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Glycoconjugate chemical biology tools: creating diagnostic sugar probes to target cancer cell proliferation

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Saturday, February 29, 2020
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This project will involve the design and chemical synthesis of a series of oligosaccharide targets alongside the establishment of new, mild ligation technologies for their conjugation to fluorophores. Ultimately, this will enable their application as chemical probes to detect glycosidase activity, which will underpin the development of a diagnostic sugar-based sensor for detecting key enzymes upregulated in cancer cell proliferation. This Keele funded PhD position is part of a larger collaborative project, funded by EPSRC-SFI, with Trinity College, Dublin and will involve periods of training/development for the candidate in a collaborator’s laboratory in Ireland. This is an exciting opportunity to be part of a multidisciplinary team interfaced between carbohydrate chemical biology and molecular sensing technologies. You will receive full training in organic/carbohydrate synthesis, ligation methodologies, biochemical techniques for probe evaluation and possibly basic cell culture techniques. Transferable skills such as reporting of results orally and in writing, time management, project planning and management will also be developed.

Informal enquiries about the project should be made to either of the academic project leads [Professor Mike Watkinson: or Dr Gavin Miller: ] and should include a CV.
Full applications to be submitted to:
Please include in your application a CV and covering letter (max 1 page) citing your research interests and motivation for this project.

Please quote FNS GS 2019-27 on your application.

Qualifications: Applicants should have or expect at least a good 2(i) honours degree (or an equivalent degree) in Chemistry. Any experience in synthetic organic or carbohydrate chemistry is a plus.

Closing date for applications: 29 February 2020. Interviews will be organised from March 2020 onwards. The position will be considered filled once a suitable candidate has been identified.

Keele University values diversity, and is committed to ensuring equality of opportunity. In support of these commitments, Keele University particularly welcomes applications from women and from individuals of black and ethnic minority backgrounds for this post. The School of Chemical and Physical Sciences and Keele University have both been awarded Athena Swan awards and Keele University is a member of the Disability Confident scheme. More information is available on these web pages:

Funding Notes

Funding: The project is funded by Keele University three years (stipend and fees).

Funding support is provided as follows:
100% UK/EU tuition fees for 3 years commencing 2020/2021. Non-UK/EU students would be required to pay the additional overseas fees themselves.
Stipend support at UKRI rates for three year commencing 2020/2021. (Stipend for 2019/20 is £15009 per annum).

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