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Michael Sherratt


  • Room 1.529, Stopford Builidng, University of Manchester

    M13 9PT Manchester

    United Kingdom

Personal profile


Senior Lecturer in Molecular Biochemistry


 I graduated with a BSc in Biology from Manchester University in 1989, and gained an MSc from UMIST in 1992. After studying in Manchester I took up a post as a Research Assistant in Microbiology at the University of Leeds, where I contributed to studies which demonstrated for the first time that patients in intensive care units contract pneumonia from their own intestinal flora. On returning to Manchester, I commenced a PhD (awarded 1997) in Prof. Cay Kielty’s laboratory, embedded within the internationally renowned Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research in the Faculty of Life Sciences.

Since commencing my PhD and in subsequent postdoctoral positions I have published extensively on fibrillin microfibril isolation, structure, enzyme susceptibility, mass distribution, mechanical function and proteomic analysis. My recent work has explored the interface between the physical and life sciences; investigating the influence of surface chemistry on the structure and function of adsorbed proteins and employing molecular combing techniques and atomic force microscopy to characterise the mechanical properties of both fibrillin microfibrils and cardiac titin.

In January 2005, I commenced a Research into Ageing Research Fellowship which aims to characterise age-related structural and functional changes in elastic fibre components. Work form this fellowship has been recognised with invitations to speak at the 36th Annual Meeting of the American Aging Association and with the prize for the best research paper at the 2006 meeting of the British Society for Investigative Dermatology.

I currently hold a lectureship in Molecular Biochemistry.

In addition to my academic work in the UK, I have also spent nearly two years working as a secondary school teacher and subsequently as a Medical School Lecturer with Voluntary Service Overseas in Malawi.

Research interests

The mechanical properties of tissues play a vital role in maintaining health. Elastic fibres, for example, allow tissues such the skin, lungs and blood vessels to deform and recoil whilst the giant protein titin plays a major role in elasticity of the heart. During ageing these tissues become stiffer, contributing significantly to patient morbidity and mortality. Using nano-mechanical, micro-mechanical, biochemical and proteomic analyses of aged and young tissue samples my research aims to characterise the fundamental molecular changes in elastic proteins which underlie age-related changes in tissue elasticity.

Ageing of elastic fibre components.
Elastic fibres are composed of fibrillin microfibrils and elastin. Our work has demonstrated that the microfibrillar component loses both strength and mass during ageing. In many tissues these age-related effects are exacerbated by exposure to environmental factors such as ultraviolet radiation, smoking and raised blood glucose levels. In collaboration with colleagues in the Dermatological Sciences, Cardiac Medicine and Tissue Injury and Repair Research Groups, and in the Faculty of Life Sciences, I am characterising the effects of ageing, sun exposure, smoking, diabetes and estrogen deprivation on elastic fibre structure and function.

Ageing of the heart.
Titin is the largest known protein in the human body. During each heart beat titin molecules act to return the heart cell to its resting size. In collaboration with colleagues in Cardiac Physiology at the University of Manchester I am using atomic force microscopy and quantitative electron microscopy to track changes in the structure and mechanical function of titin in the ageing heart.

Tissue elasticity at the microscopical scale.
The mechanisms by which changes in molecular structure influence the mechanical properties of whole tissues are not well understood. In collaboration with colleagues in the School of Materials I am developing scanning acoustic microscopy as a tool for mapping the mechanical properties of tissues at the microscopical length scale.

Tissue stability.
Desmsomes are junctions which join adjacent cells. Although the composition of these important cellular organelles is relatively well characterised the molecular structure remains poorly defined. In collaboration with colleagues in the Faculty of Life Sciences I am using atomic force microscopy to characterise their ultrastructure.


My teaching responsibilities include: supervising an industrially funded PhD student and the supervision of both intercalating medical and MRES in TERM student projects. In addition I regularly participate in the SSC component of the first year medical degree.

My collaborations

Unless otherwise stated all collaborators are based with the Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences at the University of Manchester

Prof. Christopher E.M. Griffiths
Dr Rachel E.B. Watson
Dr Neil K. Gibbs
Dr Andrew W. Trafford
Dr Katherine Dibb
Dr Helen Graham
Prof. Kennedy Cruickshank
Prof. Judith A Hoyland
Dr Jane Millward-Sadler

Prof. Brian Derby, School of Materials
Dr Riaz Akhtar, School of Materials

Prof. David Garrod, Faculty of Life Sciences
Dr Mathew Hardman, Faculty of Life Sciences

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

British Society for Matrx Biology

British Society for Research  on Ageing

Methodological knowledge

Atomic force microscopy

Electron microscopy

Scanning acoustic microscopy


Protein purification

Image analysis


BSc, MSc, PhD

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Regenerative Medicine Network
  • Digital Futures
  • Christabel Pankhurst Institute
  • Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing


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