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Understanding enzyme surface kinetics via high content screening methodology

   School of Natural and Environmental Sciences

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  Prof William Willats, Dr F Cuskin  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Enzymes are crucial ingredients in laundry and dishwashing detergents, driving a range of stain removal, cleaning and other consumer benefits. The understanding of enzyme-surface kinetics is a key parameter to drive enzyme performance and as such is needed to design washing detergents that operate in the most eco-friendly cycles.

This project seeks to develop a state-of-art approach with high content screening & imaging based on flow cells, as well as data modelling, to measure enzyme surface adsorption and desorption onto relevant surfaces in real time in presence of detergent ingredients. This will enable to screen multiple cleaning conditions in an automated manner to i) deliver enhanced performance of current enzymes through detergent formula modifications and ii) to design new enzymes with desired surface kinetics to achieve novel benefits.

Project objectives

  1. To develop a high content screening approach to study enzyme adsorption/desorption kinetics on fabrics and hard surfaces by imaging fluorescent-tagged detergent enzymes (e.g., protease, lipase, phosphodiesterase and amylase) in a flow cell array using time-lapse confocal microscopy in the presence of detergent compositions.
  2. To construct a performance model linked to adsorption/desorption kinetics, intrinsic activity, substrate specificity and in-wash stability to predict the end performance in broader formulation space for the lead enzyme types.

The student will be trained in specialist techniques for this project at the Willats and Cuskin labs and Newcastle University’s Bioimaging Unit, such as fluorescence microscopy to localise and track polymer-based soils adhered onto soiled items as well as microarray polymer profiling and epitope depletion.

The student will be part of the BISCOP (Bioscience for Sustainable Consumer Products) Collaborative Training Partnership (CTP) cohort and will participate in CTP and Newcastle University PGR training programs. In addition to this, the student will also benefit from a combined industrial and academic supervisory team. The project will include development of state-of-the-art analytical techniques that will transform the way we innovate on enzymes. Since P&G and Newcastle University are in proximity, the student will have the ability to work seamlessly across academic and industrial labs. The training from this project will also help to develop a broad range of skills that will be beneficial for student to accomplish a successful career in either academia or industry. The student will also be attracted to play a vital role on development of sustainable technologies that will transform the performance of everyday household products used by billons of people across the globe.

How to apply:

  • Candidates wishing to apply for a studentship must apply directly to this E-mail address [Email Address Removed] by 5th Dec 2022 by sending 4 documents:
  1. Current CV: [maximum 2 pages] – this needs to include qualifications & two references.
  2. A personal statement (maximum 500 words).
  3. A completed BISCOP CTP Equal Opportunities Monitoring form
  4. A cover note indicating which project within the CTP you are applying for as their first choice and whether interested in any of the other projects.
  • Name all the documents with your ‘Name and Type of Form’ e.g., Joe Bloggs CV, Joe Bloggs Personal Statement.
  • For more information, please see the Policies & Procedures for applicants.
  • In the meantime, if you have any issues or questions, please contact [Email Address Removed]

More information about the BiSCoP CTP

This studentship is part of the second cohort of the BiSCoP CTP (Bioscience for Sustainable Consumer Products Collaborative Training Partnership), a BBSRC-funded inclusive, collaborative environment for high quality doctoral training that will prepare over 30 students with the knowledge and skills needed for successful careers at the forefront of global bioscience. This will help ensure the UK maintains a leadership position in bioscience with improved translation of frontier research into economic and societal impact.

The BiSCoP CTP will be an outstanding environment for PhD research between Durham, Northumbria, Newcastle and other UK universities, biotech company Prozomix and consumer products company Procter & Gamble. The second cohort of 11 PhD students starting in October 2023 will embark upon a 4-year research training programme with modules in hands-on lean innovation, an Accredited Certificate in Strategic Management and Leadership Practice (a Durham University mini-MBA), Intellectual Property, at least a 3-month placement (P&G UK or USA innovation centre or Prozomix UK) and other events.

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