This submission comprised staff from the Schools of Biological Sciences, Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, Health and Care Professions, and the Dental Academy. Our Unit’s research is characterised by its multilevel approach to addressing important biological and medical questions, from lab bench to patient bedside.
Over the REF period, we expanded into new research areas including bioinformatics, developmental diseases, care professions and orthopaedic medicine. We also enhanced the scope of our interdisciplinary research to address global issues, for example, using protein engineering approaches to address environmental polluting plastics.
The vitality of the Unit is underscored by the 68% increase in the number of staff members returned, 17% of whom were new early career researcher appointments, a 60% increase in external funding secured and a 38% increase in PhD completions, compared with the previous REF period.
Results in REF 2021
- 90% of our overall research quality was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
- 87.2% of our research outputs were rated as world-leading or internationally excellent in terms of originality, significance and rigour.
- 100% of our impact case studies were rated as very considerable in terms of their reach and significance.
- 87.5% of our research environment was rated as conducive to producing research of world-leading or internationally excellent quality and enabling outstanding or very considerable impact, in terms of its vitality and sustainability.
Our research is enabled through four research groups:
Molecular Biophysics focuses on the study of biological processes in terms of the structure and function of biomolecules and their interactions. Notable achievements include the structure determination of lignin- and plastic-degrading enzymes, the structural and molecular regulatory mechanisms of ribonucleases relevant to bacterial resistance and screening technology to develop novel antibacterial compounds
Genetic Basis of Disease investigates the roles of genes in early development and the onset or progression of diseases. Their research has included the identification of mitochondrial genetic mutations in cancers, a gene variant contributing to neurodevelopmental disorders and the development of gene-editing technology to investigate rare genetic diseases.
Biomaterials and Drug Delivery focuses on the design, synthesis and medical applications of biomaterials, biosensors, drugs and drug delivery systems. The group has developed nano-carriers for targeted delivery of biopharmaceuticals, hydrogels for drug delivery and tissue engineering, and implants for orthopaedic medicine.
Ageing and Lifelong Health investigates the health and disease of various organ systems, and the development of therapies or management programmes for associated medical conditions. Our research has identified molecular mechanisms underpinning brain disorders, developed novel endoscopic methods for early detection of intestinal cancers, underpinned a new community treatment programme for patients suffering from chronic respiratory diseases, and identified molecular urine markers to enhance the diagnosis of bladder disorders in the aged.
Impact case studies
The impacts of our research ranged from enhancing biomedical research capacity and transforming research ethics to improving patient care.
Collaborations and partnerships
More than 77% of our publications in this assessment period were with international or national co-authors. Staff in our Unit collaborated with researchers in more than 50 countries in Asia, Europe and the Americas.
We invested more than £5 million towards the Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Sciences' world-class research facilities to further develop strategically important areas such as enzyme innovation, bioresources, advanced microscopy and bioinformatics.