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BBSRC SWBio DTP Studentship: Building integrated bionanohybrid circuits by design: understanding and applying single protein molecule function.

Cardiff School of Biosciences

, Monday, December 07, 2020 Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Merging ideas and principles from biology with nanoscience has proved pivotal in improving our fundamental understanding of nature and the generation of new technologies that improve our everyday lives. Your project aims to embrace this principle to look at how individual protein molecules function and how these emergent properties can be used in new nanoscale applications. It has recently emerged that proteins are inherently electrically conductive and biomolecular events can modulate conductance. Your project will utilise this exciting new concept to develop and apply a nano-scale approach to probe single protein molecule function through construction of solution-compatible integrated bioelectronic devices. Building on recent work by the supervisory team you will generate user-defined single protein molecule junctions between carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and measure conductance across the protein junction. Dynamic changes in the bond network that underlie protein structure and function will alter conductance characteristics and output signal in real time over an extended timescale. This novel conductance-based approach will allow fundamental investigations of protein function with single molecule resolution and will in the longer term facilitate applications in biomolecular electronics and biosensing. Crucially, you will be able to control the orientation and thus conductance pathway through the protein by incorporating new chemical coupling handles at designed residue positions that will define the protein bridging configuration. This will allow unprecedented access to protein function at the single molecule level and provide new insights in the underlying processes by which proteins conduct. You will focus on two protein systems. The first is fluorescent proteins which will allow you to optically gate conductance across the junction so generating light-gated bio-transistors. The second relates to one of the grand challenges in healthcare: antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Beta-lactamase (BL) enzymes that break down the most important class of antibiotics, the Beta-lactams (e.g. ampicillin) will act as the molecular bridges and electrical signals will be mapped onto events in the catalytic process. The project team has a unique combination of expertise, with a strong background in engineering proteins for nanoscale applications, quantitative single molecule imaging and nanoscale fabrication and measurement of bionanohybrids. The nature of the project means you be trained in a wide variety of techniques including protein design, genetic manipulation, non-natural amino acids incorporation, protein chemistry, single molecule imaging, nano-scale fabrication and quantitative data analysis.

Applicants for a studentship must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology. Applicants with a Lower Second Class degree will be considered if they also have a Master’s degree or have significant relevant non-academic experience.

In addition, due to the strong mathematical component of the taught course in the first year and the quantitative emphasis in our projects, a minimum of a grade B in A-level Maths or an equivalent qualification or experience is required.

Applicants must ensure they highlight their Maths background within their application and to upload any supporting evidence.

Funding Notes

A fully-funded four year SWBio DTP studentship will cover:
• a stipend* (at the standard UKRI rate; £15,285 per annum for 2020-2021)
• research and training costs
• tuition fees (at the standard UKRI rate)
• additional funds to support fieldwork, conferences and a 3-month placement


This studentship has a start date of October 2021. In order to be considered you must submit a formal application via Cardiff University’s online application service. (To access the application system, click the 'Visit Institution' button on this advert) 
There is a box at the top right of the page labelled ‘Apply’, please ensure you select the correct ‘Qualification’ (Doctor of Philosophy), the correct ‘Mode of Study’ (Full Time) and the correct ‘Start Date’ (October 2021). This will take you to the application portal. 
In order to be considered candidates must submit the following information: 
• Supporting statement 
• CV 
• Qualification certificates 
• Proof of English language (if applicable)
• In the research proposal section of the application, please specify the project title and supervisors of the project and copy the project description in the text box provided. In the funding section, select “I will be applying for a scholarship/grant” and specify advertised funding from BBSRC SWBio DTP. If you are applying for more than one Cardiff University project, please note this in the research proposal section as the form only allows you to enter one title.

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