PhD Studentship Analysis of membrane protein structure and their interactions by synchrotron circular dichroism spectroscopy

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:   Friday 19 July 2013
Reference:  257513BJ

Supervisors: Dr Philip Williamson, School of Biological Sciences, Southampton University, Southampton, SO17 1BJ

Prof Giuliano Siligardi, Dr Rohanah Hussain, Diamond Light Source Ltd, Diamond House, Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 0DE

Applications are invited for a fully funded PhD studentship. The aim of this project is to develop synchrotron radiation circular dichroism (SRCD) techniques for the analysis of integral membrane proteins, probing their structure and interactions within the lipid bilayer. The project draws on Southampton’s expertise in the biophysical and functional analysis of integral membrane proteins and Diamond’s expertise the analysis of protein conformation and protein interactions through the application of SRCD.  

The provision of a joint studentship between Southampton University and Diamond Light Source would enable the applicants to investigate further the structural analysis and interactions between integral membrane proteins which represent significant challenges for structural biology as expression and purification of membrane proteins and their subsequent analysis by conventional structural biological methods remains problematic. Recent developments in SRCD bring significant benefits not only in terms of sensitivity, an important consideration with these systems, but also the type of information that can be gleaned.

Two areas in particular have the potential to have a significant impact in membrane biology:

  1. The combined study of membrane proteins in membrane bilayers mimicking conditions using oriented circular dichroism (OCD) and solid state NMR spectroscopies.  The use of OCD will allow the screening of optimal conditions to obtain structural information at molecular resolution of the specimen by solid state NMR. The NMR structural data will be used to build a library of OCD reference spectra to develop CD analytical methods as well.
  2. Application of the novel method of UV-denaturation assay develop at Diamond B23 beamline to screen the UV-stability as well as the ligand binding interactions of small molecules to integral membrane proteins of biologically important potassium channels.

The student will be based at Southampton University, but will spend a substantial part of the three years at Diamond developing the OCD and CD analytical methods and carrying out experiments. The likely start date would be 1st October 2013.

Due to Research Council funding restrictions, funding is available for EU/UK nationals for the 3 years of the PhD. Deadline for applications: 19th July 2013

For further details about the project please contact Dr Phil Williamson (

Administrative contact and how to apply:

Please complete the University’s online application form, which you can find by clicking the Apply link below.

You should enter Dr Phil Williamson as your proposed supervisor.  Applications should include a CV and cover letter describing your experience and suitability for this position. Queries on the application procedure should be addressed to

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