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iCASE PhD Studentship in Organic Synthesis with AstraZeneca: “Amine synthesis through radical-nucleophilic substitution”

   Department of Chemistry

   Applications accepted all year round  Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

This is a fully-funded synthetic organic chemistry PhD project in collaboration with AstraZeneca. This project comes with the optional opportunity to spend 3 months working at an AstraZeneca site in the UK. Applications are being considered on a rolling basis and the closing date for applications is flexible. The student appointed to this project will likely start in October 2023 or earlier


Amines are one of the most fundamentally important functional groups in the pharmaceutical industry as more than 40% of all small molecule drugs contain an amine. However, there are a number of long-standing limitations associated with the synthesis of seemingly simple amines. For example, the synthesis of primary amines through direct nucleophilic substitution is often complicated by the formation of unwanted secondary and tertiary amines or quaternary ammonium salts.


The aim of this project is to circumvent these limitations and develop sustainable transition-metal-free amination reactions through radical-nucleophilic substitution. Building upon our previous work in this area (Chem. Sci. 2021, 12, 14641; ChemRxiv 2022), new reagents will be designed to achieve this goal and deliver transformations of immediate interest to the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Detailed mechanistic studies will be performed using combined spectroscopic and computational techniques to gain insight into these complex reaction processes.


The student appointed to this project will receive excellent training in organic synthesis. In particular, the student will become highly proficient in the preparation, purification and characterization of small organic molecules using inert-atmosphere, photochemical and (computational) analytical techniques. Alongside an industrial placement, the student will also have the opportunity to attend organic problem classes and present their research at national or international meetings.


For further details, please contact Dr Michael James with a CV.

For more information about the group, please visit the James Group Website.


Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. We know that diversity strengthens our research community, leading to enhanced research creativity, productivity and quality, and societal and economic impact. We actively encourage applicants from diverse career paths and backgrounds and from all sections of the community, regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation and transgender status.

We also support applications from those returning from a career break or other roles. We consider offering flexible study arrangements (including part-time: 50%, 60% or 80%, depending on the project/funder).

The School is committed to Athena SWAN principles to promote women in science; the School’s website documenting activity in this area can be found at:

Admissions requirements

Applicants should have or expect to achieve at least a 2.1 honours degree in Chemistry

Funding Notes

Fully-funded 4-year EPSRC iCASE PhD project in collaboration between the James group at the University of Manchester and AstraZeneca. You will work in a highly supportive research environment and have the option to spend 3 months working on placement at an AstraZeneca site in the UK. (European/UK Students Only).

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