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Organic/Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Biology


Project Description

A fully funded 3.5-year PhD studentship in the area of organic/medicinal chemistry and molecular biology is available in the Department of Natural Sciences, Lancaster University, commencing in October 2020. This is an interdisciplinary project that will focus on organic/medicinal chemistry combined with cellular/molecular biology – specifically, new derivatives of cubane will be synthesised and then tested for anti-cancer activity. The project will be co-supervised by Dr Susannah Coote (Department of Chemistry) and Dr Sarah Allinson (Department of Biological and Life Sciences).

The research in Dr Susannah Coote’s group focuses on the development of new methods for the efficient preparation of “difficult-to-make” molecules (particularly four-membered rings and cubanes) for a variety of applications, including novel building blocks and fragments for drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry. For more information on the Coote group, see: https://susannahcoote.wordpress.com.

Dr Sarah Allinson’s research focuses around the cellular DNA damage response, including the base excision and single strand break repair pathways, in a range of human cell models and other eukaryotic organisms. More about the Allinson group’s interests can be seen at: http://www.research.lancs.ac.uk/portal/en/people/sarah-allinson

Project description:

There is a need within the pharmaceutical industry for novel building blocks with enhanced three-dimensional complexity. This project aims to design and synthesise new derivatives of cubane (for which the Coote group has specific expertise), then test them for anti-cancer activity using a combination of molecular and cellular biology approaches. This project will allow the extension of the Coote group’s synthetic cubanes work into medicinal chemistry applications, and the Allinson group to further develop their interest in translational applications within cancer biology.

During the course of this project, you will be trained in core practical techniques in synthetic organic chemistry and cellular/molecular biology, and will have the opportunity to further your knowledge through regular group meetings and seminars. You will have access to brand new facilities and equipment, including a new synthetic chemistry laboratory, NMR and IR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, X-ray crystallography and chiral HPLC, as well as recombinant protein production and enzyme activity and cytotoxicity assays.

Applicants will hold, or expect to receive, a 1st class or 2:1 UK BSc or Masters-level degree (or equivalent) in chemistry (or a closely-related discipline) and possess theoretical and practical skills commensurate with the undergraduate degree programme. The successful candidate will demonstrate a strong interest and relevant experience in organic chemistry, as well as an interest in biology/medicinal chemistry. Experience in cellular and/or molecular biology would be an advantage, but is not essential, as full training will be provided. In addition, enthusiasm to work in a laboratory environment, willingness to learn, a collaborative attitude, and excellent written and oral communication skills will be required.

We encourage informal e-mail enquiries before submitting an application, either to Dr Susannah Coote () or Dr Sarah Allinson ().

This PhD studentship is competitively funded, with one studentship available for five shortlisted projects. Therefore, applications (CV and a covering letter, including details of two academic referees) should be sent initially to Dr Susannah Coote () by 10 March 2020. After assessment of the applications, the strongest candidate will then be put forward to the final round on 20 March 2020, with the strongest candidate across the five projects being awarded the studentship.

The Department of Chemistry at Lancaster University provides a research environment that strongly supports the individual needs of each student, and promotes a healthy work-life balance. We are committed to the Athena Swan Charter, which recognises and celebrates good employment practice undertaken to address gender equality in higher education and research. Our commitment to these principles is reflected in our receipt of Athena Swan Awards (Bronze for the Department of Chemistry, Silver for the Department of Biological and Life Sciences).

Funding Notes

The studentships will cover fees at the UK/EU rate plus the standard maintenance stipend (£15,285 for 2020/2021).

How good is research at Lancaster University in Chemistry?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 12.00

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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