Fully Funded PhD Research Studentship Mechanisms of S-Adenosyl Methionine (SAM) : Dependent Radical Enzymes

Faculty of Engineering

(3 years)

Division of Process and Environmental Engineering

New targets for bacterial infection are urgently required, as is evident from the rapid resistance to traditional antibiotics.  Reports on the increasing prevalence of MRSA and C. difficile in our hospitals and XDR (extreme drug resistant) tuberculosis in African countries are all too familiar. Challenge in designing novel antibiotics comes in targeting systems that are unique to bacteria, yet crucial to their survival. The SAM (S-adenosyl methionine) radical enzyme superfamily represents an important class of radical enzymes responsible for vitamin and cofactor synthesis, RNA methylation and other core processes for bacterial survival, especially under anaerobic conditions. Potentially dangerous pathogens all contain SAM-radical sequences, making this class of enzymes a target with good potential for the development of new drugs.

Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD studentship to join the growing Biomechanism Engineering research team based in the Research Division of Process and Environmental Engineering (Faculty of Engineering) at the University of Nottingham, a global top 75 University. The student will work in a dynamic research environment and as part of an interdisciplinary team of researchers working towards a more complete understanding and utilisation of biochemical processes for a range of applications.

The student will design and undertake both quantum chemical and molecular dynamics computations to better understand both structural features common to the workings of SAM radical enzymes and the specific mechanisms involved in newly identified members of this class. The student will also utilise statistical approaches in extracting information from genetic and structural datasets to develop generalised predictions for SAM radical enzyme mechanisms, and present the research locally and at international conferences. Training in experiments, theory and research methodology will be provided.

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Requirements of the studentship:

i)     Students should have, or expect to obtain, a first-class or good 2:1 honours degree, or a distinction or high merit at MSc level (or international equivalent), in chemistry, biochemistry, computational chemistry, chemical engineering, biochemical engineering or closely related disciplines such as computer science, physics or mathematics, with relevant background.

ii)    Students should be able to demonstrate an interest in biochemical mechanisms and computational modelling, and should have excellent written and oral presentation skills. Previous experience with statistical analysis, quantum chemistry, molecular dynamics and/or software tools such as Gromacs and Gaussian would be beneficial.

The studentship will cover full PhD tuition fees and a tax free stipend for three years (£13,590 for the 2012-13 academic year), restricted to UK/EU students. The studentship is expected to start in September 2013, or as early as possible after this date.

Informal enquiries prior to making an application may be addressed to Dr Anna Croft, email: [email protected].

To make an application, please send a covering letter stating clearly how you fulfil the requirements of the studentship, your research interests and include a CV, an academic transcript, and the names and addresses of two academic referees, to [email protected], via the apply button below.

Please quote ref. ENG/679. The position will remain open until filled.

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