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

The overarching theme of the lab is mitochondrial biology, physiology and pathophysiology. A central theme has been the relationship of mitochondria with cellular calcium signalling, but much current work explores aspects of mitochodrial quality control pathways, especially in relation to neurodegenerative disease. Mitochondrial integrity and energy homeostasis are key to cell health; multiple aspects of mitochondrial function have a major impact on cell health, function and fate – energetic competence, trafficking and dynamics, turnover, processing of intermediary metabolites and cell death pathways. This is all so fundamental, that it is not surprising that mitochondrial dysfunction is implicated in the pathophysiology of a wide range of major human diseases. It is therefore critical to understand the mechanisms by which the health of the mitochondrial population is maintained, how mitochondria contribute to cell and organ physiology and pathophysiology and to understand pathways that regulate mitochondrial function and bioenergetic homeostasis, how these change in specific diseases, and then to ask whether these represent potential novel therapeutic targets for otherwise intractable disease. Current work in the lab addresses these questions in a range of  models in which the common central theme is the understanding of disease mechanism and identification of novel potential therapeutic strategies 


University College London
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1984
Doctorate, Member of the Royal College of Physicians | 1981
St George's Hospital Medical School
Doctorate, Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery | 1978
University of Oxford
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts | 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.