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Development of novel biocatalytic processes for the manufacturing of food flavours and fragrances(Advert Reference: HLS/DRFAPP7P/60596)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr D Castagnolo
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

We are pleased to invite applications for a 4 year-BBSRC Industrial CASE PhD Studentship based at Northumbria University Newcastle and in collaboration with Prozomix Ltd.

The studentship will commence in October 2015.

In this fully-funded 4-year BBSRC ICASE project, we aim to develop a novel biocatalytic approach for the manufacturing of enantiomerically pure volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs). Foods and beverages contain, generally in trace amounts, a number of different VSCs possessing a strong and powerful odour and contributing to both agreeable and disagreeable flavours and fragrances. From a chemical point of view, VSCs are often chemically labile and, as a result, their manufacture can be challenging. VSCs can exist as chiral isomers and their olfactory perception may depend on their diastereomeric and enantiomeric form. For example the (R)-enantiomer of 3-thio-1-hexanol has a tropical fruit aroma, whereas its (S)-enantiomer has a sulphureous and herbaceous smell. The stereodifferentiation of chiral VSCs has a great impact on the flavour and quality of foods and thus the identification of methods for the production of enantiomerically pure ingredients is highly desirable.

The proposed project aims to develop a sustainable biocatalytic approach for the manufacturing of new VSCs. In particular, the PhD candidate will explore the enantioselective synthesis of mercapto-carboxylic acids and amides using nitrilase and nitrile hydratase enzymes, respectively. Novel chemoenzymatic and enzyme-enzymatic cascade approaches involving monoamine oxidases will be developed as well.

The student will be trained in techniques pertinent to the project such as organic synthesis, enzymatic synthesis and biotransformations, NMR spectroscopy, chromatography and mass spectrometry. In addition, the PhD candidate will be trained in aspects of the discovery, development and manufacturing of novel biocatalysts in collaboration with the industrial partner, Prozomix Ltd. Regular placements at Prozomix Ltd will be incorporated as part of the project, so providing research experience in a commercial environment.

The project is due to commence October 2015 and is open to UK/EU* nationals only due to the nature of the funding.
*Applicants must be UK/EU nationals who have resided in the UK since at least 1 September 2012 in order to qualify for full funding.

Applicants should hold a first or upper second class honours degree (in a relevant subject) from a British higher education institution, or equivalent. Applicants, who have a first class or 2:1 or equivalent honours degree, or MChem or MSci in organic, pharmaceutical or food chemistry subjects or biochemistry, are encouraged to apply. Experience in catalysis and biocatalysis is desirable but not mandatory.

Informal enquiries relating to the project and/or suitability should be directed to Dr Daniele Castagnolo([email protected])

To apply, contact PGR Admission to request the appropriate application form, quoting the advert reference above, via email to [email protected] or by using the application link on this page.

Please include the following with your application:

- Academic CV

- Official academic transcripts + a personal statement (max 2 A4 pages) outlining your career intentions and your suitability for the project

- Contact details for two suitable referees

Funding Notes

The 4-year full-time studentship provides full support for UK/EU tuition fees and an annual tax-free stipend at RCUK rates (currently £13,863; in addition a 2,000£ per year bonus will be provided by Prozomix).

The project is open to UK/EU* nationals only due to the nature of the funding.


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