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New chemistry for RNA-targeting therapeutics


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  Dr Eugen Stulz  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Supervisory Team:   Ysobel Baker and Eugen Stulz

Project description

We are seeking a highly motivated individual to join our team as a fully funded PhD student developing new chemistry for RNA-targeting therapeutics.

Antisense oligonucleotides (ASOs) are emerging as powerful precision medicines for life-threatening diseases. ASOs are short synthetic analogues of DNA that bind to RNA in a sequence specific manner, regulating gene expression and altering the production of disease-associated proteins. By targeting RNA, we can start to treat life-limiting conditions that cannot be addressed by conventional small molecule drugs, including cancers and inherited genetic diseases.

Whilst this approach is promising, the current generation of ASOs suffer from poor efficacy, bioavailability, and potential toxicity, preventing their wider spread adoption. Advances in diagnostic technologies mean more and more untreatable diseases are coming within reach of ASOs, and new ASO chemistry is urgently needed to overcome these limitations.

This project will develop a new class of ASO analogues that are designed to bind their target RNA with higher affinity and selectivity than the existing technology, potentially reducing the required dose and likelihood of toxic side effects. It will involve the development of new synthetic routes to prepare the ASO analogues, biophysical studies to investigate how well the new compounds interact with target RNA, and evaluation of their biological activity in cell-based assays.

We are looking for a student who enjoys organic synthesis and is keen to work at the chemistry biology interface. This is an interdisciplinary project and you will receive training in a range of organic and chemical biology techniques during your studentship. These will include synthetic organic chemistry, solid-phase oligonucleotide and peptide synthesis, biophysical and biochemical techniques, and biological assays in cell culture.

Entry Requirements

A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent) in chemistry or allied subjects/relevant disciplines.

Closing date: 31st October 2022

Funding: For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £16,062 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.

How To Apply

Applications should be made online. Select programme type (Research), 2022/23, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, next page select “PhD Chemistry (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Ysobel Baker

Applications should include:

Curriculum Vitae

Two reference letters

Apply online:

For further information about the project, please contact Eugen Stulz: For general queries about the application process, please contact: [Email Address Removed]

The School of Chemistry is committed to promoting equality, diversity inclusivity as demonstrated by our Athena SWAN award. We welcome all applicants regardless of their gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or age, and will give full consideration to applicants seeking flexible working patterns and those who have taken a career break. The University has a generous maternity policy, onsite childcare facilities, and offers a range of benefits to help ensure employees’ well-being and work-life balance. The University of Southampton is committed to sustainability and has been awarded the Platinum EcoAward.

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