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Chitin valorisation via enzymatic deacetylation

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, June 30, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

A 4 year Industrial PhD studentship is available in the group of Professor Dominic Campopiano in the School of Chemistry, The University of Edinburgh.
( The project will be carried out with industrial partner Cuantec (

Chitin is a linear homopolymer characterised by β-(1,4)-linked N-acetyl-D-glucosamine residues. It is the most naturally occurring polysaccharide after cellulose and is fundamental to exoskeletal rigidity in arthropods and cell wall biogenesis in many fungal and yeast species. In the solid state, industrial applications of chitin are limited due to its microfibril crystalline structures making it insoluble in most solvents; thus, its deacetylated counterpart, chitosan, has generated renewed interest within areas of industrial biotechnology and biomedical research as a biodegradable, antimicrobial, non-toxic and tractable biomaterial. Our aim is to identify, then apply, a range of biocatalysts for the greener conversion of shell-derived chitin into high value chitosan.

The successful candidate will possess, or expect to obtain, a first/upper-second class undergraduate or Masters degree in chemistry, biotechnology or a related subject. Experience in biocatalysis and/or chemical biology alongside associated analytical techniques is highly desirable. They should enjoy working as part of an interdisciplinary team, be keen to learn new techniques and be enthusiastic about working at the chemical/biological interface with an industrial partner. Other essential attributes are good presentation and communication skills (written and oral).

The PhD student will be trained across a broad range of chemistry, biology and microbiology. You will become expert at synthetic chemistry, biocatalysis/protein expression and purification, enzyme assay and various analytical techniques (e.g. mass spectrometry, NMR, GC, HPLC, UV, and biophysical characterisation including crystallisation, electron microscopy). You will also join the 2019 cohort of the BBSRC IBIOIC CTP and be trained in public engagement, IP and commercialisation issues and other transferable skills. (

In the first instance, informal enquiries (accompanied by a CV) should be directed to:
Prof Dominic Campopiano, School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh, David Brewster Road, Edinburgh EH9 3FJ, UK.

We aim to have interviews and recruit the student by the end of June 2019, ready to start in September 2019.
Formal applications are made through the University’s EUCLID system:

The School of Chemistry holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education. The University is a member of the Race Equality Charter and is a Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champion, actively promoting LGBT equality. The University has a range of initiatives to support a family friendly working environment. See our University Initiatives website for further information. University Initiatives website:

Funding Notes

A 4 year Industrial PhD studentship fully funded by the BBSRC IBIOIC Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP) scheme and covers tuition fees and an annual stipend (starting at £15,009 per annum) for a candidate satisfying RC UK residence criteria: View Website

How good is research at University of Edinburgh in Chemistry?
(joint submission with University of St Andrews)

FTE Category A staff submitted: 43.30

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

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