3 PhD Studentships: Molecular technologies in human health

University of Cambridge
November 30, 2023
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3 PhD Studentships: Molecular technologies in human health

Applications are invited for three studentships to be held at the Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry in the group of Professor Tuomas Knowles. The studentships are part of an active collaboration with the leading pharma company Novo Nordisk with the aim of developing and applying cutting-edge molecular technologies to key problems in human health. The research areas cover both biological chemistry and physical chemistry. The projects are highly interdisciplinary and an interest in working on major biomedical problems through approaches that bring together biological and physical chemistry is required. The projects are suitable both for biological chemists or students with a biology background wishing to apply their expertise to biophysical technologies, and for students with a background in physical chemistry or physics, wishing to apply physical approaches to important problems in the biomedical sciences.

Studentship 1: "Deciphering the rules for membrane permeability of therapeutic peptides." Peptides are a promising molecular format for the development of novel drug candidates. A critical step in the development of potential peptide drug candidates is ensuring the peptides of interest can penetrate cell membranes. The rules for membrane permeability, however, are poorly understood, in large part due to limitations in the efficiency of current testing approaches. This project aims to use large peptide libraries and high throughput microfluidics to discover the rules of membrane penetration and peptide targetting for future therapeutics. Prior experience with protein science and biochemistry would be an advantage for this project.

Studentship 2: "Addressing fundamental physicochemical properties of lipid nanoparticles at the single particle level with optofluidic microdevices." The project is focused on analysing the surface properties of lipid nanoparticles. Lipid nanoparticles are the enabling technology behind the genetic medicine revolution and are used to deliver nucleic acid cargos in a range of current and future applications. Little is known about their surface chemistry and how this changes in vivo and this project aims to address this critical gap. For this project, a prior experience with single molecule optical detection would be an advantage.

Studentship 3: "Multi-parameter drug formulation." The conditions used to formulate drugs have a critical importance for their bioavailability and stability, but searching the vast chemical space during formulation development remains slow and as such typically only small parts of the overall chemical space have been explored. This approach aims to bring next generation technologies to this field, in particular ultra high throughput droplet microfluidics, to allow formulation space to be explored more widely than ever before independently of the drug modality in scope.

Applicants must have (or expect to obtain) at least the equivalent of a UK upper second-class Master's degree in chemistry, biochemistry, physics or engineering. The studentships will commence in October 2024 and will provide a maintenance grant at the UKRI national rate and tuition fees for 3.5 years.

To apply, please submit an application through the University Applicant Portal: https: // www. postgraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/pcchpdpch for the course "PhD in Chemistry", naming Prof. Tuomas Knowles as potential supervisor.

Interviews are likely to be in mid-December or early January.

For any queries about this studentship, please contact Prof. Knowles by email at [email protected].

Please quote reference MA39142 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.


Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry






25 October 2023

Closing date

30 November 2023

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