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Discovering new drug targets in the Sphingolipid biosynthesis pathway of protozoan parasites


Project Description

Protozoan parasites are a diverse group of pathogens responsible for diseases ranging from Malaria (Plasmodium spp.) and Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma gondii) to the neglected tropical diseases Leishmaniases (Leishmania spp), Chages disease (Trypanosomas cruzi). In spite of considerable efforts over the last decade, treatment options remain limited. Recently, we have identified enzymes involved in the sphingolipid biosynthesis as potential novel drug targets (Norcliffe, et al. Sci Rep (2018) 3938; Mina et al. (2017) 292:12208-19). The aim of this project is to characterize these enzymes from different species by biochemical, biophysical and structural methods ranging from X-ray crystallography to small angle X-ray scattering and cryo Electron Microscopy. The successful candidate will be based in Durham and the project offers the opportunity of placement with our GCRF partners in Kolkata and/or Rio de Janeiro.

Applicants will need to be in possession of an undergraduate degree at a 2:1 honours level or above (or equivalent) in a discipline directly relevant to the research areas of chemistry and biology.

Interested applicants should send a CV (no longer than 2 pages, and should include the contact details of 2 references) and a short cover letter to Dr. Ehmke Pohl (, or on twitter @ehmke_pohl

Funding Notes

Annual stipend of £14,777. Fees paid.

How good is research at Durham University in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 39.00

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

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