Department of Biochemistry University of Oxford Department of Biochemistry
University of Oxford
South Parks Road
Oxford OX1 3QU

Tel: +44 (0)1865 613200
Fax: +44 (0)1865 613201
Collage of Drosophila third instar larva optic lobe
Lu Yang, Davis lab
First year Biochemistry students at a practical class
Image showing the global movement of lipids in a model planar membrane
Matthieu Chavent, Sansom lab
Anaphase bridges in fission yeast cells
Whitby lab
Lactose permease represented using bending cylinders in Bendix software
Caroline Dahl, Sansom lab
Epithelial cells in C. elegans showing a seam cell that failed to undergo cytokinesis
Serena Ding, Woollard lab
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Synthetic biologists use bacterial superglue for faster vaccine development
Diagram of a viral vectored vaccine built using the SpyCatcher/ Tag combination An interdisciplinary team of Oxford University researchers including Biochemistry's Mark Howarth has devised a new technique to speed up the development of novel vaccines. Published: 20 January 2016
Dr Angelika Feldmann awarded Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship
Dr Angelika Feldmann Dr Angelika Feldmann has been awarded a prestigious Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellowship, a unique opportunity for promising newly qualified postdoctoral researchers to make an early start in developing their independent research careers Published: 7 December 2015

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Athena Swan Bronze Award


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Mark Sansom, Head of Department

Welcome to the Department of Biochemistry, part of the University of Oxford's Medical Sciences Division. We are one of the largest Biochemistry departments in the world and carry out world-class research and teaching. Our researchers come from a range of disciplines and work in a collaborative environment on all aspects of modern molecular and cellular biochemistry. We hope you enjoy reading more about our activities on these pages.

Professor Mark Sansom, Head of Department

News Highlight

Single human cells reveal molecular mechanisms in cell cycle control

A new paper scrutinizing how mammalian cells control transition into the DNA replication phase of the cell cycle comes out in Cell Systems (1).

HeLa cells expressing p27 reporter (green) and PCNA (purple).  Only cells in G1 express p27, which is rapidly degraded at the G1/S transition. PCNA is expressed throughout the cell cycle but is at a much lower level during G1 than during S and G2

HeLa cells expressing p27 reporter (green) and PCNA (purple). Only cells in G1 express p27, which is rapidly degraded at the G1/S transition. PCNA is expressed throughout the cell cycle but is at a much lower level during G1 than during S and G2
(Click to enlarge)

The research is part of an ongoing collaboration between the labs of Bela Novak in the Department and Chris Bakal at the Institute of Cancer Research, London. Postdocs Alexis Barr at the ICR and Stefan Heldt in Oxford are responsible for much of the work. It provides a molecular explanation for how mammalian cells transition abruptly and irreversibly into the DNA replication phase. The work also provides insight into how other transitions in the cell cycle may be controlled.

Cells control DNA replication through an elaborate set of networks that are similar between yeast and mammalian cells. There are two distinct points that the cell must pass through to enter S-phase (DNA replication phase). The decision to proliferate takes place during the resting (G1) phase of the cell cycle - at 'Start' in yeast or the 'restriction point' in mammalian cells. The irreversible transition from G1- to S-phase and commitment to replication occurs shortly afterwards.

Cyclins are a family of proteins that are important for driving the cell into S-phase. By forming complexes with the Cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs), Cyclins promote the activation of CDK activity. Different combinations of Cdk/Cyclins control different transitions within the cell cycle, and the G1/S transition is driven by the activity of Cdk2, in complex with either CyclinE or CyclinA. These Cyclins accumulate as their genes are turned on at the restriction point. However, full activation of Cdk2:Cyclin complexes first requires degradation of Cdk inhibitors (CKIs), such as the p27 protein, which keeps Cyclin:CDK complexes in an inactive state. On top of these controls are feedback loops that ensure that the G1/S transition is both abrupt and irreversible. The dynamic interactions between these different cell cycle components have been well described in yeast but are less well understood in more complex mammalian cells.

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PhD Studentships

EPSRC 4 Year Industrial CASE Studentship EPSRC CASE Studentship DSTL-funded Studentship Oxford Graduate Scholarship in Computational Biophysics


Departmental Event 'Half Term Taster Talk - Introducing Biological and Chemical Sciences at Oxford' Monday 15th Feb, 13:00 ICL Lecture Theatre, Inorganic Chemistry Inorganic Chemistry, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QR


Keep in touch with the Department


SBCB Seminar Series Chrissie Yoon, Shanlin Rao, 'Molecular Dynamics Simulations of type A GABA receptors; Bacterial membrane lipoprotein modifications and transfer: A molecular dynamics tale of the (lipid) tails' Thursday 11th Feb, 15:30 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBMB Seminar Series Antonio Biasutto, Erin Cutts, 'SBMB Seminars' Friday 12th Feb, 11:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building
SBMB Seminar Series Juan Munoz-Garcia, Akshay Sridhar, 'SBMB Seminars' Friday 19th Feb, 11:00 Main Seminar Room, New Biochemistry Building
OUBS Robert Wicks, David Lancaster, Edward Norris-Cervetto, Bridget Harris, Katy Gearing, Sarah Faircliffe, Emma Palmer Foster, Ann Le Good, David McCormick, Christine Whyte, 'OUBS Careers Day' Tuesday 23rd Feb, 10:00 Seminar Room, New Biochemistry, South Parks Road, OX1 3QU, New Biochemistry Building

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