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Chemical approaches to improving field-based separation technology


Project Description

In this highly multidisciplinary project, you will help develop chemical methods to aid in the detection of cancer biomarkers at the point-of-care based on our pioneering work in miniaturised diagnostics.
High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) is a gold standard analytical technique crucial to many industries worldwide in its ability to separate and identify chemicals in a complex mixture. For instance, human blood or urine samples. HPLC systems that are portable are becoming increasingly attractive in their ability to perform measurements at the point of sampling. This has potential in field-based applications such as water testing, food security and healthcare. However, conventional LC systems are not suited to point-of-sampling analyses primarily due to their size and lack of robustness outside controlled laboratory conditions. Furthermore, there are significant pressures to minimising the cost of implementing field-based solutions in resource-poor settings.
We are pioneering the development of miniaturised analytical devices based on HPLC. The current generation is the size of a small briefcase and able to perform precise biochemical analyses in the field. This research project is focused on developing chemical methods to aid field-based chromatography. For example, chemical derivatization has proved to be a powerful tool used to solve a number of issues in the analytical laboratory. Here we will explore how it can be used to detect cancer biomarkers that are otherwise undetectable with our current suite of detectors and improve limits of detection and quantitation. In parallel, you will work with the group in wider efforts toward further miniaturization of the platform to a hand-held instrument. Together, the work has the potential for major impact in field-based chemistry.

For further information, please see the research pages of Dr Ali Salehi-Reyhani, Dr Andrew J Surman and Dr Martin Ulmschneider.

Candidate profile: Prospective candidates should have a at least a 2:1 or equivalent qualification in a physical sciences degree or a related programme. This project is ideal for a talented, enthusiastic and driven student who is excited by developing new approaches in translational research. You will collaborate with world-leading bioengineers, chemists and clinicians which requires a highly multidisciplinary approach.

Environment & Training: The department of Chemistry at King’s has a training agenda above and beyond that of a candidate’s research and actively supports and encourages the development of transferable skills, in outreach communicating science to the public and promoting a professional networking culture. The candidate will have access to a suite of transferable skills courses that cover teamwork and networking, communication and public awareness plus decision making, leadership and careers guidance. Our group is encouraging of entrepreneurship education for all our members to exploit the commercial potential of the ideas they develop. Members of the group have collectively secured over £0.5M in seed-funding. There are a range of flagship programmes to boost your career, such as the King’s 20 accelerator: a unique 12-month programme to help turn ideas into reality, underpinned with £30k worth of support including mentoring, office space and investment opportunities to help you build your venture.

Applying: Students interested in undertaking a PhD in this project should register their interest as soon as possible. Informal enquiries can be made to

To apply, please visit the King’s College myApplication system: https://apply.kcl.ac.uk/
1. Register a new account/login
2. Once logged in, select Create a new application
3. Enter ‘Chemistry Research MPhil/PhD (Full-time/Part-time)’ under Choose a programme. Please ensure you select the correct mode of study.

All relevant information regarding eligibility, including academic and English language requirements, is available from the online prospectus. Please ensure that you quote the project title and supervisor “Dr Ali Salehi-Reyhani” in the relevant sections of the application form. If you require support with your application, please contact .

Funding Notes

Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD Studentship within the Department of Chemistry to start on the 1st October 2019 (preference) or 1st January 2020. The Studentship is fully funded for 4 years, on a starting bursary at the standard research council rate, which is presently £17,009 per annum including London Allowance, and covers the full cost of Home/EU tuition fees. Income tax is not payable on the stipend. This scheme only covers funding for Home/EU students. Applicants from other countries can apply but would need to cover international student fees from other sources.

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