Michael Greaney took his undergraduate degree at Oxford, completing his part II research project in the group of Sir Jack Baldwin in 1996. He then moved to London to carry out PhD work with William Motherwell at UCL, completing his thesis in the area of new fluorinating agents in 1999. He then left the UK on a GlaxoWellcome scholarship to take up a postdoctoral position with Jeffrey Winkler at the University of Pennsylvania, where he worked on the total synthesis of the tumour-promoting diterpene ingenol. He returned to the UK in early 2002, to a lectureship position at the University of Edinburgh. He was awarded an EPSRC Leadership Fellowship in 2008, and in 2011 moved to the University of Manchester to a personal chair in organic chemistry.