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Chemoenzymatic approaches to explore polysaccharide structure-property relationships

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  • Full or part time
    Dr G J Miller
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Polysaccharides are carbohydrate architectures containing multiple units of common monosaccharide precursors that are assembled into linear and branched chains where they constitute around 80% of biomass. They provide essential structural roles, aggregating into well-defined systems with different, ultimate physical properties. There is a current global necessity to develop and supply biocompatible, cheap and renewable materials for application across a multitude of industrial sectors. Polysaccharides satisfy much of these material requirements, but this is predicated by a need to first fully understand their higher structural architecture underpinning to their physicochemical, biomaterial properties.

In contrast to the situation with nucleic acids and proteins, polysaccharide architectures are not template-encoded and they are not under direct genomic control. Hence, we currently have no ‘code’ or ‘tool-kit’ with which to understand and manipulate polysaccharide materials. A strategy to circumvent this is to provide a controlled access to defined oligosaccharides. These materials can then be subjected to in depth structural and functional analysis, to learn the rules that control and drive higher order assemblies in polysaccharides.

This project will involve the design and assembly of oligosaccharide fragments using chemical and enzymatic methods. You will be involved in conceiving and synthesising defined oligosaccharide sequences which will be utilised in conjunction with the industrial partner, Unilever, to perform physicochemical and functionality screening.

This is an exciting opportunity to be part of a team interfaced between academia and the specialty chemicals industry. The project will be jointly hosted between the Miller and Field groups at Keele and Manchester respectively, alongside spending time at the industrial partner and participating in Unilever graduate training activities You will receive full training in organic/carbohydrate synthesis and biochemical approaches for oligosaccharide modification. Transferable skills such as reporting of results orally and in writing, time management, project planning and management will be also developed.

Qualifications: Applicants should have or expect at least a good 2(i) honours degree (or an equivalent degree) in Chemistry. Any experience in synthetic organic or carbohydrate chemistry is a plus.

Contact for further information: For informal inquiries regarding the project please contact the academic leads, Dr Gavin Miller: [Email Address Removed] or Professor Rob Field: [Email Address Removed] or] and include a CV.

To submit a formal application please go to: Please quote FNS GS 2020-02 on your application.

Submission: Closing date for applications 31/05/20: Interviews will be organised from June 2020 onwards. The position will be considered filled once a suitable candidate has been identified.

Funding Notes

100% UK/EU tuition fees for 4 years.
Non UK/EU students would be required to pay the additional overseas fees themselves.
Stipend support at £19285 per annum for 4 years commencing in academic year 2020/1.

Funder: BSRC Collaborative Training Partnership with Unilever

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