Are you applying to universities? | SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE Are you applying to universities? | SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE

Developing high resolution mass spectrometry techniques for improved vaccine design.

   School of Chemistry

This project is no longer listed on and may not be available.

Click here to search for PhD studentship opportunities
  Dr D Clarke, Prof D Campopiano  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project is one of 17 four year PhD Studentships funded by Medical Research Scotland ( to be delivered jointly by the named University and External Partner Organisation (EPO). The Studentship will provide the first-class academic and additional training provided by the EPO needed to equip the successful candidate for a science career in an increasingly competitive market.

"Improving the vaccine development pipeline with high resolution mass spectrometry epitope mapping" to be delivered by the University of Edinburgh [Supervisors: Dr David Clarke and Professor Dominic Campopiano (both School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh)] and GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines Srl ( [External Partner Organisation supervisor: Dr. Nathalie Norais].  

This is an exciting fully funded 4-year studentship in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to advance mass spectrometry methods for vaccine design. We will develop unique approaches to better understand the molecular details of antigen/antibody recognition. The successful applicant will spend 3 months on placement within The Proteomics and Antigen Structure Laboratory at GSK Vaccines in Siena, Italy.  

Vaccination has been a major advance for healthcare, allowing the eradication and reduction of various infectious diseases. However, while existing vaccines continue to be improved and distributed, major pathogens such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or the causative agent of malaria represent significant research challenges that require the development of new strategies for vaccine development. Structural vaccinology, or structure-based antigen design is an emerging field to generate more efficient and safer vaccines. Central to this approach is understanding how antibodies recognise antigens at the molecular level and using this knowledge to guide vaccine design.  

During this project new structural mass spectrometry (MS) tools will be developed that will increase both the speed we can study antigen/antibody interactions and the detail in which we can characterise them. This will involve the application of the emerging techniques of native top-down MS and hydrogen/deuterium exchange MS and we will integrate these methods with the protein isotope depletion strategy developed in our laboratory (1). This will result in a new platform for the automated epitope mapping of antigen/antibody interactions. With our industry partners at GSK Vaccines Siena, this new technology will be applied the design of innovative candidate vaccines. 

The research will provide excellent interdisciplinary scientific training for a student in protein chemistry, bioanalytical chemistry, protein mass spectrometry, and drug discovery. Mass spectrometry analysis will be performed using the state-of-the-art facilities available in the School of Chemistry. The successful applicant will work closely with our project partners in GSK Vaccines and will join the GSK Sciences Academy, a network of young researchers from all over Europe. In addition, the project includes an opportunity to undertake a 3-month placement at The Proteomics and Antigen Structure Laboratory at GSK Vaccines in Siena, Italy.


Enquiries should be sent by email to Dr David Clarke:

[Email Address Removed]


Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first or 2.1 UK honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK, in chemistry, biochemistry or a closely related discipline.

Applications are welcome from UK nationals as well as EU nationals that hold UK settled or pre-settled status.

Applicants should send a CV, the contact details of 2 referees (including email addresses) and a covering letter explaining why they are applying for this Studentship, by email to Dr David Clarke:

[Email Address Removed]

Please note, your application may be shared with the funders of this PhD Studentship, Medical Research Scotland and GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines Srl.

Interviews are expected to take place approximately 4 weeks after the closing date for applications. Interviews may be conducted by video conference.

It is anticipated that the PhD Studentship will start 12 September 2022.

Funding Notes

PhD Studentship provides: an annual tax-free stipend of £18,500, increasing to £19,000 over the four years; tuition fees at home rates only; consumables; and generous travel allowance. International fees are not covered.


How good is research at University of Edinburgh in Chemistry?

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

Click here to see the results for all UK universities

Open days

PhD saved successfully
View saved PhDs