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BBSRC White Rose DTP Studentship - Synthesising the pigments of life: Structure, function and regulation of metal chelatases in phototrophic bacteria

   School of Biosciences

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  Dr A Hitchcock, Prof Neil Hunter, Dr J Reid  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Tetrapyrroles, the “pigments of life”, are essential for respiration, photosynthesis, the nitrogen and sulphur cycles, and the biosynthesis of methane. The distinctive colours of tetrapyrroles, and their biochemical properties, depend on binding a metal ion such as magnesium in green chlorophylls or iron in hemes, which are red. Therefore, the enzymes that insert the metal ion into tetrapyrroles, called chelatases, are crucially important for most energy-yielding processes on Earth. For example, huge quantities of chlorophylls are synthesised and are essential for photosynthesis, which provides the biosphere with oxygen, food and energy, and heme is essential for respiratory electron transfer in bacteria, fungi, plants and mammals. We now need detailed structural information to gain a full understanding of how each class of chelatase inserts a specific metal, and how these complex enzymes are regulated in vivo.

This project will use a combination of microbiology, molecular genetics, protein biochemistry, enzyme kinetics, bioinformatics and structural biology to study the structure, function and regulation of metal chelatases in phototrophic organisms. The successful applicant will join the Photosynthesis Research Group ( in the School of Biosciences and work closely with the Reid Lab in the Department of Chemistry. 

For informal enquires contact Andrew Hitchcock ([Email Address Removed]).

The BBSRC WR DTP and the University of Sheffield are committed to recruiting future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and we have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.

Note: Relocation costs for international students to the UK (visa, insurance, NHS fees, flights, etc) will be the responsibility of the student 

Entry Requirements: Students with, or expecting to gain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply. The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that we welcome applications from students with backgrounds in any biological, chemical, and/or physical science, or students with mathematical backgrounds who are interested in using their skills in addressing biological questions. 

 Click to apply

Programme: PhD in Mechanistic Biology (4 years)

Start Date: 1st October 2023

Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed mid February 2023

Funding Notes

This project is part of the BBSRC White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership in Mechanistic Biology. Appointed candidates will be fully-funded for 4 years. The funding includes:
• Tax-free annual UKRI stipend (£17,668 for 2022 starts)
• UK tuition fees (£4,596 for 2022)
• Research support and training grant (RSTG)
We aim to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK and are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme

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