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Biocatalytic synthesis of deuterium-stabilised pharmaceuticals (sponsored by AstraZeneca)

   Department of Chemistry

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  Dr Jack Rowbotham  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

A fully-funded PhD studentship is available for an outstanding and ambitious chemist to undertake research in the field of biotechnology and pharmaceutical chemistry in a collaborative project between the Future Biomanufacturing Research Hub and AstraZeneca. The successful candidate will be based in the laboratory of Dr Jack Rowbotham and co-supervised by Prof Nick Turner in the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology.

This project will explore biocatalytic approaches to the synthesis of isotopically labelled drug candidates. Deuterium incorporation at specific molecular sites is an emerging strategy for the preparation of medicinal compounds with enhanced pharmacological properties, such as stabilisation against in vivo oxidation and racemisation (see Pirali et al., J. Med. Chem. 2019, 62, 5276–5297). In this studentship, chemo-enzymatic routes will be developed for the synthesis of key asymmetrically deuterated drug intermediates. Here, the student will build upon recent work by Rowbotham on biocatalytic deuteration (e.g. Nature Commun., 2020, 11, 1454-1461) and Turner on enzymatic synthesis of chiral amines (e.g. Nature, 2022, 604, 86-91). These synthetic routes will be optimised to prepare sufficient quantities of material to test the efficacy of deuteration on the pharmacological properties of current drug targets, as guided by AstraZeneca. This opportunity will give the candidate experience in a wide range of skills relevant to biotechnology and biomanufacturing at the interface of academia and industry.

Students with a strong synthetic background are particularly encouraged to apply, and full training will be provided for the necessary molecular biology and biocatalysis skills. Training will also be provided in analytical techniques (multinuclear NMR, HPLC, GC, MS etc.) as required. The project will especially suit candidates who wish to apply an interdisciplinary research outlook to improve the sustainability of future drug design and manufacturing.

Applicants 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, engineering or technology.

 Prospective candidates are encouraged to contact Jack Rowbotham ([Email Address Removed]) or Nick Turner ([Email Address Removed]) for informal enquiries prior to submitting a full application.

 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). 

Funding Notes

Funding only for home (UK) students (overseas students may apply, but can only be accepted in exceptional circumstances).
Standard UKRI stipend (eg 22/23 is £17,668) plus £2000 per annum top-up from Astra Zeneca

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