Biochemistry research at Bristol is driven by a commitment to fundamental studies of the molecular processes that underlie life itself. We believe studies of the intricate networks of biomolecules that become organised within cells to form a living organism are not just intrinsically fascinating, but are also essential to fully understand health, disease and effective therapeutics.
The Bristol flavour of biochemistry places particular emphasis both on discovering novel biological molecular processes and their quantitative analysis, such that these systems can be harnessed and modified in a predictive manner.
A common theme throughout our research is that research questions are best addressed using multiple techniques applied across multiple dimensions, including both space (biomolecular and cellular dimensions) and time (molecular and cellular timescales). Using this unified approach, our extensive portfolio of interests has currently coalesced within these broad areas:
The cell is the fundamental unit of life in which biomolecules are organised. Many of our studies within this large area aim to understand mechanisms of protein trafficking and regulation of dynamic complexes, within and between cells and at membranes, including the role of the extracellular matrix and actin cytoskeleton.
Molecular events at and within cell membranes. Our focus on these hotspots for cellular function ranges from fundamental chemical studies of how proteins are inserted into and across membranes, through to highly specific studies of crucial membrane channels and their complexes.
Bristol biochemistry has a long history of fundamental enzymology research with a strong focus on quantitative understanding of catalytic mechanisms. With the development of new single-molecule, FRET, AFM and other approaches to biomolecular studies, this traditional strength has now evolved to provide a fresh approach to exploring and exploiting these key biomolecules, such as in synthetic biology applications.
Synthetic biology is an emerging, multidisciplinary field that aims to improve our understanding of biology through design and engineering; and to pave the way to engineering biological and biologically inspired systems predictably, reliably and responsibly. The hope and challenge is that, equipped with new knowledge and better computational and experimental tools, scientists will be able to design and engineer biological parts, devices and systems to tackle key issues facing humanity, including for example, the cost-effective production of new drugs, vaccines and drug-delivery systems. In addition, synthetic biology aims to lay the foundations for new application areas in biotechnology that we cannot imagine at present.
Read a brief history of the School of Biochemistry and how our research has developed over time.
Take a look at what past members of the School of Biochemistry are doing now.