Department of Molecular and Cell Biology

Cell Proliferation and Differentiation

The mechanisms by which cells decide whether to undergo proliferation or differentiation are highly complex and under tight regulation. These processes are crucial for embryonic growth and development, as well as for the maintenance and repair of adult tissues. Moreover, defects in their control or progression are associated with numerous diseases.

The Department has a large focus on understanding the mechanisms regulating cell proliferation, differentiation and survival. A major aim is to determine how defects in these processes lead to conditions such as cancer, degenerative disorders and aging, with a view to identifying targets for therapeutic intervention.

The research in this area is underpinned by the use of advanced cell culture systems, high resolution imaging, animal models, and proteomics.

Much of this work is undertaken through multidisciplinary collaborations with other members of the department, as well as with clinicians and scientists from other academic disciplines, and contributes to the strategies of both the Institute for Precision Health and the Leicester Institute of Chemical and Structural Biology.

Research groups

There are ten research groups working in the area of cell proliferation and differentiation. Their research is supported through funding from the BBSRC, MRC, CRUK and a number of disease-specific charities and industrial partners. 

  • Shaun Cowley – Stem cell biology
  • Martin Dyer – Therapeutic strategies for B-cell malignancies
  • Andrew Fry – Cytoskeleton and cell division mechanisms
  • Salvador Macip – Cell senescence and differentiation
  • Robert Mahen - Centrosome function in cell division and cilia
  • Raj Patel – Cell cycle control and mitosis
  • Sally Prigent – Oncogenic cell proliferation mechanisms
  • Sue Shackleton– Cytoskeleton and muscle development
  • Kayoko Tanaka – Cytoskeleton, cell signalling and meiosis

Achievement highlights

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