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  Biocatalytic Synthesis and Degradation of Organosilicon Compounds

   Department of Chemistry

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  Dr L Wong  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

In synthetic chemistry, there has been increasing prominence in the use of engineered enzymes to execute chemical transformations. These biocatalysts are attractive since they offer highly efficient synthesis in terms of yields and selectivity, together with an inherent environmental sustainability stemming from a minimal reliance on halogenated or metallic feedstocks.

 This project will involve the investigation of biocatalytic systems in organosilicon chemistry, using enzymes from a marine sponge. These enzymes, termed the silicateins, are uniquely interesting as they catalyse a reaction that is rare in living systems, the formation of Si-O bonds. Harnessing the ability to form (and hydrolyse) these bonds from their corresponding organosilicon precursors with a high level of control would be both eco-friendly, economically valuable and enable a new range of synthetic reactions.

 The research is aimed at understanding silicatein’s molecular mechanism and develop applications in the synthesis of complex molecules, polymers and materials. The successful candidate should have an interest in one or more of the following areas: bioorganic chemistry, main group chemistry, molecular biology or enzymology; and is interested in developing a range of new skills. This work will equip the successful candidate expertise that are critical for the industrial biotechnology sector – the ability to rationally engineer new, high-value biocatalysts through fundamental insights in biomolecular structure and chemical reactivity.

The successful candidate will join a growing team of multidisciplinary researchers from a range of backgrounds in chemistry and biology. The research is based at the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology ( and offers state-of-the-art laboratories, instrumentation and facilities. Informal enquiries can be directed at the supervisor Dr. Lu Shin Wong (


At Manchester we offer a range of scholarships, studentships and awards at university, faculty and department level, to support both UK and overseas postgraduate researchers. 

For more information, visit our funding page or search our funding database for specific scholarships, studentships and awards you may be eligible for. 

Before you apply 

We strongly recommend that you contact the lead supervisor for this project before you apply. 

How to apply 

To be considered for this project you’ll need to complete a formal application through our online application portal

When applying, you’ll need to specify the full name of this project, the name of your supervisor, how you’re planning on funding your research, details of your previous study, and names and contact details of two referees

Your application will not be processed without all of the required documents submitted at the time of application, and we cannot accept responsibility for late or missed deadlines. Incomplete applications will not be considered.  

If you have any questions about making an application, please contact our admissions team by emailing [Email Address Removed]

Equality, diversity and inclusion 

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester and is at the heart of all of our activities. We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact.

We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status. 

We also support applications from those returning from a career break or other roles. We consider offering flexible study arrangements (including part-time: 50%, 60% or 80%, depending on the project/funder). 

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6) Materials Science (24)

Funding Notes

This is a self funding student only project 3.5 years or 4 years, depending on previous qualification.

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