Biological Sciences

£9m funding boost for cell biology research

A £9 million grant from Wellcome will fund a new Discovery Research Platform that will reveal deep insights into the inner world of cells, shedding new light on diseases and antimicrobial drug resistance.

The new platform will examine understudied proteins, visualise the inner workings of cells and explore rare cell events
The new Discovery Research Platform for Hidden Cell Biology will reveal the functions of understudied proteins, visualise the inner workings of cells and explore rare cellular events

The Discovery Research Platform for Hidden Cell Biology (DRP-HCB) will tackle knowledge gaps in cell biology, technical limitations and investigative bias that have created research “blind spots”.

The seven-year grant from Wellcome will aid the development of new techniques to discover the biological functions of understudied proteins, visualise the inner workings of cells in unprecedented detail, and explore rare cellular events.

Understanding Cells

Over the past 100 years, scientists have made remarkable progress in understanding cells and proteins - the fundamental building blocks of all organisms.   

The data revolution in biology is now fuelling new opportunities that could transform understanding of cells, from the inner workings of single-celled infectious bacteria to diverse human cell types.

This knowledge is essential to understand living systems and underpins the development of new drugs and therapies to fight disease.   

Tackling Knowledge Gaps

However, numerous ‘blind spots’ - areas of research that have remained intractable or unexplored - hamper progress. These knowledge gaps are known as Hidden Cell Biology.

The DRP-HCB will encourage researchers from diverse disciplines to refocus cell biology towards neglected areas and major unsolved challenges that may have unexplored roles in health and disease.

It will also focus on overcoming technical barriers, developing tools to produce new scientific insights and making it easier to analyse and access vast and varied datasets.

Through these new techniques and collaborative research, the DRP-HCB plans to make understudied areas accessible to general research and medical communities.

About Discovery Research Platforms

The DRP-HCB announcement is part of a £73 million initiative from Wellcome for eight new Discovery Research Platforms.

Discovery Research Platforms are home to transformative research environments that will empower researchers to overcome specific barriers holding back progress in their various fields of research. 

The University of Edinburgh is the only institution in Scotland to receive a Discovery Research Platform award from Wellcome. 


By bringing together diverse expertise and technology to focus on neglected areas of cell biology, our Discovery Research Platform for Hidden Cell Biology represents a new approach to discovery research, I am excited to see the new scientific fields and insights into disease mechanisms that emerge as our Platform re-defines the research landscape. 

Professor Adele MarstonProfessor of Cell Biology and Director of the DRP-HCB, School of Biological Sciences


I am delighted to see the establishment of our Discovery Research Platform for Hidden Cell Biology and I’d like to thank Wellcome for their ongoing and visionary support. Combining our current expertise in cell biology with fresh academic and technical input promises to accelerate future scientific breakthroughs in this field to benefit all.

Professor Peter MathiesonPrincipal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh


Discovery Research Platforms are a brand-new approach for Wellcome. By providing substantial support focused on specific research challenges, these environments have the potential to revolutionise fields and provide maximum possible benefit for researchers around the world. I am particularly excited that Discovery Research Platforms span such an exciting range of disciplines, showcasing our increasingly inclusive approach to funding.

Michael DunnDirector of Discovery Research at Wellcome

Related Links

Wellcome Centre for Cell Biology 

Wellcome Press Release - From cells to societies – £73m for transformative research environments to break down barriers