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Design, chemical synthesis and evaluation of nucleoside analogues

Faculty of Natural Sciences

Stoke on Trent United Kingdom Organic Chemistry

About the Project

All viruses, irrespective of the disease they cause, have to replicate in order to survive. Drugs that block viral RNA or DNA replication by mimicking the natural building blocks of RNA and DNA (A, C, G, T/U) are known as nucleoside analogues. There are three distinct features of nucleosides that make them the preferred treatment for an infectious disease where a nucleoside is available: high barrier to resistance,broad spectrum of activity and high efficacy. This can be observed in the treatments of HSV (Aciclovir and Ganciclovir), HIV (Tenofovir, Zidovudine, Abacavir Emtricitabine and Lamivudine), HBV (Entecavir, Tenofovi, Adefovir, Lamivudine and Telbivudine) and HCV (Sofosbuvir). Your PhD project will involve the design and chemical synthesis of a new class of nucleoside analogue for biological evaluation. Here we have a successful collaboration with Riboscience LLC (, a US Biotech, concerning the medicinal chemistry of a variety of new nucleoside analogues.1

Students will receive training in organic synthesis, carbohydrate chemistry and in the design and development of complex, multi-step routes to novel nucleoside analogue targets. Transferable skills such as reporting of results orally and in writing, time management, project planning and management will be developed.  


Applicants should have or expect a good I or II (i) honours degree (or an equivalent qualification in Chemistry).

Applications are particularly welcome from students with experience in organic synthesis and/or carbohydrate/medicinal chemistry.

Informal enquiries about the project should be made to the academic project lead [Dr Gavin Miller: ]

Full applications to be submitted to:

Please quote FNS 2021-02 on your application.

Please include in your application a CV and covering letter (max 1 page) citing your research interests and motivation for this project.

Keele University values diversity, and is committed to ensuring equality of opportunity. In support of these commitments, Keele University particularly welcomes applications from women and from individuals of black and ethnic minority backgrounds for this post. The School of Chemical and Physical Sciences and Keele University have Athena Swan Awards and Keele University is a member of the Disability Confident scheme.

More information is available on these web pages:

Funding Notes

This is an opportunity for self funded applicants only.
Please note that self funded applicants must provide funding for both tuition fees and living expenses for the 3 year duration of the PhD.
Eligibility Criteria;
MSc/MChem (or MRes) in Chemistry - minimum degree classification 2(i) or equivalent.


1. (a) Guinan, M., Benckendorff, C., Smith, M. & Miller, G. J. Recent Advances in the Chemical Synthesis and Evaluation of Anticancer Nucleoside Analogues, Molecules 25, 2050, (2020).
(b) Miller, G. J. Unifying the synthesis of nucleoside analogs, Science 369, 623, (2020).

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