Mike Murphy received his BA in chemistry at Trinity College, Dublin in 1984 and his PhD in Biochemistry at Cambridge University in 1987. After stints in the USA, Zimbabwe, and Ireland he took up a faculty position in the Biochemistry Department at the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand in 1992. In 2001 he moved to the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit in Cambridge, UK (then called the MRC Dunn Human Nutrition Unit) where he is a programme leader.
Murphy’s research focuses on the roles of reactive oxygen species in mitochondrial function and pathology. In particular he has pioneered the targeting of bioactive and probe molecules to mitochondria in vivo. This general methodology is now widely used. Prominent mitochondria-targeted compounds are antioxidants, such as MitoQ, which protects against oxidative damage in ischaemia-reperfusion injury. Murphy developed MitoQ as an oral drug which has been used in two Phase II trials so far. This work established mitochondria as a relevant drug target and opened up the field of mitochondrial pharmacology. The Murphy group has gone on to create MitoSNO, a mitochondria-targeted nitric oxide donor which is now being developed as a potential therapy for cardiac ischaemia-reperfusion injury, and MitoG to treat diabetes. Recently his work has extended to determining the mechanism by which mitochondria produce free radicals during ischaemia-reperfusion injury in heart attack and stroke. Murphy is Professor of Mitochondrial Redox Biology at the University of Cambridge, a Wellcome Trust Investigator, honorary research Professor at the University of Otago, New Zealand, a recipient of the Keilin Medal from the Biochemical Society and is an honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He has published more than 340 peer reviewed papers, which have garnered more than 36,000 citations and he has an h-index of 103.