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General synthesis of functionalised bicyclopentanes (EPSRC-GSK CASE Award)

   Department of Chemistry

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  Dr C Aissa  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

The position will be advertised until filled but a first round of interviews will be organised as soon as possible. Hence, early applications are strongly encouraged.

Fully-funded PhD studentship with GSK at The University of Liverpool.

Despite a rejuvenated interest in bicyclo[1.1.1]pentanes (BCP) that is motivated by their beneficial effect on the physicochemical properties of bioactive molecules, BCP remain underrepresented in the patent literature due to a lack of methods for their synthesis.

This gap in methodologies severely restricts the potentially fruitful exploitation of BCP as metabolically stable bioisosteres in drug discovery. This project will establish a general method for the synthesis of BCP that is built on our recently published work (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2022, 61, e202111291) and will be conducted in Liverpool in a collaboration with GSK (Stevenage) and Prof F. Duarte (Oxford).

Importantly, beyond ambitious reaction development in organic synthesis, the student working on this project will be trained in the use data analytics to predict the robustness and scope of the reaction on a wide range of substrates, which will be then tested experimentally in collaboration with GSK during a 3-month placement. Hence, this position is a fantastic opportunity to train ambitious researchers for their future career, either in industry or academia.

The project will be directed by Dr Christophe Aïssa and hosted at the University of Liverpool in a state-of-the art laboratory with access to outstanding in-house analytical facilities (500 MHz NMR cryo-magnet, chiral HPLC, HMRS, CHN/CHNS-Elemental Analysis, X-ray diffraction suite). The department of Chemistry was ranked 2nd in the UK in the 2014 REF and is splendid environment for world-class research.

The successful candidate should have at least a 2:1 Master degree in Chemistry or equivalent by the start of the studentship. The candidate should be highly motivated and curious to explore new chemical reactivity and should demonstrate good communication skills to interact with a diverse set of undergraduates, post-graduates and post-doctoral associates. Project experience in industry would be an advantage, but is not a prerequisite.

Your application package should be sent to Christophe Aïssa ([Email Address Removed]) include a cover letter including the applicant motivation in this PhD studentship and teaching interests, a full CV, and the contact details of two academic referees. Alternatively you can apply via: and click on the 'Ready to apply? Apply online' button to start your application. Please ensure you include the project name General synthesis of functionalised bicyclopentanes, and quote reference CCPR0045 in your online application form.

The position will be advertised until filled but a first round of interviews will be organised as soon as possible. Hence, early applications are strongly encouraged. Do not hesitate to contact Christophe Aïssa per email ([Email Address Removed]) for any questions you may have about this position.

Funding Notes

The studentship will cover full tuition fees at the UK rate and pay a maintenance grant for 3.5 years (£15,609 p.a. with predicted annual increase) and it is anticipated that the successful candidate will start in October 2022. Applications from non-UK candidates who meet the eligibility requirements of EPSRC: and the language requirements of the University of Liverpool: are welcome.


Livesley, S.; Sterling, A. J.; Robertson, C. M.; Goundry, W. R. F.; Morris, J. A.; Duarte, F.; Aïssa, C. Electrophilic Activation of [1.1.1]Propellane for the Synthesis of Nitrogen-Substituted Bicyclo[1.1.1]pentanes. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2022, 61, e202111291
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