using a range of bacterial human pathogens.

Understanding of and finding solutions to antimicrobial resistance is at the forefront of our research. 

Host-Pathogen Interactions

Nucleic acids in Health and Ageing

We study how DNA and RNA function in health and disease, how they evolve across the generations and the mechanisms that ensures their stability and function. We elucidate how perturbations in their function cause disease with a focus on cancer, ageing and neurological disorders. We exploit this knowledge to improve diagnosis and personalise clinical interventions.


Cross-cutting technologies

The three major research themes of the department are supported by our cross-cutting technologies.

Super-Resolution Imaging

We use revolutionary imaging techniques to answer some of the biggest questions in biology and medicine. 

SIM image of chloroplasts

Synthetic Biology and Biotechnology

We utilise techniques in molecular genetics and synthetic biology techniques to address a diverse range of research questions. 


Structural Biology

Exploring the architecture and interactions of biological systems in atomic detail.


Independent Research Fellowships

Our programme for Independent Research Fellows is designed to establish you as a research leader in an ambitious, vibrant and supportive environment.

Long-term Fellows in the Faculty of Science at the University of Sheffield get:

  • the offer of an academic position after their Fellowship
  • a PhD student to kick-start their research portfolio

Learn more and apply

Postgraduate Masters Courses (MSc)

Our one-year MSc courses in Antimicrobial Resistance, Human and Molecular Genetics, and Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, are designed to meet the growing demand for skilled, multi-disciplinary bioscientists to take on roles in academia, industry and healthcare.

  • a range of Postgraduate Masters courses with strong links to our research areas are available. 

Learn more and apply