Dr Richard UnwinPhD

Research Fellow

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Mass Spectrometry Lead, Centre for Advanced Discovery and Experimental Therapetics (CADET), Division of Cardiovascular Sciences

I am the mass spectrometry lead within CADET, and an Honorary Lecturer at UoM. The aim of our laboratory is to analyse protein and metabolite levels and modifications, including targeted analysis of small molecules and protein isoforms, in primary (clinical and pre-clinical) samples to determine key aspects of disease development or drug action, with the intention of using the knowledge gained to identify and develop novel therapeutics.

I am also actively involved in public engagement activities, and am PE champion for the faculty (profile), and represent the Institute for Human Development on the FMHS PPI/E Coordinating Centre forum.


Richard obtained a BSc. in Biology, and an MSc. (Distinction) in Oncology from Nottingham University before completing his PhD in Leeds, applying proteomics to study renal cell carcinoma and developing methods for identifying tumour markers and antigens.

Subsequently, in the laboratory of Prof Tony Whetton in Manchester, he developed methods for the proteomic analysis of leukaemic and normal haematopoietic cell and stem cell (phospho)proteomes, establishing mass spectrometry for large scale relative protein quantification and phosphorylation site mapping. During this time, he also developed the MIDAS (MRM-Initiated Detection and Sequencing) workflow, initially for the sensitive detection of post-translational modifications, including phosphorylation, acetylation and proline hydroxylation. This workflow was extended to include relative and 'absolute' quantification of post-translational modification levels between samples, and is useful for the sensitive detection of any peptide, particularly in establishing MRM/SRM-type assays for biomarker validation workflows.

In 2011, he took up the post of Proteomics Lead in the newly established Centre for Advanced Discovery and Experimental Therapeutics (CADET), a joint venture between Manchester University and the Central Manchester Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The laboratory is primarily focussed on analysis of clinical and pre-clinical material in order to discover novel targets for therapeutic intervention, to define key pathways in disease progression, and extend these studies into the development and characterisation of novel therapeutics for common human conditions, including complications of diabetes, dementia, cardiovascular disease and complications of pregnancy. We are also developing a track record of developing assays for targeted quantification of proteins and small molecules by mass pectrometry, providing data on pharmacokinaetics on both new and existing medications, or allowing the analysis of novel disease biomarkers in large sample cohorts.

Social responsibility

I am actively involved in a wide range of public engagement activities. I am part of a CADET team delivering events to schoolchildren as part of science events. and have been awarded funding for the Royal Society to develop resources for a primary school science week. In these activities, participants are invited to diagnose diabetes by way of a demonstration urine test (dipstick) and blood test (using paper chromatography). CADET has also developed an A-level study day where students at local colleges visit the University and  learn about diabeteic complication vis a 'Dragons Den'-style pitch for funding, and an activity where we look at the research CADET does identifying markers of disease processes and how these may be used clinically. To supplement these activities, we have recently developed a series of short animated videos explaining our research. these can be found here.

I am PE champion for the faculty (profile), and represent the Institute for Human Development on the FMHS PPI/E Coordinating Centre forum.

I also sit on the governing body of Arlies Community Primary School, Stalybridge.


  • PhD; University of Leeds, UK 2002
  • MSc. Oncology (with distinction); University of Nottingham 1998
  • BSc. (Hons) Biology; University of Nottingham 1997

Education / academic qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, Proteomics-based Approaches to the Identification of Novel Antigens and Markers in Renal Cell Carcinoma (1998 - 2002)
  • Master of Science (1997 - 1998)
  • Bachelor of Science, Biology (1994 - 1997)

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