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PhD Studentship: Constructing a new LEGO® set of protein building blocks

   School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

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  Dr D Fulton  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project


Just as LEGO blocks can be assembled into complex structures, there has been much interest in using nature’s macromolecules as building blocks for the synthesis of well-defined and functional nanostructures. Proteins make potentially exciting building blocks because they display powerful functional properties, however, the assembly of proteins is challenging on account of their chemical complexity and the lack of general reactions that can efficiently link them into larger structures. At Newcastle we have shown (Chem, 20206, 3132–3151) how the interaction between a protein called Caf1 can be modulated to drive protein assembly and disassembly. The aim of this project is to build upon these findings and develop Caf1 as a building block for the construction of well-defined structures. We will expand the palette of Caf1-based building blocks through structural mutagenesis, and through kinetic and thermodynamic studies understand how the mutations influence the protein-protein interaction. With this understanding, we will then use our palette of protein building blocks to build more complex architectures e.g. functionalized polymers, cyclic oligomers. The project will appeal to those interested in applying ideas in self-assembly to solve challenges at the chemistry-biology interface, and will provide training in protein synthesis/characterization, biophysics, chemical kinetics and methods to characterize nanostructures. The project will be performed in the groups of Dr David Fulton (Chemistry) and Prof Jeremy Lakey (Biosciences Institute) at Newcastle University. Applications welcome from students with background in chemistry or any area of bioscience. Start date would be September 2022, but applicants who could start in January or April 2023 are also welcome.

Number Of Awards


Start Date

September 2022.

Award Duration

3.5 years.


This project is funded by the William Henry Beck legacy endowment and the generous bequest of Dr W Oliver Ord.


Dr David A Fulton (Chemistry - Newcastle University)

Professor Jeremy H Lakey (Biosciences Institute - Newcastle University)

Eligibility Criteria

A Master’s level degree in chemistry or bioscience (1st Class or 2:1 minimum or equivalent) is required.

The award is available to applicants with a Home fee status only.

How To Apply

You must apply through the University’s online postgraduate application system. To do this please ‘Create a new account’.

All relevant fields should be completed, but fields marked with a red asterisk in the application portal must to be completed. The following information will help us to process your application. You will need to:

•          insert the programme code 8100F in the programme of study section

•          select ‘PhD Chemistry - Chemistry’ as the programme of study

•          insert the studentship code SNES227 in the studentship/partnership reference field

•          attach a covering letter and CV. The covering letter must state the title of the studentship, quote reference code SNES227 and state how your interests and experience relate to the project

•          attach degree transcripts and certificates and, if English is not your first language, a copy of your English language qualifications.

Contact Details

For informal enquiries and further details potential applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their application with [Email Address Removed].

Funding Notes

Full Home tuition fees and annual living allowance of £16,062 (subject to minor change)
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