Research in the Department of Life Sciences encompasses a broad spectrum of interests, ranging from the investigation of ecosystems through organismal research the study of cellular and molecular systems. Broadly speaking our research fall into two strands, Biomedical and Environmental.
Within Biomedical Sciences, we have research groups working in several whole organism models as well as primary cell models, particularly with primary neuronal and glial cell types. We can offer microscopy systems (EM, confocal and time-lapse) integrated with advanced image analysis and 3D reconstruction software. Model experimental systems are established for the study of neuronal structure and development, biochemical and electrophysiological aspects of learning and memory, cellular immunology and cell migration, organismal and cellular ageing and genetic instability. These models range from mammalian systems to the fruit fly Drosophila and yeast. The close association between organ and cell culture, microscopy and analytical facilities (genomic, genetic, immunological and biochemical) supports interdisciplinary research strategies, allowing parallel investigations from whole organism to the molecular level. New researchers are working in tissue engineering and developmental biology and we have recently been joined by a group of cognitive psychologists.
We have a close working relationship with colleagues in the Department of Chemistry and Analytical Science (particularly, but not exclusively, in the area of biological chemistry) and Physics and Astronomy (MEG scanning in autism research and biological physics). These relationships were reflected in the University's inter-departmental RAE submission to UoA14 (Biological Sciences). Our environmental and evolutionary groups share interests with members of the Department of Earth and Environmental Science.
The department has extensive and very well-equipped laboratories. We have recently benefited from a major SRIF-2 refurbishment and additional instruments. Re-equipment of the electron-microscope suite is planned as part of a SRIF-3 programme. In addition there is an active academic programme of seminars with external speakers, a weekly biomedicine journal club, regular research group meetings and presentations of research in progress.
Within the Faculty, our researchers interact and collaborate with colleagues in other departments, enabling pooling of resources, both intellectual and infrastructural.
Externally, we maintain very successful collaborations with other universities and institutes and with industry, both nationally and internationally. Through our regional centre in Cambridge, we have close links with the Cambridge Genetics Knowledge Park and the i10 network.
Our research is supported by a broad portfolio of income streams, comprising Research Council (BBSRC, MRC, NERC, ESRC), Governmental Agencies such as the Environment Agency, charities such as The Wellcome Trust, the MS Society and Research into Ageing, and international bodies, such as the European Union (for example the PROMEMORIA consortium).
Research Assessment Exercise
The department was graded 4 at the 2001 RAE. In the 2008 RAE, researchers in the department were submitted in UoA14 (Biological Sciences), and in UoA17 (Earth Systems). Both these submissions are inter-disciplinary.