We are addressing four Research Challenges of global significance through cross-disciplinary working in the life sciences, and strong links with the medical and physical sciences.
Understanding Life ¦ Disease Biology ¦ Biotechnology for Industry ¦ Sustainable Environments
There are hundreds of different types of cells in the human body, yet they are derived from a single cell, the fertilized egg. How does this single cell give rise to such a dazzling array of cell types? How does a system as complex as a cell function? How do different cell types collaborate and become organized into functional organs? How do these organs and cells cooperate to produce an organism that shows adaptive behaviour? How does our genome code for all of this functional complexity? How do cells communicate with each other and with their local environment?
To answer these questions, our researchers use a variety of model organisms and, together, our research covers the whole timeline of life, from fertilization to ageing. Insights from studying evolution, normal development and life processes are used to understand better the causes of disease, develop new therapeutics, and improve the ability of our bodies to repair and regenerate.
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Disease is defined as the incorrect functioning of a system of the body that results in a disruption of the normal homeostatic balance. It arises from infection, genetic or developmental dysfunction and is often exacerbated by poor nutrition and age. A consequence of disease will be damage to the host resulting in both acute and chronic health problems.
This research challenge encompasses both infectious disease caused by viruses, bacteria and parasites, and non-infectious conditions such as cancer, diabetes, vascular and obesity. The aims are to understand the processes that result in the onset and development of disease (for example, genomic changes), host and immune responses to disease, and to identify new therapeutic opportunities.
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Biotechnology for Industry
The Biotechnology for Industry challenge involves technology-driven research that addresses UK industry’s needs in applied biology. We are addressing agrochemical and biopharmaceutical production, and environmentally sustainable processes for transformation of plant biomass and other waste products into biofuels to replace fossil fuels. This research challenge addresses the Knowledge Based BioEconomy (KBBE) agenda that is central to the UK’s economic development.
FLS research teams collaborate with several Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology companies for cutting-edge research in areas crucial for development of new medicines and industrially important chemicals and materials, including generation and exploitation of new enzyme activities for making industrially important molecules.
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Finding ways to live sustainably and conserve our environment are urgent issues around the world. The food we eat, the water we drink and the fuel that powers our industries are all dwindling resources that we harvest from the world around us. As our populations expand and natural areas are converted to farmland and cities, we lose the services that nature provided for free.
From laboratories to rain forests, researchers in the Faculty of Life Sciences are working to find solutions. We have research programmes in biofuels, urban ecology, emerging diseases, biodiversity, water security, conservation biology and food security.
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