UCL Division of Biosciences

Prof Michael Duchen

Prof Michael Duchen

Professor of Physiology

Cell & Developmental Biology

Div of Biosciences

Joined UCL
1st Oct 1984

Research summary

We are interested in a wide range of issues related to mitochondrial biology and cell signaling. Much of our current work is focused on interrelationships between calcium signaling, mitochondria and free radicals in cell physiology and pathophysiology. This work embraces questions about the contributions of mitochondrial function to intracellular calcium signaling.

We are fascinated by the intimate dialogue between mitochondrial biology and cell signaling pathways. How do cell signaling pathways impact on and regulate mitochondrial physiology? How do subtle changes in mitochondrial function affect cell physiology? How are mitochondria in different cell types specialized to match the specialized differentiated function of the cells they inhabit? 

We are especially concerned to characterise the contributions of mitochondrial dysfunction to cell injury and cell death in ischaemia-reperfusion injury and in neurodegenerative diseases. Most of our work involves live cell fluorescence microscopy and imaging, including confocal, multiphoton and fast read-out cooled CCD instruments. All approaches have been adapted to allow the simultaneous or near simultaneous measurement of multiple variables - cytosolic calcium and mitochondrial potential, cytosolic calcium and mitochondrial calcium, NADH autofluorescence and cytosolic calcium or cytosolic magnesium and so on. 

We also have a specific interest in functional cellular imaging and in the development of new approaches to functional imaging in living cells using targeted probes, GFP tagged proteins, FRET and FLIM. 


University College London
, | 1984
, | 1981
St George's Hospital Medical School
, | 1978
University of Oxford
, | 1975


Michael was born in South Africa, moving to the UK in 1960. He studied Physiology and Medicine in Oxford, 1971-75, then moved to St George's Hospital Medical School to complete his clinical training, graduating 1978. he worked in clinical medicine in junior hospital appointments 1978-1981 including a period working at a rural hospital in the Transkei, South Africa. He moved to the UCL Department of Physiology to embark on PhD studies 1981 -1984 with Tim Biscoe as supervisor and mentor. He has stayed at UCL Physiology (now the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology) ever since, first as a Royal Society University Research Fellow, then as Reader and Professor. His early research was electrophysiological with an interest in neurotransmitter receptor biology, but he became interested first in the influence of cell metabolism on excitability and then increasingly fascinated by mitochondrial biology, in the dialogue between cell signalling pathways and mitochondria, in the roles of mitochondria in disease and ultimately in the question of whether mitochondrial pathways represent viable therapeutic targets in a variety of disease states.