Funding provider: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Subject areas: Drug discovery / Medicinal chemistry/ Antivirals
Project start date:
- 1 July 2023 (Enrolment open from mid-June)
- Dr Salvatore Ferla
- Dr Marcella Bassetto
Aligned programme of study: PhD in Medical and Healthcare Studies
Mode of study: Full-time
The Swansea University School of Medicine hosts a world-leading research programme in drug discovery and medicinal chemistry. Medicinal chemistry plays a pivotal role in a wide range of aspects of the drug discovery and development research field, offering many opportunities for interdisciplinary research. This research project, which runs in collaboration with Cardiff University and the Rega Institute for Medical Research (Leuven, Belgium), aims to identify and develop novel antiviral agents for norovirus infections, to be used both as treatments and prophylactic options during outbreaks. Norovirus, known as the “winter vomiting bug”, is the first cause of non-bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide, leading to 699 million illnesses and 219,000 deaths every year, with huge associated societal costs and health expenditures.
No commercial vaccines or antiviral drugs are currently available to prevent/stop norovirus infections, and the current therapy consists merely of supportive care with oral rehydration salts.
In this project, a combination of computer-aided drug design techniques (molecular modelling) and synthetic organic chemistry methods will be used to identify and synthesise novel antiviral treatments, in the form of small-molecule compounds, targeting norovirus NS1-2 protein and the viral polymerase, which represent promising targets for the development of antiviral agents. These targets will be studied with a series of in silico analyses, which will guide the design and synthesis of novel compounds, able to interfere with the essential functions of these proteins, and therefore to impair the virus life cycle. The new compounds prepared will be evaluated in-house in a series of biochemical assays, and tested for their antiviral properties in world-leading centres for antiviral drug discovery.
Modern laboratories and state-of-the-art equipment will be available to support the research and offer unique training opportunities with advanced research techniques.
Excellent candidates with a background in medicinal/organic chemistry, drug discovery, or closely related disciplines are strongly encouraged to contact Dr Salvatore Ferla ([Email Address Removed]), to learn more about the project and the training opportunities available to the successful candidate.
Candidates must normally hold an undergraduate degree at minimum 2.1 (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University), or a Master's degree with Merit (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University) in medicinal/organic chemistry, drug discovery, or closely related discipline.
English Language requirements: If applicable – IELTS 6.5 overall (with at least 5.5 in each individual component) or Swansea recognised equivalent.
This scholarship is open to candidates of any nationality.