Developing the next generation of broad-spectrum antiviral polymers

   School of Chemistry

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  Dr Samuel Jones  Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Applications are invited for a funded PhD position in the School of Chemistry at the University of Birmingham. The School of Chemistry is keen to achieve a gender and diversity balance across the School and welcomes applicants from all backgrounds.

A fully funded (UK fees) PhD position is available to start in September 2024 for an ambitious and talented candidate to contribute to our ongoing research program on virucidal antiviral materials.

Current response options for viral outbreaks leave us vulnerable to the catastrophic impacts of future pandemics. Virus specific vaccines, antibodies and drugs, which are being developed for current epi- and pandemics, provide no protection against future viral outbreaks. Additionally, each takes too long to implement, allowing diseases to spread. Building on our seminal research into broad-spectrum antivirals, we have developed a new multi-arm star polymer and shown it to be effective against numerous viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. Further development of these (and other) broad-spectrum antivirals is of critical importance in order for us to be prepared for the next viral outbreak.

This project will further develop these star polymers by investigating the properties that lead to the most potent broad-spectrum virucidal antivirals and screen these against a wide array of viruses. These cheap and scalable broad-spectrum virucides will mitigate future viral outbreaks by allowing for treatment at the first signs of an outbreak.

The successful applicant will need to have experience in polymer synthesis and characterisation and be willing to learn cell and viral culture techniques, which will be essential for this project. They must be enthusiastic about the topic and capable of working independently to achieve their research goals. The project offers a motivated student the opportunity to work on all aspects of the research, from synthesis through to virology assays, and presents a unique training environment for the right individual.

Applicants should contact Dr Samuel Jones for informal inquiries, and before applying (with a CV and cover letter summarising your research interests and previous experience). Formal applications should be made through the University of Birmingham’s online application system.

Further information on what it is like to be a part of the Jones Lab can be found in the groups lab manual here:

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6)

Funding Notes

The project includes funding for fees and tax-free stipend. Please note that, due to funding restrictions, only those eligible for UK home fees status may apply.


1 - Broad-Spectrum Extracellular Antiviral Properties of Cucurbit[n]urils, ACS Infect. Dis. 2022, 8, 10, 2084–2095
2 - Poly(styrene sulfonate) coated gold nanoparticles display virucidal antiviral activity, 10.26434/chemrxiv-2023-9n8zn
3 - Modified cyclodextrins as broad-spectrum antivirals, Science Advances, 2020, 6, 5

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