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Achievements and strengths

The Department was formed in 2009 from a merger of the long-established Schools of Biological and Chemical Sciences and Crystallography and is led by Dr Katherine Thompson.

Research and teaching in the department are part of a wider programme through our membership of the Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology (ISMB), a joint research institute between Birkbeck and University College London (UCL). The multi-disciplinary and international work of the ISMB supports world-leading research in the study of structural, cell and chemical biology, in particular to reveal the molecular basis of protein function. Our researchers work on important problems related to infectious diseases, developmental and neurogenerative diseases and cancer, and this environment provides a valuable context for our students.

We're proud of the fact we've achieved an Athena SWAN Silver Award in recognition of our commitment to gender equality. We have an active programme aimed at developing greater diversity and equality for staff and students across the department.

Each year the department takes part in the School's Science Week and supports the Bernal Lecture and the Rosalind Franklin Lecture.

Our flexible courses meet your study needs

  • We offer courses at all levels, from certificates to PhD study. You can choose from biomedicine, analytical chemistry, bioinformatics, microbiology and structural biology, among other subjects. Several of our courses are also available to study through distance learning.

our academics conduct research with international impact

  • Our academic staff, experts across the field of biological sciences, are involved in research projects which include: investigations into nanomachines, understanding the role of chaperone proteins, cell processes and interactions, and the part played by genome sequencing in drug development. Many of these projects make use of structural biology techniques and the department has a long history of achievements in this field. We conduct world-class research and in the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF), in a joint submission with UCL, Biological Sciences at Birkbeck were ranked 11th in the UK, with a research environment supporting world-leading and internationally excellent research.

Business Services

  • There are many opportunities for businesses to benefit from our Department's expertise for consultancy projects and our teaching labs for hire. If you would like to discuss any of these business opportunities please contact the Assistant School Manager for Research, . We have been awarded Cooperative Awards in Science and Engineering (CASE) studentships in the past by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) - more about current BBSRC funding. These awards are doctoral studentships which provide research training and joint supervision between academic institutions and a co-operating company, allowing students to experience different research environments.

London Structural Biology Club

  • The London Structural Biology Club (LSBC - Facebook group) brings together researchers and students from a number of biological sciences faculties and research centres across London, including Birkbeck, UCL, Imperial College, King's College, Queen Mary and The Francis Crick Institute. Members come from a variety of disciplines interested in the general field of structural biology. Meetings are usually held three times a year and feature talks by eminent researchers in the field, followed by a networking session with refreshments. All meetings are free to attend.
  • Dr Benjamin Stieglitz, Queen Mary, University of London, is Chair of the club.
  • The most recent virtual meeting was on December 15 2020 and featured the following speakers and topics:
    • Dr Val Pye, Francis Crick Institute: CryoEM structure of SERINC, an integral membrane protein that impedes HIV infection.
    • Dr Lasse Stach, GlaxoSmithKline: Therapeutic antibody discovery against complement component C7 aided by structural information.
    • Dr Mark van Breugel, Queen Mary University of London: The CEP164-TTBK2 complex in health and in disease.
    • Dr Claudio Alfieri, Institute of Cancer Research: Molecular snapshots of cell cycle control by cryo-electron microscopy.