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PhD position in Organic and Supramolecular Chemistry: synthesizing peptide-derived molecular knots for potential applications in biological systems

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Fabien Cougnon
  • Application Deadline
    Applications accepted all year round

Project Description

A PhD position is available in the group of Dr. Fabien Cougnon at the University of Geneva (http://www.unige.ch/sciences/chiorg/cougnon/research). The primary focus of the research group is to synthesize peptide-derived molecular knots for potential applications in biological systems, such as in vivo delivery of therapeutic peptides.

Molecular knots are extremely difficult to produce using the current methods of chemistry, and their potential applications constitute an entirely unexplored field. In our laboratory, we are developing new strategies to produce easily such complex architectures. The goal of the PhD project will be to synthesize water-soluble molecular building blocks that have the ability to fold spontaneously into a knot. These building blocks will be designed to mimic as closely as possible the chemical structures of natural peptides; ultimately we would like to design a peptide sequence that folds into a knot. The formation of knots constitute a unique way to control molecular folding into specific three−dimensional shapes, and the advantages of the knotted shape will then be evaluated in biological systems.
The student will gain expertise in organic and peptide synthesis, and learn to master various methods of characterization, notably NMR, HPLC, MS and CD. There will also be opportunities to learn how to perform biological assays as the project develops.

Applicants need to be highly motivated and willing to lead a research project independently. A good knowledge of organic chemistry is necessary, and interest for research at the interface with biological and/or materials chemistry will be beneficial. Interests in programming could also be a plus. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled. English is the main language spoken in the department and knowledge of French is not required.

Funding Notes

No restrictions. Full funding is secured (standard PhD salary).

References

1. N. Ponnuswamy, F. B. L. Cougnon, G. D. Pantoş and J. K. M. Sanders, Science (2012) 338, 783.
2. F. B. L. Cougnon, N. Ponnuswamy, G. D. Pantoş and J. K. M. Sanders, J. Am. Chem. Soc. (2014) 136, 8243.

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