PhD Studentship Optimizing Antisense Oligonucleotides for Silencing Nuclear Noncoding RNAs

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:   Saturday 31 August 2013
Reference:  214913F6

We are seeking an academically excellent and motivated individual to join the lab of Dr. Jonathan Watts as a fully funded PhD student (start October 2013). The project is funded by the European Commission and the University of Southampton and due to funding restrictions is open to European / UK students only.

Less than 1.5% of the human genome codes for protein, but 50-90% of the genome is transcribed into RNA. The difference, noncoding RNA, is now known to play a number of important roles in the regulation of gene expression. However the existing tools to study nuclear noncoding RNAs are limited. This project will develop improved oligonucleotide-based tools for the study of noncoding RNA and with potential therapeutic applications also in view. One aspect of the project will be the development of a new chimeric structure composed of Peptide Nucleic Acid, Locked Nucleic Acid, and DNA. We have been designing this structure through computational work and are now ready to proceed to synthesis.

With a number of leading biological collaborators around the world, we are in a position to move quickly toward exciting applications of these improved oligonucleotides. Besides applications in the study of noncoding RNAs, there is also potential for impact within the broader field of antisense therapy.

This project is multidisciplinary, with research being conducted at the interface of chemistry and biology. As such, this project will make use of techniques ranging from organic synthesis to solid-phase oligonucleotide and peptide synthesis to culturing mammalian cells and testing oligonucleotides in cell culture. We are looking for a careful and enthusiastic chemist with a solid background in synthetic organic chemistry, as well as a strong interest to work in a biological context. Some biological background is also an asset.  

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The successful candidate is expected to have a first class degree in chemistry, biochemistry, or a related subject from a leading university. The project start date will be Oct 2013.

For more information or with any questions, informal enquiries should be addressed to Dr. Jon Watts by email (j.k.watts [at] 

Questions on the application procedure should be directed to 

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