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  Studying the nitrogen cycle by advanced NMR methods


   York Biomedical Research Institute

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  Prof S Duckett  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Nitrogen is present in our environment in a wide variety of forms that include organic nitrogen, ammonium, nitrite, nitrate, nitrous oxide, nitric oxide and nitrogen gas. In this project will we seek to improve their NMR detectability so that we can explore their role in chemical synthesis. In order to do this, we must learn from positron emission tomography (PET) where long-lived radionuclides are rapidly embedded into suitable molecular scaffolds to create the radiopharmaceuticals that convey a diagnostic response. Thus, if we take nitrite, we can utilise it to create a diazonium ion, via NO+, that we can then convert into a range of pharmaceuticals. However, to make these reactions visible to NMR (and later MRI) we must first magnetize the nitrite. We have achieved this in a few seconds through a process called hyperpolarisation and the resulting signals for our precursor 15NO2- proved to be several thousand times of times larger than normal. Furthermore, its signal remained visible for several minutes. Consequently, we can image directly the conversion of nitrite into the pharmaceutical we seek to prepare to optimise yield. We will expand the range of these agents to include amino acids, the building blocks of life and the antiretroviral Zidovudine. This project will see the student develop these methods to create a versatile tool that enables the fate of such nitrogen containing synthons to monitored as they are converted into key biochemicals. Opportunities will exist to test whether these processes can be monitored by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) in order to link to future clinical diagnosis.

The York Biomedical Research Institute at the University of York is committed to recruiting extraordinary future scientists regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, religion/belief, marital status, pregnancy and maternity, or career pathway to date. We understand that commitment and excellence can be shown in many ways and have built our recruitment process to reflect this. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds, particularly those underrepresented in science, who have curiosity, creativity and a drive to learn new skills.


Chemistry (6) Medicine (26)

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 About the Project