Molecular structure model

Molecular mechanisms of diseases

Explore our work in molecular mechanisms of diseases, one of our areas of expertise within Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Biomedical Sciences

Our research aims to uncover and understand the basic mechanisms of disease at the molecular level. By studying the fundamental processes underpinning diseases – down to the level of a single gene or protein – we can explore the normal molecular life processes keeping us healthy, and the mechanisms of a disease at the cell, tissue, organ and whole body levels.

Studies of molecular mechanisms led to many of the incredible advances in diagnosis and treatment of human diseases in recent decades, including the use of antibodies as personalised anti-cancer drugs (such as Herceptin), and gene therapy for correcting gene defects and cell modifications to fight cancer (for example CAR-T immunotherapy).

Much of our current research focuses on diseases for which there is either no cure, or a rising demand for new, more effective therapies, such as cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy.

We’re seeking answers to fundamental questions about the nature of disease, such as how do mutations cause disease? What molecular changes distinguish a healthy cell from a diseased cell? Which biomarkers can help us diagnose diseases early? And which signals transmitted between and inside cells affect their behaviour?

By better understanding the altered molecules behind a disease, our research is helping identify and develop novel therapeutic treatments which can block or reverse this specific molecular change without affecting a patient’s healthy processes.

Our research covers the following topics

  • Biomarkers
  • Bioinformatics
  • Cell biology
  • Epigenetics
  • Molecular diagnostics
  • Molecular medicine
  • Genetic medicine
  • Drug design and discovery
  • Molecular modelling
  • Alzheimer's
  • Cancer biology
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Muscle diseases
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Gastrointestinal diseases
  • Respiratory diseases
  • Urogenital disorders
  • Bone diseases
  • Tissue engineering
  • Translational research
  • Pharmacology
  • Preclinical testing
  • Ion channel biophysics

Funders and collaborations

We've received funding from major organisations and industry partners, including the Royal Society, the Stroke Association, the Brain Tumour Research consortium, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Our research is regularly featured in publications such as the Journal of Biological Chemistry and the Journal of Neuro-Oncology.

We frequently collaborate on research and knowledge-sharing projects with national and international academic, industry and healthcare partners – including Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, and University Hospital Southampton, the Nencki Institute, Warsaw, Poland, and Ockham Biotech, with whom we've worked on the development of inhaled heparin for lung disease.


We’re home to modern facilities that play an important role in our research, including our bioresources unit with transgenic and knockout models for pre-clinical and in vivo studies, cell and organ culture, gene modifications capability, microscopy suite with a range of instruments (confocal, X-ray to electron microscopy), imaging systems for molecular specimens, and real-time PCR machines for gene expression analyses.

We use a spectrum of molecular and biochemical methods and have access to omics (transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics) with on-site bioinformatics support.

Publication highlights

Discover our areas of expertise

Molecular mechanisms of diseases is one of five areas of expertise in the Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Biomedical Sciences research area. Explore the others here.


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Interested in a PhD in Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Biomedical Sciences?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Biomedical Sciences postgraduate research degrees page.