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SWBio DTP PhD project: Development of a platform for tracking the stability of advanced BioTherapeutics


Department of Biology & Biochemistry

About the Project

This project is one of a number that are in competition for funding from the South West Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (SWBio DTP) https://www.swbio.ac.uk/.

The DTP offers an interdisciplinary research training programme delivered by a consortium comprising the Universities of Bath, Bristol and Exeter, Cardiff University and Rothamsted Research, alongside six regional associate partners: Marine Biological Association, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Swansea University, UCB Pharma, University of the West of England and SETsquared Bristol.

All SWBio DTP projects will follow a structured 4-year PhD model, combining traditional project-focussed studies with a taught first year which includes directed rotation projects.

+++ Studentships are available for entry in October 2021 - please see the ’Funding Notes’ below and https://www.swbio.ac.uk/programme/eligibility/ for information on eligibility +++

SUPERVISORY TEAM:

Lead supervisor (Academic): Dr Christopher Pudney, University of Bath, Centre for Therapeutic Innovation () https://researchportal.bath.ac.uk/en/persons/christopher-pudney
Lead supervisor (Associate Partner): Prof Steve Conlan, Swansea University, Institute of Life Science https://www.swansea.ac.uk/staff/medicine/research/conlan-r-s/
Co-supervisors: Prof Jody Mason (Bath) and Dr Lewis Francis (Swansea)

OVERVIEW OF THE RESEARCH:

The project involves developing a new platform for detecting the stability of biopharmaceuticals. Biopharmaceuticals are some of the most successful drugs in the world. This success has largely been built on the use of monoclonal antibodies. More recently new developments in antibody drug conjugates have led to six+ new regulatory approvals and Exosomes (Exo), and Exosome Mimetics (self-assembled filter-fractionated nano-cellular products (Exo(M)) are poised to deliver the next wave of major advances.

One of the major challenges in developing biopharmaceuticals is their stability. Compared to small molecule drugs, biopharmaceuticals can suffer major stability issues and these can often prevent a promising candidate from being a usable drug.

We have developed novel approaches to detecting antibody stability (e.g. Knight et al. 2020. Biochem. J. https://doi.org/10.1042/BCJ20200580). The student will apply and develop these cutting-edge biophysical approaches to be used with more advanced biopharmaceuticals including ADCs and Exo(M)s. This platform would be a step-change in how the stability of biopharmaceuticals are assessed with direct and immediate industrial relevance and interest.

The student will gain a detailed education in advanced biophysics and biochemistry and in the context of a truly industrially relevant project. The student will be trained in a range of biophysical approaches including fluorescence spectroscopy, atomic force microscopy and nanovesicle flow cytometry. The project has been designed to be flexible, to suite changes in working patterns due to coronavirus and so we anticipate part of the project would not need to be lab based if the situation requires.

The supervisory team spans a range of disciplines from biopharmaceutical development, analytical biochemistry and biophysics. The student will have the opportunity to experience the research environments in both Bath and Swansea, leveraging the unique resources of both environments. We anticipate the student will have the opportunity to participate in national and international conference attendance as well as be involved with industrial partner interactions. Moreover, the project is very likely to generate new Intellectual Property, which we would actively seek to commercialise.

APPLICATIONS:

Applicants must have obtained, or be about to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in an appropriate area of science or technology.

Informal enquiries are welcomed and should be addressed to the lead supervisor.

Enquiries about the application process should be addressed to .

Formal applications should be submitted on the University of Bath’s online application form for a PhD in Biosciences: https://samis.bath.ac.uk/urd/sits.urd/run/siw_ipp_lgn.login?process=siw_ipp_app&code1=RDUBB-DT01&code2=0005

Please ensure that you quote the supervisor’s name and project title in the ‘Your research interests’ section. You may apply for more than one project if you wish but you should submit a separate personal statement relevant to each one.

If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national with settled or pre-settled status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme, please upload documentary evidence with your application.

More information about applying for a PhD at Bath may be found on our website https://www.bath.ac.uk/guides/how-to-apply-for-doctoral-study/.

Funding Notes

Studentships cover tuition fees at the ‘Home’ level, research/training costs and a stipend (£15,285 p.a., 2020/21 rate) for 3.5 years.

The main categories of candidates normally eligible for 'Home' fees are:
UK nationals*
Irish nationals living in the UK/Ireland
Applicants with settled or pre-settled* status in the UK under the EU Settlement Scheme
Applicants with indefinite leave to enter/remain in the UK

* must have lived in the UK/EEA/Switzerland continuously since September 2018.

Those not meeting the nationality and residency requirements to be treated as a ‘Home’ student may apply for a limited number of full studentships for international students.

References

Knight et al. 2020. Biochem. J. https://doi.org/10.1042/BCJ20200580

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