Disorders such as atherosclerosis, chronic inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases will be investigated by the MRC Centre for Developmental and Biomedical Genetics at the university.
The centre will use simple non-mammalian organisms such as tropical fish or the fruit fly to generate whole animal models of the genetic dysfunctions underlying human disease. It is able to do this as the organisms share many cellular processes and have many genes in common with humans.
Researchers at the centre have already pioneered the use of tropical zebrafish to establish a model of inflammatory response where specialised immune cells, neutrophils, can be visualised using a non-invasive technique.
‘The research carried out in the centre has major implications for understanding the root causes of a range of human disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, asthma and cardiovascular disease,’ said Professor Philip Ingham, founding director of the MRC centre at Sheffield. ‘There is a pressing need for new therapies for these conditions and by bringing world-class scientists and clinicians together under the same roof the centre aims to develop novel routes to the development of such therapies.’
As well as the core funding provided by the MRC, the centre has a number of collaborative projects funded by various organisations, including the Parkinson’s Disease Society, the Wellcome Trust, the BBSRC, CRUK, the Michael J Fox Foundation, the Spastic Paraplegia Foundation, and Help the Aged.