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PhD in Chemistry - Developing Quantum Dot surface chemistry for detecting and monitoring bacterial infection

   College of Science and Engineering

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  Dr W Peveler  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a multidrug resistant pathogen and a major cause of sepsis and mortality in patients who are catheterised or on artificial ventilation (especially during the pandemic). We aim to create a rapid test for P aeruginosa contamination/infection via detection of virulence factor lasB, an elastase being actively studied as a biomarker and drug target.[1]

Fluorescent quantum dot (QD) nanoparticles provide a versatile sensing platform for the simple and sensitive detection of a wide range of biomolecules.[2] By combining QD surface chemistry and enzyme-cleavable peptides we can create fluorescent sensor systems for multiple enzymes (as virulence factors) in a single, rapid (‘just-add-sample’) optical measurement.[3] The surface chemistry of the nanoparticle is all important to generate high sensitivity,[4] and in collaboration with the Köhnke group in Glasgow, and with the Algar group in UBC, Canada, we will combine chemical biology and molecular/nano-engineering to optimise our QD technology for detecting lasB and related virulence factors from different P. aeruginosa strains, and work towards clinical applications.

[1] Kaya, Köhnke, Hirsch et al., Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2022, 61, e202112295; [2] Algar, Peveler et al., Chem. Rev. 2021, 121, 9243-9358; [3] Peveler & Algar, ACS Chem Biol. 2018, 13, 1752–1766; [4] Jeen & Algar, Bioconjugate Chem. 2018, 29 3783–3792; Algar, Peveler et al. Langmuir 2019, 35, 7067–7091 

We are an inclusive group who apply chemistry to a diverse set of sensing challenges. This project will involve synthetic chemistry (small molecule and peptide synthesis), nanocrystal synthesis, and enzymatic assays monitored with fluorescence spectroscopy; with training in a wide range of different skills. Candidates should be a creative and enthusiastic experimentalists, and have excellent communication and organisational skills. Some experience of multi-step synthetic organic/materials chemistry would be an advantage. Interested candidates are encouraged to email Will ([Email Address Removed]) with a CV and brief cover letter to express interest.

It is the University of Glasgow’s mission to foster an inclusive climate, which ensures equality in our working, learning, research and teaching environment. We strongly endorse the principles of Athena SWAN, including a supportive and flexible working environment, with commitment from all levels of the organisation in promoting gender equality. As an Athena SWAN Bronze Award holder, the School of Chemistry has equality, diversity and inclusion at its heart, and actively supports applications from all sections of society. More details of the School’s Athena SWAN activities can be found here:

How to Apply: Please gather the documents described in the “How to Apply Section” and then click the apply now link. Include William Peveler as supervisor and the title of this PhD opportunity.

Funding Notes

Funding is available to cover tuition fees for UK applicants for 3.5 years, as well as paying a stipend at the Research Council rate (estimated £18,022 for session 23/24). Exceptional international candidates should get in touch with a CV before submitting an application to explore whether there is a possibility for additional support.
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