Close up of a gloved hand and some petri dishes

Life sciences and healthcare research that benefits society

REF 2021 assessed 90% of our research as internationally excellent or world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour

At the Institute of Life Sciences and Healthcare (ILSH), we discover, understand and develop knowledge of health and disease in order to achieve real-world impact.

Our culture is collaborative and our cross-disciplinary work aligns University's research themes of ‘Health and Wellbeing’ and ‘Future and Emerging Technologies’. Most importantly, it responds to the needs of society.

Through the discoveries we're making at ILSH, many in partnership with healthcare and industry, we're turning our research into real-world impact.

Research

Our research in the Institute of Life Sciences and Healthcare covers the following research areas of expertise:

Molecular mechanisms of diseases

We're exploring the molecules and molecular processes that cause diseases, and working to develop better treatments.

Molecular structure model
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Biophysics and Molecular Genetics Research Group

We're studying biomolecules such as DNA, RNA and proteins to allow us to tackle issues such as disease, pollution and energy.

Enzyme structure, courtesy of Centre for Enzyme Innovation, Portsmouth
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Clinical Microbiology

We're researching how microbes can cause infectious diseases and benefit human health, and tackling antibiotic resistance by identifying new molecules in pathogenic microbes.

Microbiome rendering
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Pharmacy Practice

We're working to improve the practices, selection, use and disposal of pharmaceuticals to protect the environment, and we're promoting the vital role pharmacists can play in delivering better care to patients.

Close up of nursing student handling pharmaceuticals
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Dental public health

We undertake research relating to promoting health, preventing disease and how to facilitate access to high quality dental care for all.

Dental public health
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Nanomaterials for Drug and Gene Delivery

We're helping to create targeted, safe and effective medicines to positively impact patients' lives.

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Neurobiology

We're looking at the architecture and function of the nervous system – and how it relates to development, normal health, and neurological disorders.

MRI scan, close-up
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Research highlights

Our research highlights include how we're seeking to better understand the underlying mechanisms of heath and disease.

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

Research projects

Our work is making a difference. Many of our projects were ranked as internationally excellent or world-leading as Impact Case Studies for REF 2021, the UK Government's system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. Some of our projects include:

  • 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 Portsmouth-Brawijaya Centre For Global Health, Population And Policy – helping to improve the health and well-being of people globally through research, teaching and training

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.

  • A novel method for the screening and sensing of biomarkers and new drugs
  • Biochips for disease diagnosis
  • Can precise re-creations of disease gene variants be made in Xenopus that are useful to inform clinical interventions?
  • Centre for Enzyme Innovation
  • Development of Imaging Capability to Evaluate Abrasion, Biofilm and Stain Removal from Dentures
  • Elucidating The Biological Role Of i-Motif DNA Structures In Vertebrate Genomes
  • Engineering mesoscopic-deep Raman spectrometer for whole-organ depth-encoded chemical analysis
  • Exploring the challenges facing Portsmouth residents: a community-based research study
  • P2X7 Antagonists
  • STOP COVID-19: Sequencing and Tracking Of Phylogeny in COVID-19
  • Towards non-invasive localized thermal cancer therapy: Evaluating light to hear converting gold nano-assemblies

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 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 2013 and 2020, we secured research income of £14.7 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; Leverhulme Trust; Rosetrees Trust) and industry.

Centres

Explore the work our research centres are doing in this area, and learn more about our recent projects, the academic and industrial partners we're collaborating with, and who our major funders are.

European Xenopus Resource Centre (EXRC)

Discover the world’s largest Xenopus research facility and access different Xenopus specific resources, including antibodies, wild-type strains, DNA resources and egg extracts.

Marine research tanks
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Centre for Enzyme Innovation

At the Centre for Enzyme Innovation, we are working to solve one of the most pressing environmental issues facing our planet.

 

petri dish from centre for enzyme research
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Centre for Simulation in Health and Care

Learn practical healthcare skills and apply your anatomical and physiological knowledge in a safe, contextual space using current clinical equipment.

Student nurses treating patient
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Events and seminars

The Institute of Life Sciences and Healthcare supports seminars across a variety of our schools, providing a vibrant research environment for staff and students.

Our seminars cover a wide range of subjects where you'll have the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of current research trends in the life sciences and healthcare industry, and build connections with experts in the field.

For example, the Colyn Crane Robinson (CCR) Seminar Series is a monthly event with external speakers who discuss a wide range of research topics across the institute. 

For more details about upcoming seminars, contact our ILSH Administrator.

Facilities

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. Our facilities are spread across the following schools:

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).

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)
  • Nanopore sequencing facility (MionION, GridION, PromethION)
  • Bioinformatics high performance computing cluster 
  • Large flexible clinical simulation facilities, including realistic operating theatre, CAE and Laerdal human patient simulators, and clinical skills simulation suite
  • Dental training facilities, including 'phantom head' units and dental training simulators incorporating virtual/mixed reality and haptics

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.

Discover our Biophysical Laboratory

News, blogs and podcasts

Find our more about our latest research successes, read blogs by our academics and listen to the latest ideas and discoveries that look set to change our lives in our Life Solved podcast.

Improving Health and Wellbeing Blog

Our health and wellbeing researchers write about the importance and impact of self-care, sport and exercise, mental wellbeing, diseases and medical advancements.

Person using an exercise bike with ECG monitoring
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Contact us

To get in touch, please contact the Institute of Life Sciences and Healthcare Administrator.

+44 (0)23 9284 2994

sci.fac@port.ac.uk