What is the fly facility?


We are research teams at the University of Birmingham using the fruit-fly Drosophila as a model organism to investigate fundamental biology with an impact in understanding human health and disease. Our daily work is supported by the Birmingham Fly Facility.

The fruit-fly Drosophila melanogaster is the most powerful model organism for in vivo genetic analysis of biological processes. Drosophila has enabled fundamental discoveries on how life works, its underlying and universal principles. Six Nobel Prizes have been awarded for discoveries made using fruit-flies. Fundamental Drosophila research contributes to the understanding of human health and disease.

We investigate from the molecular to the organismal levels. We are addressing questions into how RNA is regulated to generate cell type diversity and neuronal function; what are the molecular mechanisms that control RNA splicing, processing translation and decay; how chromatin modifying complexes regulate gene expression to control developmental innate immunity and other pathways. At the cell biology level, we investigate how cells ‘know’ how to achieve normal organ and organismal integrity, how they regulate each other to maintain tissue homeostasis, prevent cancer and enable regeneration. We investigate the brain, here linking genes, molecules, neural circuits and behaviour. We want to understand how the brain changes throughout life, how behaviour relates to brain structure; whether we can use genetics to promote central nervous system regeneration after injury; how RNA splicing impacts in behaviour; how we make decisions upon conflicting possibilities; and how disruptions on molecular events result in brain disease.

We belong to high profile international networks that recognise our research excellence:

We hold seminars and symposia together, as well as with other West Midlands teams, from the Universities of Aston, Leicester, Nottingham and Warwick.

Our labs are located in open-plan common spaces where students and post-docs interact daily and sharing of know-how is easy. We share labs, equipment, set ups and kit. We are equipped with an injection set up for transgenesis, fly rooms, behaviour rooms, fly-kitchen to make fly-food, and of course molecular benches and multiple microscope rooms that host fluorescence sorting microscopes, optogenetic, epi-fluorescence and bright-field microscopes. We have access to laser scanning confocal microscopes and a 2-photon microscope for standard Drosophila research.

Our research is supported by the Birmingham Fly Facility, with an excellent team of technicians that make for us fly-food regularly and dispose of fly waste.

We are a thriving community and engage on regular outreach events together, to explain to the general public the awesome power of Drosophila genetics in biomedical research. You may wish to explore and play with our 3D-Printed Fruit-Fly and watch our outreach movies.