Our scientists are working to provide better understanding of how cellular communication systems control the behaviour of cells, tissues and organisms. The results of our research help to inform new therapeutic strategies for a wide range of diseases.

Our department has a long history of research and teaching excellence that has produced a Nobel laureate, six Fellows of the Royal Society and the consistently top ranked Physiology undergraduate programme in the UK. Our staff, of over 100 postdoctoral researchers and PhD students, and their international collaborative networks are engaged in research that generates systems-level understanding of disease-relevant biology.

Staff at the Department of Molecular Physiology and Cell Signalling

Our challenges

Genetic regulation

Gene expression is regulated by genome structure, chemical modifications (epigenetics) and interaction with different regulatory proteins. Disruption in gene expression control is often the main cause behind diseases. Using advanced molecular and cellular biology techniques along with cutting-edge genomics technologies, our scientists have made significant contributions towards understanding principles of gene expression regulation that underpins cellular behaviour and how this is affected by cellular environment such as hypoxia.

Protein biology and proteostasis

Proteostasis refers to the dynamic regulation of protein turnover and stability. It is influenced by post-translational modifications such as ubiquitylation and phosphorylation and is a critical determinant of protein availability and function. Our internationally recognised experts in ubiquitin biology and deubiquitylases are working closely with clinical and industry partners to develop novel therapeutic approaches relevant to cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.

The physiology of cell signalling

Understanding how organisms communicate, and what happens when ordered communication fails, underlies both health and disease and is one of the keys to understanding systems-level cell signalling. We use multi-omics, bio-imaging and a range of physiological assays to understand how signalling networks integrate to regulate normal cell and tissue biology. We are also interested in how they become dysregulated in diseases such as cancer or are rewired in response to therapies.

Dynamic cell biology

Dynamic interactions between cells and their local microenvironment control almost all biological processes in humans, and aberrations in these mechanisms drive a wide range of diseases. Our researchers employ multidisciplinary approaches to understand how cells integrate mechanical and biochemical signals from the microenvironment to control migration, mechanotransduction, transcription and tissue remodelling. A major focus is on how these mechanisms regulate cancer invasion, metastasis and response to targeted molecular therapeutics.

Multi-cellular physiology

Our researchers have access to a wide range of pre-clinical in vivo models for studying development and disease, with a strong emphasis on 3Rs, for example through expertise in non-mammalian models (yeast, flies, worms, etc). These are complemented by excellent imaging and phenotypic profiling resources to support our research aimed at repairing or replacing diseased cells and tissues via regenerative medicine approaches.

Research centres

Liverpool Centre for Cardiovascular Science

Liverpool Cancer Research Institute


Centre for Cell Imaging

The Liverpool Centre for Cell Imaging (CCI) is a world-class resource for light microscopy. The CCI has a state-of-the-art suite of custom-designed temperature-controlled rooms for optimal live cell and super-resolution imaging. All microscopes have temperature and gas control to maintain cells or organisms alive in their physiological environment.

Biomedical Electron Microscopy Unit

One of the leading bioscience EM units in the UK with significant expertise in correlative light and electron microscopy, immuno-EM and 3D-EM. The facility supports a wide range of local and international research projects with a continually updated roster of equipment and image analysis tools. A notable capability is 3View 3D-EM allowing large scale cell and tissue organisation to be understood on the nanoscale.

Professor Ian Prior

Professor Ian Prior

Head of Department

Professor Judy Coulson

Deputy Head of Department

Dr Aditi Kanhere


Dr Tobi Zech

Reader and Head of the Centre for Cell Imaging

Dr Natalia Sanchez-Soriano

Senior Lecturer

Professor Sylvie Urbé

Professor and Dept PGR co-lead

Dr Anne Herrmann

NC3Rs research fellow

Dr Mark Morgan

Senior Lecturer and Institute EDI lead