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Protein nanocompartments for advanced enzymatic catalysis (PhD in Chemical and Synthetic Biology)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round
  • Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding
    Awaiting Funding Decision/Possible External Funding

Project Description

The University of Sydney is looking for outstanding candidates who are looking to apply for a PhD position in chemical and synthetic biology, in the group of Dr Yu Heng Lau ( This posting is for applicants looking for supervisor support if they wish to apply for scholarship programs only.
Note: Northcote Trust PhD scholarships for UK residents to undertake a PhD in Australia are now open until mid-August! Contact Yu Heng if you are a UK resident interested in applying. (

This project involves the chemical and biological modification of encapsulins, bacterial proteins that spontaneously assemble into hollow ~30 nm shells (see Nat. Commun. 2018, 9, 1311). A unique feature of encapsulins is their ability to house other molecules, in a targeted binding process that is mediated by a simple peptide tag. These projects will involve creating nano-sized reaction vessels by functionalising the interior of these shells with synthetic molecules. These encapsulin compartments will then be probed in a range of functional assays to establish new applications in catalysis.

Prospective candidates should contact Dr Yu Heng Lau for further information.

The applicant should provide:
1. CV
2. academic transcript
3. personal statement, explaining why they are interested in the PhD project
4. contact details of two academic referees

Funding Notes

Applicants must hold a Bachelor degree in Science (chemistry or biology related major) and have an excellent academic track record. The applicant should also have some prior research laboratory experience, eg. an Honours degree (First Class), a Master's degree in Science, research assistant job, or equivalent.

Applicants must have a background in chemistry, molecular biology, biochemistry, or synthetic biology. Applicants must also demonstrate a desire to build skills in organic chemistry, molecular biology, protein biochemistry and nanotechnology.
Applicants must also meet the University requirements for English language proficiency.

Finally, applicants are strongly encouraged to apply for independent scholarships.


Prokaryotic nanocompartments form synthetic organelles in a eukaryote
Y. H. Lau, T. W. Giessen, W. J. Altenburg, P. A. Silver
Nat. Commun. 2018, 9, 1311. doi:10.1038/s41467-018-03768-x

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