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Cells, Genes and Molecules

We investigate the fundamental cellular, genetic, and molecular mechanisms of life, in health and disease.

We are a group of bioscientists investigating life at the cellular, genetic, epigenetic, and molecular levels in both health and disease. Our multi-disciplinary approach encompasses fundamental, applied, and translational research. Focus areas include:

  • Cell division
  • Cell signalling
  • Chromosomes and genome instability
  • Gene expression, epigenetics, chromatin
  • RNA biology and protein translation
  • Technology and drug development

Our research has a wide impact in understanding disease and developing new diagnostic and therapeutic avenues. This includes informing our understanding of infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses and fungi.

We encourage translation of our fundamental research towards application in healthcare and biotechnology. We have research strengths in:

  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Microbiology
  • Reproductive biology

Research Impact

Technology developed by theme researchers forms the basis for spin-out companies such as 3DBT, Atelerix, FibroFind, GlycoScoreMarraBio and AMLo Biosciences.

Cancer is one of our focus areas. Many of our members are part of the Newcastle Centre for Cancer. This centre of excellence brings together all cancer researchers and clinicians in Newcastle. This multidisciplinary approach accelerates new discoveries and therapies.

Our researchers have discovered genetic abnormalities that improve diagnosis of leukaemia. This has led to changes in the therapy given to patients. We have identified kinases that control cell division. We have developed inhibitors of cell cycle kinases that serve as leads for drug development. We participated in the development of the PARP inhibitor drug Rubraca. This has now been licenced for the treatment of ovarian cancer. We have uncovered novel cancer signalling pathways and mechanisms of resistance to cancer treatments that will spur the development of new therapeutic approaches.

We conduct leading research in meiosis. Newcastle is one of the few UK centres with access to human oocytes for research purposes.  This has facilitated the introduction of oocyte manipulation as a mitochondrial disease therapy. Moving this innovation into the clinic required changes to UK fertility legislation. Theme member Mary Herbert played a significant role in changing these laws.

We have identified genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that contribute to the pathophysiology of musculoskeletal diseases including osteoarthritis and used epigenomic approaches to identify novel therapeutic targets for pharmacological intervention.

Researchers in the theme hold programme, project and personal awards from major funders. These include Wellcome, BBSRC, MRC, Horizon2020, Cancer Research UK, Prostate Cancer UK, Blood Cancer UK, the Lister Institute, and the CF Trust. We provide a dynamic and supportive environment for career development at all stages. We are particularly proud of our early career fellows. They hold Career Development Awards from the MRC, Cancer Research UK, Wellcome, and Versus Arthritis.

We aim to communicate the importance of our work to other scientists and to the public. We work with local schools through the 'Leading Edge' project and host students on work experience. We have taken part in the 'Cell Detectives' and 'Genetics Matters' events organised by our core facilities. These fun and engaging sessions allow us to introduce cell and molecular biology to non-scientists.

Research areas 

Research Culture

We supervise approximately 70 PhD students within our theme. We provide research-led teaching in cell and molecular biology at all levels, including the MRes modules 'Chromosome Biology and Cell Cycle Control in Health and Disease', ‘Therapeutic Applications of Cell Signalling Pathways’, ‘Genetics of Common Disease’ and ‘Biomolecular Research in Health and Disease’.

The majority of our undergraduate teaching is on courses in the School of Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Science.

We provide a dynamic and supportive environment for career development at all stages. We organise mentorship and personalised career advice including for fellowship applications.

We promote the values of EDI in everything we do.

Deputy Theme LeadsDavid Elliott and Sarah Rice.

EDI Leads: Emma ScottRachel Queen and Brian Ortmann.