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Our research

Our Department is internationally recognised for its research across a range of areas in the biological sciences, including bioinformatics, chemical biology and microbiology. However, the Department's main research focus, for which it is world renowned and in which it has a long and distinguished history, is in structural biology – the understanding of biological processes through study of the structure and dynamics of the macromolecular machines that make up the living cell.

The Department is at the core of the joint UCL/Birkbeck Institute of Structural and Molecular Biology (ISMB), a centre of excellence coordinating Birkbeck and UCL's research into the biomolecular mechanism and its exploitation for medicine and biotechnology. The ISMB has more than 70 associated Principal Investigators who bring an interdisciplinary approach to the investigation of fundamental biological processes using tools emerging from the physical and computational sciences. This diverse and coherent grouping of researchers, our shared research facilities in biophysics, computing, cryo-electron microscopy, crystallography, NMR and cellular and single molecule imaging provides a world-class environment in which to carry out research and for research training as part of our joint MRes and PhD programmes.

Rosalind Franklin Centenary videos and blog

Rosalind Franklin, biophysicist and x-ray crystallographer, is a celebrated Birkbeckian, whose scientific legacy runs through the School of Science: we've named a lab after her and established a lecture series in her honour.

To mark the 2020 centenary year (#Franklin100) celebrating her birth on 25 July 1920, PhDs from across the Department of Biological Sciences and the Genes Environment Lifespan (GEL) lab recorded short talks highlighting their research and links to her work.

Research networks, Groups and laboratories

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Our place in the world

We are located in the new London Knowledge Quarter, a small area centred on King's Cross that is home to over 100 institutions and businesses devoted to culture, research and technology. The Department benefits from this vibrant environment, which facilitates knowledge exchange and increases the impact of our work. We have joint academic staff with our neighbours the UCL Structural and Molecular Biology Department, and the Alan Turing and Francis Crick Institutes at King's Cross and many of our alumni are building their research careers in the area.
We have extensive national and international research collaborations, including long-term projects with the Francis Crick Institute, the Institute of Molecular Medicine (Lisbon) and Monash University (Melbourne). Staff from our Department have played leading roles in establishing the Electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC), the National Centre for Biological Cryo-electron Microscopy, and MOSBRI, the European Infrastructure for Molecular Scale Biophysics. We are home to global reference databases in protein circular dichroism and the genetics of adaptive immunity, OGRDB. We currently work with a range of industry partners including UCB, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Nikon, Malvern Panalytical, Affinimeter, Touchlight Genetics and English Heritage.

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