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Developing new treatments for infections caused by Gram-negative bacteria

Pure and Applied Chemistry

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Dr Fraser Scott No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
Glasgow United Kingdom Microbiology Pharmaceutical Chemistry Pharmacology Synthetic Chemistry

About the Project

This project is one of 19 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.

"Developing new treatments for infections caused by Gram-negative bacteria" to be delivered by the University of Strathclyde [Supervisors: Dr Fraser Scott (Pure and Applied Chemistry, University of Strathclyde) and Professor Simon Mackay (Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Strathclyde)] and Public Health England ( [External Partner Organisation supervisor: Dr Mark Sutton].

The Scott Research Group, University of Strathclyde, in partnership with Dr Mark Sutton, Public Health England, is seeking a motivated and diligent Ph.D. candidate to work on an antibacterial drug discovery project within the Strathclyde Minor Groove Bidner research program. The project will apply a combination of techniques from chemistry and biology, and is an excellent opportunity to train at the cutting edge of these disciplines.

Project Background

We are all at risk from bacterial infections that have become resistant to current antibiotics. This so-called 'antibiotic apocalypse' has been predicted to lead to 10 million unnecessary deaths at a cost of $100 trillion by 2050. Of particular concern are infections caused by multi drugresistant (MDR) Gram-negative bacterial pathogens. The University of Strathclyde has invented a family of novel chemical structures called Strathclyde Minro Groove Binders (S-MGBs) and formed a partnership with the Scottish Small-Medium Enterprise MGB Biopharma to develop them as antibiotics. This partnership has already been successful by completing a phase IIa clinical trial for one compound, MGB-BP-3, for the treatment of Clostridium difficile associated infections. In this project, we further our collaborative approach by partnering with Public Health England, and utilising clinical links with NHS Lanarkshire. We will extend our success to develop urgently needed development candidates for the treatment of infections caused by MDR Gram-negative bacteria, such as E. coli, K. pneumoniae and A. baumannii, by taking advantage of recent understanding in how our S-MGBs can accumulate in, and therefore kill, Gram-negative cells. MGB-BP-3 has the potential to be developed into a Gram-negative active drug given appropriate structural modifications allowing for increased effective intracellular concentration of MGB - this strategy cannot be described here in detail due to intellectual property protection reasons. Ultimately, we will develop our novel class of antibacterials, S-MGBs, into potent drugs to combat Gram-negative infections.

The successful candidate will gain skills in synthetic organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry and biophysical studies at the University of Strathclyde, where the majority of the studentship will take place. However, there will be a 6-month placement at Public Health England, and other visits, to gain skills in microbiology, biochemistry and molecular biology.


Enquiries should be sent by email to Dr Fraser Scott:

[Email Address Removed]


Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a strong MChem (or equivalent) degree. The position is well suited to candidates with significant experience in Synthetic Organic Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry principles. Applicants should also have a strong interest in working at the interface of chemistry and biology.

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); full transcripts from your undergraduate degree and any previous postgraduate studies; and a covering letter detailing your experience and motivation for PhD studies, by email to Dr Fraser J Scott:

[Email Address Removed]

Please note, your application may be shared with the funders of this PhD Studentship, Medical Research Scotland and Public Health England.

Interviews are expected to take place 2-3 weeks after the closing date for applications. In light of the current coronavirus situation, interviews may be conducted by video conference/conference call.

It is anticipated that the PhD Studentship will start 1 October 2021.

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.


Further department details:
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