Physical Biochemistry

Head of Division - Dr Justin Molloy

Just as a human being is made up of billions of interacting cells, each individual cell consists of billions of interacting molecules. Our aim is to understand biological processes at the level of individual molecular interactions. Biological systems consist of large molecules like proteins and DNA and also small molecules that act as substrates and signals to drive and control the cellular processes. The activity of healthy and diseased cells is determined by complex interactions between these different molecules. Some molecules can cause illness whereas others (e.g. therapeutic drugs) can cure. We study molecules in isolation so that we can understand the basic mechanisms of disease and normal function.

We apply a battery of modern biochemical and biophysical techniques including state-of-the-art studies at the level of single molecules. The two main research themes are cell motility and cell signalling. We want to understand the mechanism of muscle contraction in normal and diseased hearts, how DNA is copied and repaired, how cell signalling molecules work and how their pathways might be repaired if they fail. Our work is highly collaborative with other NIMR divisions because we want the detailed molecular information we obtain to contribute to a cellular understanding of human health.

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