centre for biomedical science research

The Centre for Biomedical Science Research (CBSR) brings together a diverse group of biomedical researchers working in areas relating to human disease and wellbeing.
Image of a female in the lab
Cells under a microscope - blue

Our aim is to carry out high-quality and rigorous research that results in significant new knowledge to each relevant discipline. In addition to fundamental and basic science, we carry out applied research, with the aim of contributing to finding solutions to some of the key issues currently facing humankind.

Expertise within the group covers a broad range of disciplines including:

  • Molecular biology
  • Cell biology
  • Yeast genetics and fungal biology
  • Biochemistry and biophysics
  • Electrochemistry
  • Nanotechnology
  • Virology
  • Microbiology and antimicrobials
  • DNA repair
  • Platelet biology
  • Neurodegenerative diseases and cell signalling

  1. Global collaboration and impact

    Our principal investigators have well-established successful collaborations with excellent research groups based in Brazil, China, India, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the USA, in addition to many UK-based collaborations. In recent years members of the CBSR have published their work in leading scientific journals such as Cell, PNAS, Plant Cell, Nature Protocols, JACS, JBC, NAR PLOS Pathogens, PLOS Computational Biology, PLOS Genetics, Genome Research, Biosensors and Bioelectronics, amongst others.

Biology Week spotlight

  1. "My research involves investigating the pathways bacteria use to become resistant to antibiotics. The more we know about the development of resistance, the more able we will be to fight it"

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    Dr Donna Johnson | Course Director in Biomedical Sciences
  2. "My research looks to understand how insulin resistance develops across cell types following high-fat diet. This is important to better understand obesity and type 2 diabetes so we can find new avenues for treatment."

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    Dr Jess Haigh | Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science
  3. "My laboratory investigates the role of ribonucleic acid (RNA) in human disease, Recently, we have sought to understand how RNA in extracellular vesicles that are released from cancer cells might be exploited for cancer diagnostics."

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    Professor Jim Boyne | Professor in Biomedical Science
  4. "My research involves building computational models of bacterial biochemistry. These can be used as a guide for drug discovery. One model has been used successfully to identify two new antimicrobial agents which are currently in pre-clinical development."

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    Dr John George | Reader in Biomedical Science
  5. "I'm a LGBT scientist who specialises in the early stages of virus infection and how virus manipulates the immune system. We aim to use existing drugs to develop treatments to severe disease like virally-derived swelling of the brain (encephalitis). Previously I have researched parasites and pathogenic disease including cancer, sleeping sickness, and viral neurological disease."

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    Cameron Stockwell | PhD Student in Biomedical Science

  6. "One aspect of my research looks at the cytotoxic properties of nanoparticles and their anti-cancer potential. I look for ways to target nanoparticles towards cancer cells and test if this kills them. This could potentially be used to improve cancer treatment."

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    Dr Andrew Paterson | Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science
  7. "My research investigates the role of infection and inflammation in reproductive health, pregnancy and fertility, plus the impact of contraception on female health and wellbeing. I love applying innovative experiments to discover exciting new knowledge and share this with the scientific community."

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    Dr Rochelle Hockney | Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Science
  8. "My masters provided me with advanced laboratory-based skills and confidence in my ability. The work I do now is essential to ensure that drug therapies and treatments are working to the correct potency and ensuring their health and safety. Each day is different, with assays to perform, reagents to prepare and data to analyse. being able to support the constant improvement of these treatments through my work is something I love about my job and makes it so rewarding."

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    Leah Fox | QC Analyst for Pharmaceutical Company (Recent MSc Medical Microbiology graduate from Leeds Beckett University)

  9. "My research looks at how platelets, small blood cells that circulate in the blood, that normally help with wound healing can be activated when they should not be. This 'inappropriate' activation can lead to heart attacks and strokes when blood clots block up our blood vessels. Additionally, if someone has cancer, platelets treat the cancer as if it were a wound. This means platelets stick to the tumour and release growth-causing chemicals, resulting in further cancer growth.

    My group aims to examine how platelet inhibiting chemicals can be used to 'switch off' platelets to see if this can lessen the likelihood of clot formation and stop platelet-induced cancer growth."

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    Dr Wayne Roberts | Course Director in Biomedical Science
Donna Johnson
Jess Haigh
Professor Jim Boyne
Dr John George
Biomedical Science PhD student, Cameron Stockwell
Dr Andrew Paterson
Dr Rochelle Hockney
Leah Fox
Dr Wayne Roberts

Research projects

Researcher: John George

The outer surface of gram-negative bacterial cells is made up of lipopolysaccharide (LPS). The synthesis of this essential molecule has to be tightly controlled and modulated in response to changing environmental conditions. Importantly, the LPS layer is known to protect the bacterial cell from physical or chemical attack, including antibiotic treatment. This study uses computational network analysis alongside traditional biochemistry to probe the regulatory mechanisms which operate during the synthesis of the bacterial cell envelope. Our work produced new insights into the ways that bacteria are able to synchronise the key elements involved in envelope biogenesis. Additionally, this work has highlighted potential antibiotic targets which could help in the fight against the antimicrobial resistance crisis.

Ecolli cells under a microscope

Researcher(s): Dr Wayne Roberts

Platelet blood cells become activated in patients with atherosclerosis, resulting in platelet-microparticle (PMP) formation. PMPs are small membrane structures containing a range of bioactive molecules. The critical event driving heart attacks in patients with atherosclerosis is rupture of atherosclerotic plaques, causing clot formation in major blood vessels. PMPs have been proposed to contribute towards plaque rupture through inducing angiogenesis (forming leaky blood vessels through the plaque) however the underlying mechanisms were unknown. In this article we demonstrated that PMPs deliver the micro-RNA (small non-coding RNAs that control gene expression) Let-7a to endothelial cells (the cell type lining blood vessels) inducing angiogenesis. Through a range of molecular biology techniques, we demonstrated that Let-7a switched off the ability of endothelial cells to produce the anti-angiogenic protein thrombospondin-1 (THBS-1), resulting in angiogenesis. This study describes a new molecular mechanism by which PMPs induce tubule formation, opening up potential therapeutic avenues for treating cardiovascular disease.

Researcher(s): Professor Gary Jones

Hsp70 is a protein found in all living organisms. It carries out a variety of essential functions in cells including helping other proteins to fold into their correct functional three-dimensional structures. When proteins do not fold correctly this can result in a variety of human diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Prion diseases and cancer. This Scientific Reports article utilises a well-characterised yeast model to investigate the regulation of Hsp70 through a process called post-translational modification. It identifies key residues, that are conserved in human Hsp70 proteins, that are modified in vivo and modify Hsp70 function. This work identified new residue in this protein that undergo acetylation and provide a proof-of-principle that Hsp70 function can be manipulated through targeting of proteins that directly modify Hsp70, rather than targeting this essential protein directly. This opens up new potential avenues for Hsp70-targeted therapeutics. The importance of this work was highlighted by Faculty 1000 Prime.

Researcher(s): Dr Andrew Paterson, Dr Nat Milton, Dr Margarita Gomez Escalada

Formyl peptide receptors (FPRs) have a long-established signalling role in the immune system. They are also known to be present in the central nervous system where their role(s) are not yet fully understood. In this article published in PLoS One three cell lines of neural origin were studied to determine the impact of small molecule FPR ligands on neuronal differentiation and morphology. Novel differentiated morphological forms of the cells were identified following treatment with FPRa14, and actions via FPRs were confirmed using both pharmacological and siRNA knockdown interventions. This discovery will allow development of novel methods to produce cellular models of neurodegenerative diseases. The development of treatments for a range of neurological conditions including neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, neurological cancers and neuropathic pain, as well as the field of neural regeneration could all benefit from the use of small molecule ligands to target neuronal FPRs.

Blue DNA strands

phd and researcher opportunities

If you’re interested in possibly pursuing a PhD within the CBSR or are looking for sponsorship for a personal scholarship or research fellowship, we are always looking for potential proposals. Get in touch with the academic staff member who you may want to work with to discuss your idea or check our funded opportunities. 

state-of-the-art facilities

Leeds Beckett University has invested close to £1m in new resources for biomedical science research. This includes a newly refurbished biomedical research laboratory, which is stocked with state-of-the-art biochemical and cell biology equipment.

Our facilities include: hi-tech AKTA protein purifier, Seahorse Metabolic Analyser, FACS, RT-PCR, microbial fermenter, Nanosight particle analyser, advanced plate-readers, amongst other available resources. Our biomedical laboratory facilities allow us to carry out advanced microbiology, biochemistry and cell biology research that can produce high-impact publications.

contact professor  gary jones