Michael Duff gained his PhD in theoretical physics in 1972 at Imperial College, London, under Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam. After postdoctoral fellowships in Trieste, Oxford, King's College London, Queen Mary College London and Brandeis, he returned to Imperial College in 1979 on a Science Research Council Advanced Fellowship and joined the faculty there in 1980. He took leave of absence to visit the Theory Division in CERN, first in 1982 and then again as a Staff Member from 1984 to 1987 when he became Senior Physicist. He has also held Visiting Professorships and Fellowships at the University of Texas, Austin; the University of California, Santa Barbara, the University of Kyoto and the Isaac Newton Institute, University of Cambridge. He took up his professorship at Texas A&M in 1988 and was appointed Distinguished Professor in 1992. In September 1999 he moved to the University of Michigan, where he was Oskar Klein Professor of Physics. In 2001, he was elected first Director of the Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics and was re-elected in 2004 .
In 2005 he returned once more to Imperial as Professor of Physics and Principal of the Faculty of Physical Sciences. He was appointed Abdus Salam Professor of Theoretical Physics in 2006.
Michael Duff's interests lie in unified theories of the elementary particles, quantum gravity, supergravity, Kaluza-Klein theory, superstrings, supermembranes and M-theory. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics , a Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts and Recipient of the 2004 Meeting Gold Medal, El Colegio Nacional, Mexico.