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  MSc by Research: Discovery and evaluation of proximity inducing molecules to understand diseases of the Central Nervous System

   School of Life Sciences

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  Dr William Farnaby  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

In the UK alone, neurodegenerative diseases will affect 2 million people by 2051, have very limited effective treatments and cost the economy £26.3Bn annually. The proportion of late-stage clinical failures due to lack of efficacy is much higher in central nervous system (CNS) diseases, suggesting pre-clinical therapeutic hypotheses are poorly validated (Kesselheim 2015). 

The Farnaby group, located in the new University of Dundee Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation, is focused on the discovery and investigation of chemical probes to help the understanding and treatment of diseases of the central nervous system. Specifically, the Farnaby Group is focused on using an emerging approach to target disease causing proteins in neurons, whereby small molecules induce the proximity of proteins, causing one of those proteins to alter the cellular function of the other. This has been best exemplified in the context of targeted protein degradation, where several molecules have entered clinical trials, mainly for cancers. Dr. Farnaby and colleagues at the Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation in Dundee, along with others in the field, have pioneered methods for the discovery of targeted protein degrader molecules.   

Current work within the group is multi-disciplinary with a core focus in cellular chemical biology, chemoproteomics and organic synthesis. There will be scope within this project, depending on the interests of the candidate, to develop new cellular assays, characterise the interaction of novel small moelcules with target proteins  and/or apply organic synthesis to make novel proximity inducing molecules.  

Due to the multi-disciplinary approach the student will learn a broad set of lab skills across the chemical biology toolbox. Students interested to learn more about the project are encouraged to reach out at  and can see more about the Farnaby group and the Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation here and here

Please see our website for further details on the programme:

Life Sciences MSc by Research MSc by Research (Postgraduate) : Study : University of Dundee

Please note before submitting your application that you must list your top three project choices in the Research Proposal section of the application form.

You apply for this course using our Direct Application System. Once you've signed up for an account you'll be asked to search for a course.

To find Life Science MSc by Research you should select the following options:

· Course type: Research Postgraduate

· Keyword: Life

When you complete your form, you should include your top 3 project choices, 2 letters of reference, uploaded under "Other Information" > "Supporting documents" and a personal statement. Failure to do so will delay your application.

Please note when submitting an application, please note our intake deadlines on the ‘how to apply’ section of our website 

Biological Sciences (4) Chemistry (6)


Fang et al, Progress and Challenges in Targeted Protein Degradation for Neurodegenerative Disease Therapy, J. Med. Chem. 2022, 65, 17, 11454–11477
Mullard, Targeted Protein Degraders crowd into the clinic, Nat Rev Drug Discov, 2021; 20, 247-250 doi: 10.1038/d41573-021-00052-4
Kofink, C., Trainor, N., Mair, B. et al. A selective and orally bioavailable VHL-recruiting PROTAC achieves SMARCA2 degradation in vivo. Nat Commun 13, 5969 (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-33430-6

Popow, Farnaby et al, Targeting Cancer with small molecule pan-KRAS degraders, 2023.D: 10.1101/2023.10.24.563163

Where will I study?

 About the Project