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PhD student, to identify and characterize inhibitors of carbohydrate modifying enzymes to generate a new type of anti-viral molecule

   Faculty of Science

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  Dr Zach Armstrong  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The Faculty of Science and the Leiden Institute of Chemistry are looking for a:

PhD student, to identify and characterize inhibitors of carbohydrate modifying enzymes to generate a new type of anti-viral molecule

Project Outline:

Human cells are coated with a dense array of carbohydrates, that are attached to proteins and lipids, termed the glycocalyx. The glycocalyx mediates cell-to-cell adhesion, signaling, immune cell maturation and pathogen invasion. Modification of the glycocalyx sugars, through acetylation, sulfation, and methylation, can have profound roles in cell-to-cell signaling and pathogen invasion.

This research project will focus on the biochemistry of human and viral enzymes that modify glycocalyx sugars and the discovery inhibitors for the same enzymes. This will involve protein production and purification, high-throughput inhibitor screening, enzyme kinetics, organic synthesis and may include structural biology of enzymes and their complexes (X-ray crystallography). The PhD student must be motivated, flexible, communicative, able to work in both organic and biochemistry labs, and learn protein production methods and enzymology techniques.

Selection Criteria

  • Masters degree in organic chemistry, or biochemistry
  • Proven interest in protein biochemistry
  • Proficient in English
  • Excellent communication skills 

Our organisation

The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are committed to expand fundamental knowledge by curiosity and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organised in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2.300 staff and more than 5.000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

The chemistry and life science research in the Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC) is organized around two major research areas: ‘Chemical Biology’ and ‘Energy & Sustainability’. The institute’s research themes illustrate the central position of chemistry between biology, medicine and physics. The various research topics carried out within these themes are ideal for executing interdisciplinary research.

For more information, see and

Terms and conditions 

We offer a full-time position for initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility the appointment will be extended by a further three years. Salary range from € 2.434 to € 3.111 gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness.


Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


Enquiries can be made to Dr. Zach Armstrong ([Email Address Removed])


To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to Mrs. Jessica van Krimpen, e-mail: [Email Address Removed]. Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents quoting the vacancy number:

  • Letter of motivation addressed to Dr. Zach Armstrong, including a statement why you are suited for this position
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Transcripts of bachelor and master curriculum courses, including grades
  • Three references, including names, affiliations and email addresses

Only applications received no later than 22 February 2022 can be considered.

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