A pair of hands pouring solution into Petri dishes

Improving the environment and society 

REF 2014 assessed 100% of our biological and biomedical research  as outstanding or very considerable

At the Institute of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (IBBS), we cross disciplinary boundaries, to discover, understand and develop knowledge for the benefit of the environment and humankind.

Our culture is collaborative and our multidisciplinary work aligns with all 5 of the University's research themes. Most importantly, it responds to the needs of society.

Through the discoveries we're making at IBBS, many in partnership with healthcare and industry, we're turning our research into real-world impact. In the most-recent REF 2014 report, 85% of IBBS research was rated 'world-leading' or 'internationally competitive.' In terms of impact, 100% was assessed as 'outstanding' or 'very considerable'.

Research

Our research in the Institute of Biological and Biomedical Sciences covers the following areas of expertise:

Research highlights

Our research highlights include how we're seeking to better understand the underlying mechanisms of heath and disease, and exploring ways to reduce environmental impact and protect natural resources.

Healthcare research highlights

  • An improved understanding of the human body in health and disease, informing research and clinical practice, drug discovery and providing the basis for research-informed teaching
  • New drugs and new methods for delivering drugs more easily or more safely for improved treatment of common or impactful diseases, such as brain tumours or stroke  
  • New methods to diagnose disease towards cheap, accurate and non-invasive tools for healthcare practitioners
  • Bioengineering solutions for improved integration of implants
  • New methods to treat infection-causing pathogens for combating antimicrobial resistance
  • Platforms to characterise the interactions of molecules relevant to drug screening

Environmental science research highlights

  • Enzymes capable of degrading waste – including plastics and plant waste – in order to reduce our environmental impact 
  • Materials resistance to biofilm formation, relevant to improved catheters, improved dental health and minimising the environmental impact of antibiofouling chemicals
  • The marine environment, through reintroduction of the native oyster; improving water quality and biodiversity
  • An understanding of biodiversity towards improving crop yields

Research projects

Our work is making a difference. The following projects are shortlisted for inclusion as Impact Case Studies for REF2021, the UK Government's system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

  • Microporous materials for environmental and drug delivery
  • 3Rs for Xenopus - Sperm freezing to reduce the use of animals in research
  • Modern Innovative Solutions Improving Outcomes in Asthma, Breathlessness and COPD
  • Developing endoscopy methods and training to improve patient outcomes

The future impact of our research

In addition to the above projects that have well-developed impact, there are a large number of projects whose discoveries are currently being translated.

  • Antibacterial Screening
  • Biochips for disease diagnosis
  • Biomarkers for diseases of the urinary tract
  • Novel biomaterials
  • Novel methods for drug delivery
  • P2X7 Antagonists
  • Compatibility and Stability of IV infused medicines
  • A novel method for the screening and sensing of biomarkers and new drugs

For more information about our work, contact Guy Hembury, Deputy Director (Commercialisation and External Partnerships) in our Research & Innovation Services department.

Partnerships and funding

We have partnerships with organisations such as Brain Tumour Research, Mary Rose Trust and Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust.

We also have global partners including Nihon University in Japan, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the USA, and the Nencki Institute in Poland.

We work collaboratively to address needs in society – our partnership with Portsmouth Hospital NHS Trust has led to the education of clinicians, placements for our students, research papers and funding, and benefited the NHS, patients and the economy.

Between 2015 and 2019, we secured research income of £8.2 million, averaging around £2 million per year. Our funders include UK Research and Innovation (Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC); Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC); Medical Research Council (MRC); Wellcome Trust), large charities (Brain Tumour Research; Rosetrees Trust) and industry.

Facilities

Spread across 3 sites, our extensive facilities and equipment are key to delivering collaborative and contract research with our partners spanning healthcare and industry, and academic researchers from across the globe.

We use biochemical, biophysical and molecular biological techniques to investigate both structural and functional aspects of macromolecular interactions.

We also have facilities for bacterial growth and protein purification, confocal microscopes, atomic force microscopes, and electron microscopes.

We have access to facilities for Synchrotron Radiation at the Diamond Light Source (Harwell) and ESRF (Grenoble), Neutron Scattering facilities at Institut Laue-Langevin (Grenoble) and protein expression facilities at OPPF (Harwell).

IBBS hosts a large glasshouse facility for teaching and research. The main facility has four areas within a single glasshouse, each independently controlled for temperature and day length, with one set to tropical conditions. Additionally two exterior glasshouses are available. Automatic watering, continual temperature logging, bench space and a large drying oven are also available.

Facilities include:

  • X-ray Diffractometer with Cryojet (Oxford Diffraction / Agilent)
  • Cartesian crystallisation robot
  • 600MHz NMR spectrometer with cryo-probe (Varian / Agilent)
  • Analytical Ultracentrifugation (Beckman XL-A)
  • Surface Plasmon Resonance (BiaCoreT200)
  • Circular Dichroism and Fluorescence Spectroscopy
  • Laser Light Scattering (both DLS and MALLS)
  • Calorimetry (ITC and DSC)

Equipment

We also have access to equipment and facilities for surface science, microscopy, pharmaceutics, pharmacology, and biomedical science. 

  • Buchii B-290 Spray Drier
  • Tabletting Machine
  • Particle Sizer
  • Dynamic Vapour Sorption (DVS) Apparatus
  • Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometer (GCMS)
  • High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC)
  • Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS) / Atomic Emission Spectrometer (AES)
  • Tissue Culturing
  • Flow Cytometer
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) Spectrometer
  • Fourier-transform Infra-red (FTIR) Spectrometer (Research) / Raman Spectrometer
  • Fourier-transform Infra-red (FTIR) Spectrometer (Teaching)
  • Ultraviolet Spectrometer
  • Contact Angle Goniometer
  • Texture Analyser
  • Digital Instruments/Veeco - MultiMode Nanoscope IV Atomic Force Microscope, encompassing TappingMode/Contact Mode; Force Spectroscopy, Chemical Force Microscopy (CFM), Magnetic Force Microscopy (MFM), Scanning Tunnelling Microscopy (STM).
  • Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM) Carl Zeiss LSM 710. Imager.Z2. Lasers: 405 nm, 453 nm, 458 nm, 488 nm, 514 nm, 633 nm.
  • Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy (CLSM) Carl Zeiss LSM 510. AxioPlan 2 with AxioCam HRc camera. Lasers: 488 nm, 543 nm, 633 nm.
  • Calcium Imaging Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy -Carl Zeiss Axioskop 2 with LSM 5 Pascal Exciter
  • Live Cell Imaging -Carl Zeiss Axiovert 200M (inverted) with incubator (temp, humidity and CO2 control); brightfield, phase, DIC and fluorescence; optigrid; 5x - 100x objectives; Volocity 5.2 software (Improvision).
  • Total Internal Reflectance Microscopy (TIRF) - Carl Zeiss Axiovert 200M (inverted) with laser (488 nm); brightfield, phase, DIC and fluorescence; microinjection; 5x - 100x objectives; AxioVision 4.7.1 software (Carl Zeiss).
  • Laser Capture Micro Dissection (LCMD) - Arcturus Varitas Microdissection Instrument (Model 704: IR capture laser and UV cutting laser with epi-fluorescence) for removing individual cells or multi-cellular structures tissue sections.

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