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Exploiting Molecular Editing for designing New Heterocycles

   School of Chemistry

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  Dr S Bew  No more applications being accepted  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Overview. This exciting PhD opportunity will generate new organic synthetic chemistry, develop novel chemical methods, expand your practical skill sets, allow you to fine-tune new techniques and develop state-of-the-art chemistry affording sought-after optically active molecules which have great utility in natural product syntheses. As an unresolved challenge this PhD will depart from ‘conventional’ organic catalysis methods; it will develop, probe & optimize a straightforward entry point to chemically versatile, unusual quaternary α-amino acids and heterocycles. This project will develop an opportunity to repurpose 3 abundant and cheap starting materials using photoredox catalysis to generate, at will, heterocycle-derived α-amino acids with stable isotope labels.

Research Programme. This PhD programme seeks an enthusiastic and independent thinker who will develop new organic Brønsted acid catalysts exploiting asymmetric hydrogen bond formation and supramolecular interactions. As part of this research you will become proficient in stable isotope chemistry incorporating multiple isotopes into your α-amino acids and heterocyclic products. A second theme for investigation is the mechanism; here you will undertake a computational study a key part of the research will identify important steps in the asymmetry inducing process. Finally, once this is complete you will bring all of this together and undertake the synthesis of an important natural product derived anticancer agent.

Why is this PhD important? This research will develop and help sustain new starting materials, it will generate unique biologically active chemical entities derived from optically active quaternary α-amino acids and heterocycles required by the agrochemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. 

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at
A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. Applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.


i. Bew et al Angewandte Chemie, International Edition, (2017), 56, 5322-5326
ii. Bew et al Chem (2016), 1, 921-945.
iii. Bew et al Chemical Society Reviews, (2012), 41, 957-97
iv. Nicewitz et al Chem. Rev. (2016), 116, 10075–10166
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