Glycan sensing technology for early and accurate cancer diagnosis

   School of Chemical Engineering

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  Prof P Mendes  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

The Mendes group ( in the School of Chemical Engineering, University of Birmingham welcomes applications from prospective PhD students to conduct work in the area of glycan sensing technology for cancer diagnosis.

Glycans are complex sugar molecules (carbohydrates) that occur as free polysaccharides or covalently linked to proteins (glycoproteins) or lipids (glycolipids). Protein glycosylation (i.e. the attachment of glycans to proteins) is one of the most common post-translational modifications of a protein, playing an important role in eukaryote and prokaryote cells. Altered glycosylation, i.e. changes in the glycan composition and structure, is intimately linked to the onset and/or progression of numerous heritable or acquired diseases in humans. Changes in glycan structures are associated with the initiation and progression of many types of cancers, including prostate, kidney, bladder, stomach, colon, pancreas, breast, ovary, lung, and brain.

While glycoproteomic studies have identified unique glycan structures associated with different types of cancer, there is a pressing need to establish sensor technology that enables precise quantification of these structures and can accurately diagnose cancer at an early stage.

The project will focus on developing advanced glycan sensing technology for detecting a broad range of glycans with high affinity and specificity in complex biological samples. The project involves an unprecedented combination of principles and methods of polymer chemistry, supramolecular chemistry, synthetic molecular recognition, and nanochemistry. The project will have a transformative impact on the early detection of different cancers, including prostate cancer:

Candidates should hold a good bachelor’s degree (first or upper second-class honours degree) or an MSc degree in Engineering, Chemistry, Material Sciences, Physics, or Biology.

Informal enquiries can be directed to Professor. Paula M Mendes via email: [Email Address Removed]

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6) Engineering (12) Physics (29)

Funding Notes

This PhD position is opening for self-funded student only, which means the candidate with own funding to cover the living cost and tuition fees will be considered.


Joshua Norman, Stefano Tommasone, Paula M. Mendes, “Selective oligosaccharide recognition with phenylboronic acid through Cu(I) catalyzed click imprinted surfaces”, Materials Today Chemistry, 2022, 24, 100939.
Mark V. Sullivan, Francia Allabush, David Bunka, Arron Tolley, Paula M. Mendes, James H. R. Tucker, Nicholas W. Turner, “Hybrid Aptamer-Molecularly Imprinted Polymer (AptaMIP) Nanoparticles Selective for the Antibiotic Moxifloxacin”, Polymer Chemistry, 2021, 12, 4394 - 4405
S. Tommasone, Y. K. Tagger, P. M. Mendes, “Targeting oligosaccharides and glycoconjugates using superselective binding scaffolds”, Advanced Functional Materials, 2020, 2002298.

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