Competition Funded Studentship: Haptic Interaction for Molecular Docking

Deadline: 30 April 2014.
Start Date: October 2014.
Supervisory Team: Dr Stephen Laycock, Email:

The Project: 
Proteins are molecular machines involved in every biological process. A fair amount is known concerning their structures, although relatively little is known about their flexibility. The understanding of the processes involved in the binding of small molecules (ligands) to proteins is crucial for our understanding of protein mechanism. We can attempt to understand the forces involved by placing the ligand at various positions from a protein’s binding site, in a process known as “docking”. Docking is often combined with molecular graphics software so one can see the relative locations and orientations of the protein and ligand. This can be enhanced by the use of a haptic device where the user can also feel the forces of interaction [1]. This has great advantages as it couples our sense of sight with our sense of touch (haptic system) and creates an intuitive approach that has often been a path to discovery at the human level.

The project will involve the development of advanced haptics software for molecular docking. This software will be aimed at those that work in the pharmaceutical industries in computer-aided structure-based drug design. This work will build on our previous research in this area which has resulted in two software tools. The first enables the user to explore rigid molecules by interacting with the solvent accessible surface [2]. The second enables the user to apply forces to a flexible model of a protein [3]. For more information please visit

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Entry Requirements: 
1st Class degree in Computing Science and background in Computer Graphics.

This project is in a competition for two funded 3 year studentships within the School of Computing Sciences, one of which is funded by the University and the other by EPSRC.

Funding for the studentship from EPSRC is available to successful candidates who meet the UK Research Council eligibility criteria including the 3-year UK residency requirements. These requirements are detailed in the EPSRC eligibility guide which can be found at In most cases UK and EU nationals who have been ordinarily resident in the UK for 3 years prior to the start of the course are eligible for a full-award. Other EU nationals may qualify for a fees only award. All candidates should check to confirm their eligibility for funding.

An annual stipend of £13,726 will be available to the successful candidate.

Making Your Application:

Please apply via the University’s online application system, by clicking on the Apply button below.

NB Applications are processed as soon as they are received, so early application is encouraged.

To discuss the application process or particular projects, please contact the: Admissions Office, email: or telephone +44 (0)1603 591709. 

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