Picture depicting research

The Dunn School's research specialises in the fundamental causes of human disease and new approaches to therapy.

The Head of Department is Professor Matthew Freeman.

Cell and Cancer Biology was brought to the School by Sir Henry Harris, a past Head of Department, who discovered eukaryotic cell fusion within its walls, thus pioneering the field of chromosome mapping in higher organisms and uncovering the first evidence for tumor suppressor genes. Current members of the Department pursue studies in Cell Biology and its interface with Immunology, Pathology, Molecular biology and Cancer.

The Department has an extremely strong tradition of excellence in this field, going back to the discovery of lymphocyte recirculation by Prof. James Gowans and of the immunoglobulin superfamily by Prof. Alan Williams. More recently it has developed excellence in both innate and acquired immunity; the cellular basis of immunological tolerance and immunity; the signalling networks that underlie these processes ; the interplay between the immune system and microbes .

Prof. George Brownlee, a pioneer in the field of Molecular Biology, which he brought to the Dunn School in the early 1980’s, first cloned and patented the production and clinical use of recombinant human blood clotting factor IX. As Head of the Chemical Pathology Unit, Prof. Brownlee trained and established a very strong group of scientists within the Dunn School, all still interested in transcriptional and translational control of gene expression.

Perhaps the best-known achievement of this Department was attained during World War II, with the establishment of purification protocols for, and therapeutic usage of penicillin. For this work, Profs. H. W. Florey and E. B. Chain were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1949, along with Prof. A. Fleming from St. Mary's Hospital in London, who discovered the compound shortly after World War I. Subsequently, Prof. E. P. Abrahams and Dr. G. F. Newton identified and patented cephalosporin antibiotics, which are structurally related to penicillins.