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Michelle Webb, PhD


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Personal profile


Michelle obtained her BSc (1st Class Hons) in Molecular Biology in 1992 from the University of Portsmouth. In 1995 she completed her PhD under the supervision of Prof Geoff Kneale within the Biophysics group at Portsmouth and then moved to the University of Cambridge to take up a Postdoctoral research position in Dame Jean Thomas’s laboratory where she investigated the interactions of HMG1 with DNA and Chromatin. in 1998 she obtained an Oppenheimer Fellowship to contiue he work on chromatin structure. In 1999 she took up a lectureship in Chemical Biology at the University of Sheffield where she began her independent  research career on the functional analysis the Breast Cancer Susceptibility Proteins BRCA1 and BRCA2 and missense mutations contained within them. In 2004 she was appointed to Lectureship in Medical Genetics in the School of Medicine and Human Health at the University. 

Research interests

Michelles research specialises in the application of protein chemistry and biophysical analysis to developing novel platforms for clinical diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. Currently she has has several research projects in this area

Understanding the novel activity of the HIV restriction Factor SAMHD1

In 2011 we demonstrated that SAMHD1 prevented HIV infection through a novel deoxynucleoside triphosphate triphosphohydolse activity (Nature 2011, 480, 379-382). Our aim in collaboration with Dr Ian Taylor  (Francis Crick Institue) is to understand, at the molecular the catalytic activity of this novel enzyme  and its role  infected and non-infected cells.  Such insights will pave the way for novel treatments for HIV infection  

Development of label free electronic sensing platforms for the clinical disorders

In collaboration with Prof. Turner (School of Chemstry, Manchester) we are developing rapid, sensitive, low cost  electronic sensing platforms for the detection of biomarkers for disease diagnosis and prognosis. Our platforms avoid the use of expensive fluorescent labelling protocols and are being developed in an array format using novel printing technologies and microfluidics to allow the simulatanous analysis of multiple biomarkers. 

Assaying the functional impact of missense variant in BRCA1

The idenfication of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes has made it possible to identify individuals with an inherited predisposition to breast cancer. BRCA1 presents a complete spectrum of mutation types and while those that result in the introduction of a premature stop codon or a frame shift are predicted to adversely affect protein function, considerable uncertainty exists regarding the functional outcome of missense mutations. Information pertaining to over 1600 unique mutations in BRCA1 are deposited in the BIC database. 20% of these are missense mutations but due to a limited number of functional assays the risk of developing breast cancer associated with them remains unknown. Our aim  is to provide information that will contribute to the risk evaluation of missense variants by analysing their effects on interactions that mediate the functions of BRCA1, in particular those required for maintaining genome integrity, loss of which is the driving force for tumourigenesis.



Lead for Study Skills Support [Year 1 and 2 MBChB]

Academic lead for the Mansoura Excahnge Programmer [Year 1 and 2 MBChB]

PEP Tutor [Year 1 and 2 MBChB]

TPPD Tutor [Year 1 and 2 MBChB]

Portfolio tutor -Medicine [Year 1 and 2 MBChB]

Clinical genetics [BIOL 30452]


My collaborations

  • Dr Ian Taylor - Francis Crick Institute, London

  • Professor Michael Turner - Unversity of Manchester, School of Chemistry 

Memberships of committees and professional bodies

  • Manchester Breast Centre

  • ENIGMA -Inherited breast cancer consortium dealing with unclassified variants of BRCA1 and BRCA2

  • Northern Admissions Network of Medical Schools

Methodological knowledge

  • Protein Purification

  • Biophysical/biochemical characterisation  of proteins and protein nucleic acid interactions

  • Proteomics

  • Molecuar Biology

  • Enzymology

  • Clinical Microbiology


Bsc, 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

  • Christabel Pankhurst Institute


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