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(BBSRC DTP) Biological photocatalysis for sustainable synthesis

Project Description

This project will develop biological photochemistry, using proteins as catalysts for new chemical transformations under visible light irradiation. Chemical photoredox catalysis has changed the way molecules are made in recent years, using simple visible light sources in combination with metal catalysts to mediate electron transfer reactions. Fundamental limitations of the approach, however, exist in the form of reliance on precious metal catalysts, and serious difficulties associated with control of absolute stereochemistry. We aim to develop biological photocatalysts that use organic photoredox cofactors, with the chiral active site of the protein creating possibilities for enantioselective reactions.
The project will take place in the Greaney (chemocatalysis), Green (biocatalysis and enzymology), and Hay (biological photophysics) laboratories, who all share an interest in creative organic chemistry and chemical biology to solve problems in synthesis. The PhD studentship will provide comprehensive training in both chemical and biological catalysis, to develop a new approach to photocatalysis that can deliver valuable chiral building blocks under the rubric of sustainable chemistry. Students with a degree in chemistry and an interest in next generation molecule-making methods are encouraged to apply.

Entry Requirements:
Applications are invited from UK/EU nationals only. Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, at least an upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject.

Funding Notes

This project is to be funded under the BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership. If you are interested in this project, please make direct contact with the Principal Supervisor to arrange to discuss the project further as soon as possible. You MUST also submit an online application form - full details on how to apply can be found on the BBSRC DTP website View Website

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit.


1. Sagadevan, A.; Greaney, M. F. meta-Selective C−H Activation of Arenes at Room Temperature Using Visible Light: Dual-Function Ruthenium Catalysis. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2019, 58, 9826-9830.
2. Burke, A. J., Lovelock, S. L., Frese, A., Crawshaw, R., Ortmayer, M., Dunstan, M., Levy, C.; Green, A. P. Design and evolution of an enzyme with a non-canonical organocatalytic mechanism Nature 2019, 570, 219
3. Czarnota, S.; Johannissen, L. O.; Baxter, N. J.; Rummel, F.; Wilson, A. L.; Cliff, M. J.; Levy, C. W.; Scrutton, N. S.; Waltho, J. P.; Hay, S. Equatorial Active Site Compaction and Electrostatic Reorganization in Catechol-O-methyltransferase. ACS Catal. 2019, 9, 4394.
4. Teskey, C. J. T.; Sohel, S. M. A.; Bunting, D. L.; Modha, S. G.; Greaney, M. F. Domino N-/C-Arylation via In Situ Generation of a Directing Group: Atom-Efficient Arylation Using Diaryliodonium Salts. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2017, 56, 5263.
5. Odachowski, M.; Greaney, M. F.; Turner, N. J. Concurrent Biocatalytic Oxidation and C–C Bond Formation via Gold Catalysis: One-Pot Alkynylation of N-Alkyl Tetrahydroisoquinolines. ACS Catal. 2018, 10032.

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