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PhD Studentship: Novel Scoring Methods for Interactions between Antibodies and Antigens


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  Prof Jonathan Essex  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

BBSRC Industrial CASE Award
UCB, Slough in collaboration with the
Department of Chemistry, University of Southampton

Project: Novel Scoring Methods for Interactions between Antibodies and Antigens
Professor Jonathan Essex (Southampton University), Dr Terry Baker (UCB), Dr Richard D Taylor (UCB), Dr Xiaofeng Liu (UCB)

This 4 year PhD research project, due to start in October 2016, is a collaboration between University of Southampton and UCB, a global biopharmaceutical company ( The doctoral student will be based at the University of Southampton in the group of Jonathan Essex but the training will include a 3-6 month placement spent at UCB, Slough. On successful completion, the candidate will receive a doctorate from the University of Southampton.

We intend to combine the latest free energy calculation methods and enhanced sampling molecular dynamics simulations to predict antibody conformations when bound to the target protein epitope, and to subsequently rank the different loop sequences by affinity. At UCB, we have accumulated a large body of experimental data from historical computational antibody designs, for a proof-of-concept target protein. These data will be used to validate the scoring method developed during the project to test for discrimination of known binding and non-binding antibody designs. This feedback will be used to iteratively improve the scoring method.
This studentship offers an excellent opportunity for a gifted individual to work on a significant problem in drug discovery, supported by experts in molecular simulation and pharmaceutical development. The candidate should have a first or upper second degree in biochemistry, chemistry, physics or a similar discipline. A familiarity with molecular modelling and computer programming would be useful additional experience. The successful candidate will gain experience in a variety of molecular simulation and free-energy methodologies in a drug discovery setting.

Funding Notes

This project is fully funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) at their standard stipend level of £14296 with an additional stipend of £4000 per annum provided by UCB. To be eligible for a full award, applicants must satisfy UK residency criteria (see


Applications for a PhD in Chemistry should be submitted online at

Please place Prof Essex'a name in the field for proposed supervisor.

General enquiries should be made to Professor Jonathan Essex: Any queries on the application process should be made to

Applications will be considered in the order that they are received, and the position will be considered filled when a suitable candidate has been identified

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