Biosciences research group

Research theme/s: Food theme icon Health and wellbeing theme icon

Find out about our seminar series, sponsored by the Biochemical Society

microbiology image The Biosciences Research Group (BRG) carries out research in two main areas: Microbiology & Infectious Diseases and Molecular Medicine. The strength of the BRG’s approach is that it aims to understand the fundamental molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying human disease with the ultimate goal to develop effective translational therapies. BRG uses a range of tools encompassing molecular, biochemical and computational approaches, such as gene editing, structural biology, molecular modelling, signal transduction, and certain animal models to understand human disease (bacterial/viral infection, cancer, birth defects, neurodegenerative diseases). The BRG is actively involved, through its collaborations with industrial partners, in bringing about clinical applications and incorporating their cutting-edge research into teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students at the University of Hertfordshire as well as training the next generation of innovative and rigorous scientists.

Research areas

  • Microbiology of infectious diseases, e.g. Clostridium difficile infection, antimicrobial agent development, and modelling the gut microflora/antimicrobial interactions (Dr Simon Baines)
  • Studying the molecular epidemiology and drug resistance detection in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Discovery and development of novel antimicrobial agents against Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Gram negative bacteria (Dr Madhu Goyal)
  • Development of alternative antimicrobial agents/strategies (e.g. phages, gene-silencers, membrane vesicles) against drug-resistant human and animal pathogens, such as Clostridioides difficile and Staphylococcus aureus (Dr Shan Goh)
  • The role of Extracellular Vesicles in infectious disease; EV-mediated communication within the tumour microenvironment and in metastasis; therapeutic use of stem cell EVs in acute organ injury (Prof. Jameel Inal)
  • Studying the role of Siglec-Sialic acid axis in health and disease; strategies to overcome immunosuppression and inflammation in the cancer microenvironment, role of innate and adaptive immune system in cancer progression (Dr Shoib Siddiqui)
  • cells imageUnderstanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie human neurodegenerative diseases by using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (Dr Maria Dimitriadi)
  • Genetics, molecular biology and bioinformatics of disease pathogen carrying mosquitoes in relation to their control (Dr Colin Malcolm)
  • Cancer genetics and epigenetics; DNA methylation analysis, chromosomal aberrations and microRNA expression in different malignancies (Dr Maria Braoudaki)
  • Planar Cell Polarity (PCP) in tissue/organ morphogenesis and disease including of the neural tube and abdominal wall (Dr Caroline Formstone)
  • Histology and cell biology; IHC staining; novel technologies such as the use of 3D organoids and artificial epithelial tissue (skin); the potential of fungi as a medicinal tool in neurodegenerative diseases (Laura Thomas)
  • Investigating the effects of senescence, specifically, the senescence response to the chemotherapeutic treatment of cancer (Dr Helen Foster)
  • Mitigation strategies to tackle fungal contamination with the ultimate goal to reduce human exposure to mycotoxins, reinforce safety and reduce waste along the food chain. This involves mathematical models, biocontrol agents and natural antifungal compounds (Dr Esther Garcia-Cela)
  • Understanding the prevalence and population structure of existing and emerging foodborne pathogens, application of bacteriophage to control foodborne pathogens and combat antimicrobial resistant organisms and studying environmental reservoirs of antimicrobial resistance (Dr Andy Timms)
  • Computational biochemistry and biophysics applied to viral infections and transmembrane protein-protein interactions (Dr Andreas Kukol)
  • Application of computational techniques to investigate protein structure and biomolecular interactions, as well as drug target characterisation for novel anti-viral drug discovery (Dr Hershna Patel)
  • Protein structure determination via NMR spectroscopy; recombinant protein expression and purification in bacterial and yeast expression systems; recombinant protein purification; biophysical analysis of proteins and interactions (Dr Pryank Patel)
  • Enhancing plant stress resilience (Dr Cristina Barrero Sicilia)
  • Nutrition and clinical dietetics; nutritional assessment and screening especially in gastroenterology and hepatology; dietary management of gallstones; blended diets via enteral tube feeding; behaviour change relating to nutritional wellbeing; energy expenditure prediction in obesity (Dr Angela Madden)

Research students

Research Staff


Research grants and granted consultancy income have recently been secured from the Wellcome Trust, BBSRC, MRC, Royal Society, Procarta Bioscience Ltd, UK India Education Research Initiative (UKIERI), PRODEP Mexico, Food Safety Research Network, Food Safety Agency, Perry Foundation, Innovate UK and the Industrial-Academia Partnerships and Pathways (IAPP) ‘EVEStemInjury’.


roundwormResearch in the biosciences group is supported by the well-equipped state-of-the-art Science Building that houses cutting-edge research technologies: cell culture and histology facilities, molecular biology laboratories, fermentation equipment for medical microbiology and biotechnology research, anaerobic microbiology facilities, confocal imaging and C. elegans microscopy, fluorescence spectroscopy, FTIR spectroscopy, NMR, access to the UH high performance computer cluster, MALDI-TOF MS and Nanosight Tracking Analysis (NTA, LM10) for Extracellular Vesicle characterisation.

Research degrees and post-doctoral fellowships

Applications are invited from candidates with good first degrees in biosciences, chemistry, bio-physics, genetics, neuroscience or other relevant disciplines to join projects as research students. Projects are available for PhD and MSc by Research students in the areas mentioned above (but not limited to). Candidates from low and middle income Commonwealth countries can apply annually to the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission for a Commonwealth PhD Scholarship with support from UH Bioscience researchers. In addition, we welcome Visiting Researchers and Postdoctoral Fellowships in the research areas above. We will gladly support and assist with fellowship applications to national and international research councils or charities.

To learn more about the research degree programmes offered in biosciences please visit the Doctoral College page.

We recommend that you discuss your proposed research with a member of academic staff of the Biosciences Research Group before submitting your application. Please name the staff member when submitting your application.

For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Yongju Huang, Clinical, Pharmaceutical and Biological Science Research Tutor.

Download your application form here. Application forms should be returned to the Doctoral College.

Email Dr Maria Dimitriadi for any enquiries about this research group.