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Illustration of a body clock gene

Centre for Biological Timing

Understanding the rhythms of life

The University of Manchester is home to the largest biological timing research community in Europe. Led by Professor Robert Lucas, we bring together world-leading researchers with a multidisciplinary approach to cellular timers and circadian clocks.

Our research spans from model organisms and understanding of fundamental cellular events, through to clinical intervention into human diseases, including diabetes and inflammatory arthritis.

We undertake this research across three major areas of activity:

Biological timing is a central feature of all living things. Driven by endogenous biological clocks, the ability to track time allows organisms to adapt their biology and thus optimally respond to the fluctuating environment of our planet.

Critical to this is the role of internal timers in coordinating innumerable cellular and physiological processes, which drive our development and biology, from gene expression to behaviour.

We are now realising the full impact of biological timing events in cell physiology, development and disease.

Our research is unravelling how cells and tissues use oscillatory processes to generate appropriate functional response to dynamic internal and external cues across vast temporal and spatial scales.

Disruption to temporal control mechanisms are linked to many diseases, including cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, inflammatory conditions, neurodegeneration, mental health, and cancer.

Circadian changes in levels of the clock protein PERIOD2 in the mouse suprachiasmatic nuclei.

World-leading research

We are the largest biological timing community of its kind in Europe with 27 principle investigators and 86 research staff.

Our scale and success is also evidenced by the following:

  • Prestigious major personal awards are held by 11 of our investigators (6 Wellcome Trust Investigators, 5 Research Council and charity funded Research Fellows)
  • On-site Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facilities (WT-CRF) specifically designed for circadian research
  • Major industry partnership (GSK, Pfizer, Phillips lighting, and many others)
  • 1,312 papers, 54,000 citations and 105 group H-index

We have world-leading facilities for the study of biological timing, with major investment into research infrastructure:

  • £3m into imaging suite
  • £1m into in vivo behavioural facilities
  • £500K in novel transgenics

From investment to impact

We have more than £56million in active research funding. Our work is turning this investment into real world impact.

  • Setting international standards for architectural lighting
  • Revealing novel therapies – Pfizer programme in circadian research
  • Driving forward drug development – GSK drug development in clock acting drugs
  • Ongoing clinical trial programme in type-2 diabetes, asthma, inflammatory arthritis
  • Revealing the impact of the circadian system on the UK public through UK BioBank

Our researchers

Meet our director and find out more about how some of our researchers contribute to research in biological timing.

Professor Rob Lucas BSc, PhD

GSK Chair in Neuroscience

Professor Rob Lucas

Photoreception is one of our key sensory capacities. It forms the basis of vision and of numerous sub-conscious reflex responses to light. Rob’s laboratory studies how mammals use their three types of photoreceptor (rods, cones and melanopsin) to tell time of day and to see. They also study the light sensitive proteins that support photoreception in animals (opsins), with the aim of understanding how they work and exploiting them for optogenetic purposes.

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Featured researchers

Dr Jean-Michel Fustin

UKRI Future Leaders Fellow

Dr Jean-Michel Fustin

Jean-Michel recently joined us from Kyoto University, after receiving a prestigious UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship award. He is interested in mRNA methylation and its fundamental role in regulating rates of mRNA transcription, processing, translation and degradation, and how this, in turn, programmes the cellular circadian clock. Jean-Michel’s research is helping to uncover how mRNA methylation are influenced by our diet, daily rhythms in feeding, and overall metabolic state.

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Dr Hannah Durrington

Asthma UK Senior Clinical Academic Fellow and Dean’s Clinical Prize Recipient

Dr Hannah Durrington

Hannah’s research is beginning to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the chronobiology of asthma. She is particularly focussed on translational aspects and has recently completed a clinical study, investigating patients with asthma. Her future plans are to establish the role of chronotherapy and timing in the management of asthma.

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Dr Julie Gibbs

Senior Lecturer and Arthritis UK Research Fellow

Dr Julie Gibbs

Julie’s interests lie in understanding the mechanistic links between the circadian clock and inflammation. Her previous work has demonstrated that immune cells possess internal timers which dictate their amplitude of response to inflammatory stimuli. These cellular timers  can be critical in restraining inflammation and allowing resolution. By mapping the connections between the circadian clock and inflammatory pathways Julie hopes to gain a greater understanding of clock control of inflammation, and identify potential new therapeutic targets.

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Dr Annette Allen

Dean’s Prize Research Fellow

Dr Annette Allen

One of the principal daily variations experienced by life on earth occurs within the visual environment, as we move from a world lit by starlight to one illuminated by bright midday sun. Annette’s goal is to understand how mammalian visual systems remain functional throughout this huge change, using information from the light environment and from the circadian clock.

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Highlight publications


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Training future scientists and doctors

We are strongly committed to training and education at both postgraduate and undergraduate level.

Search our database to find available PhD projects related to biological timing.



The Centre has an active seminar series that covers topics of interest in biological timing research.

Find out more about our seminars and catch up with recordings from past events.

Students in the lab


Academic enquiries

Contact: Rob Lucas

Potential fellowship enquiries

Contact: Timothy Brown

PhD enquiries

Contact: Julie Gibbs

Industrial partnerships

Contact: Bruce Humphrey