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Revealing the transport mechanism of P-glycoprotein using synthetic membrane mimetics

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

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  Prof Richard Callaghan, Dr P Beales, Dr S Calaghan  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Throughout the biological world, transporters known as a multi-drug pumps protect healthy cells against toxic chemicals. In humans, they protect sensitive tissues such as the brain and accelerate the removal of chemicals via the gut.

Unfortunately, many cancers use multi-drug pumps to confer resistance to chemotherapy. Despite considerable research, there are no effective blockers for multi-drug pumps and their actions continue to thwart cancer chemotherapy. One of the major limiting factors is our inability to understand how these pumps recognise so many drugs.

Our team has developed a new model for the drug-recognition by one of these multi-drug pumps, P-glycoprotein. We predict that P-glycoprotein extracts drugs directly from the membrane and transfers them to a central cavity that propels them from cells.

Our project will test this model and locate the drug recognition sites on P-glycoprotein, thereby revealing the features of drugs recognised by the pumps This has not yet been achieved because technology is not appropriate to investigate multi-drug pumps. To overcome this, we have developed synthetic nanosystems that mimic biological membranes.

These membrane mimics will allow us to understand drug recognition by P-glycoprotein and eventually develop inhibitors to restore cancer chemotherapy. These membrane mimics will benefit nanotechnology to repurpose cellular systems to advance areas such as drug delivery, biological remediation and nanorobots for industrial and environmental purposes.


You should hold a first degree equivalent to at least a UK upper-second class honours degree or a MSc degree in a relevant subject.

Applicants whose first language is not English must provide evidence that their English language is sufficient to meet the specific demands of their study. The Faculty of Biological Sciences minimum requirements in IELTS and TOEFL tests are:

  • British Council IELTS - score of 6.0 overall, with no element less than 5.5
  • TOEFL iBT - overall score of 87 with the listening and reading element no less than 20, writing element no less than 21 and the speaking element no less than 22.

How to apply:

To apply for this project applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application. 

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable).

To help us identify that you are applying for this studentship please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • When asked for source of funding please make it clear that you are applying for a "White Rose BBSRC DTP Studentship"
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert. You can be considered for up to 3 projects in total.

If you have any further queries regarding this opportunity, please contact [Email Address Removed]

Funding Notes

This opportunity is funded by the White Rose BBSRC DTP and will attract an annual tax-free stipend of £17,668 (based on the 2022/23 rate). The award will also cover academic fees. This opportunity is available to UK and International fee rated applicants. Please note that any expenses related to the relocation of international students to the UK (visa, insurance, NHS fees, flights, etc) would be their responsibility and are not covered by this award.

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