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Molecular-level understanding of thioesterase domains in natural product biosynthesis

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

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  Dr Ryan Seipke, Dr G.R. Hemsworth, Dr M E Webb  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Many antibiotics originate from a class of microbial natural products called hybrid non-ribosomal peptide/polyketides, which are produced by large assembly line-like machines. A key step in the biosynthesis of these compounds is their off-loading and cyclisation by a thioesterase domain located at the end of the assembly line. Despite its critical role in compound production, we understand shockingly little about thioesterase domains and how they interact and communicate with the rest of the assembly line. This project aims to plug this gap by interrogating thioesterase domain functionality in vitro and in vivo using a well characterized biosynthetic system.

The successful applicant will have an opportunity to become an expert in a diverse set of techniques including bacterial genetics, protein production and purification, various biochemical assays, x-ray crystallography and cryoEM. The outcomes of the project will make an impact on the AMR crisis by developing methodology for bioengineering the production of novel antibiotics.


You should hold a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper-second class honours degree or a MSc degree in a relevant subject.

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Biological Sciences minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests are:

  • British Council IELTS - score of 6.0 overall, with no element less than 5.5
  • TOEFL iBT - overall score of 87 with the listening and reading element no less than 20, writing element no less than 21 and the speaking element no less than 22.

How to apply:

To apply for this project applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application. 

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable).

To help us identify that you are applying for this studentship please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • When asked for source of funding please make it clear that you are applying for a "White Rose BBSRC DTP Studentship"
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert. You can be considered for up to 3 projects in total.

If you have any further queries regarding this opportunity, please contact [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This opportunity is funded by the White Rose BBSRC DTP and will attract an annual tax-free stipend of £17,668 (based on the 2022/23 rate). The award will also cover academic fees. This opportunity is available to UK and International fee rated applicants. Please note that any expenses related to the relocation of international students to the UK (visa, insurance, NHS fees, flights, etc) would be their responsibility and are not covered by this award.

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