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Design and Folding of beta barrel membrane proteins

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

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  Prof S E Radford, Prof David Brockwell  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The cell walls of Gram negative bacteria are packed with b-barrel outer membrane proteins (OMPs) whose function are essential for bacterial growth and virulence. Targeting OMP biogenesis is thus a potential route to combat antibiotic resistance. OMPs are also attractive as nanoscale sensor scaffolds. These exciting opportunities are yet to be realized, however, due to our poor understanding of how OMPs fold. In recent work with David Baker (Seattle, USA) we have successfully created the first de novo designed 8-stranded transmembrane b-barrel proteins (TMBs) (Vorobiova et al., Science (2021). In this PhD studentship we will use these protein sequences as a “blank canvas” to enable the determinants of folding of OMPs to be understood for the first time.

 You will use a wide range of techniques and approaches spanning molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology, to

  1. Deliver new fundamental understanding of the design principles of OMP sequences for efficient folding in vitro; and
  2. Enable new understanding of sequence and structural motifs that enable efficient folding of OMPs in vivo

 The outcome will be new fundamental knowledge of sequence-structure relationships in OMP folding and the translation of this knowledge for benefits in biotechnology and medicine. 


You should hold a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper-second class honours degree or a MSc degree in a relevant subject.

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Biological Sciences minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests are:

  • British Council IELTS - score of 6.0 overall, with no element less than 5.5
  • TOEFL iBT - overall score of 87 with the listening and reading element no less than 20, writing element no less than 21 and the speaking element no less than 22.

How to apply:

To apply for this project applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application. 

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable).

To help us identify that you are applying for this studentship please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • When asked for source of funding please make it clear that you are applying for a "White Rose BBSRC DTP Studentship"
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert. You can be considered for up to 3 projects in total.

If you have any further queries regarding this opportunity, please contact [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This opportunity is funded by the White Rose BBSRC DTP and will attract an annual tax-free stipend of £17,668 (based on the 2022/23 rate). The award will also cover academic fees. This opportunity is available to UK and International fee rated applicants. Please note that any expenses related to the relocation of international students to the UK (visa, insurance, NHS fees, flights, etc) would be their responsibility and are not covered by this award.

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