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Dr Bruno Martins

Supervisor Details

Bruno Martins

Contact Details

Dr Bruno Martins

School of Life Sciences, University of Warwick


Research Interests

Many organisms, from simple bacteria to complex mammals, have an internal ‘circadian’ clock that helps regulate essential life processes on a 24-hour cycle. The circadian clock is a network of interacting genes and proteins, which in turn interact with other processes in cells to switch genes on or off. Our goal is to understand both how and why the clock works together with these other processes, such as the cell cycle, metabolism or stress responses. To do so, we study the simplest known clock, which is found in photosynthetic cyanobacteria. By studying this simple system, we can establish general principles that we can then apply to more complicated organisms.

To test our hypothesis, we combine mathematical modelling – to quantitatively validate our understanding – with cutting-edge experimental techniques, including live imaging and synthetic biology. Our approach provides high-resolution data on the behaviour of individual cells (rather than whole populations averaged together). Differences between individual cells are often crucial to distinguish between hypotheses. It is also important that this data is dynamic, as otherwise causality is difficult to determine.

Understanding how the clock drives, and is in turn driven by, other cell processes is also the first step towards developing the capabilities to control it. Such control could be relevant for future research in other organisms as well as for applications in biomedicine and synthetic biology.

Scientific Inspiration

My scientific inspirations are François Jacob and Jacques Monod. For a few amazing years, they joined forces to create a new paradigm in both molecular and quantitative biology, by essentially discovering and creating a framework to explore the process of gene regulation. Their experiments and interpretation were highly creative and blended theoretical intuitions with solid empirical data. Throughout their lives, both also maintained and upheld strong humanist convictions.

Project Details

Dr Bruno Martins is supervising no projects this year.