The Institute's research is organised in four major research areas, each with a number of specialised and interactive 'Divisions'.

Genetics and Development

Genetics and Development

Concerns the fundamental molecular and cell biology underlying embryo development, for which Dr David Wilkinson has overall responsibility.

Much of the research of the Divisions in this Group concerns the molecular mechanisms of embryonic development. The formation of an adult organism involves precise temporal and spatial control of the differentiation, movement and division of cells by a network of intercellular signals, intracellular signal transducers and transcription factors.

To identify and dissect the roles of genes involved in these processes we use a variety of model systems (yeast, fruit fly, zebrafish, frog, chick and mouse), and genetic and transgenic technologies.

Infections and Immunity

Infections and Immunity

Looks at the molecular and ultrastructural basis of pathogenesis and cellular immunological responses. Joint Heads: Jonathan Stoye and Victor Tybulewicz.

The objectives of research within Infections and Immunity are to:

  • define processes involved in the development of the immune system and in the specific activation of immune cells
  • to describe molecular mechanisms of infection by intracellular bacteria, parasites, and viruses, particularly those required in the initial stages of cell invasion
  • to combine knowledge in these areas to understand the basis of the immunity which develops following infections and vaccination.


Analyses how the nervous system develops and how it functions, headed by Dr Vassilis Pachnis.

Research in Neurosciences investigates:

  • transcription factors and signaling mechanisms that maintain stem cells and control the differentiation of cells
  • mechanisms that regulate cell migration and the targeting of axons during development
  • the cellular and network mechanisms underlying sensory representation and cognition
  • the neural control and function of pituitary peptides
  • the genetic and nutritional networks that regulate the proliferation and death of cells and the growth of tissues
Structural Biology

Structural Biology

Concerned with relating the molecular architecture of biomolecules to their function, headed by Dr Justin Molloy.

Divisions within Structural Biology study the three dimensional structures and chemical reactions of a range of biologically active and medically important molecules. These include transmitters, hormones, intracellular messengers, molecular motors and molecules involved in the regulation of DNA and protein synthesis. The goal of the research is to determine structures of protein molecules and the interactions that confer specificity and activate their mechanisms. In these studies, biochemical and biophysical methods such as optical and mass spectrometry are allied to structural methods like NMR, X-ray crystallography and molecular modelling. Armed with this information, the mechanisms inside and outside the cell, through which biological processes are effected, can be analysed at the atomic and molecular levels.

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