PhD Studentship Prediction and Exploitation of the Druggability of Biomolecular Drug Targets

4-year fully funded PhD studentship, stipend ca. £13,726 pa, EU applicants only due to funding restrictions.
Supervisor: Dr Julien Michel, School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh.

Applications are invited for a prestigious European Research Council funded 4-year PhD studentship in the Michel lab ( in the area of biomolecular simulations and computer-aided drug design. The EaStCHEM school of Chemistry at the University of Edinburgh is among the top ranked departments within the EU. 

Because proteins are flexible molecules there are potentially many more binding sites than those apparent in the static picture of a protein structure revealed by experiments. The ability to identify alternative, tractable, protein conformational states is of tremendous value for structure-based drug design. In this project, you will contribute to the development of new molecular simulation methods to detect hidden pockets in a protein and assess their “druggability” with small molecules. You will implement algorithms in existing molecular simulation software packages and test ability to predict ligand-induced pockets in flexible proteins. In collaboration with medicinal chemists and structural biologists in the lab and with other groups in Chemistry and Biology you will later use the software to assist the structure-based design of ligands targeting proteins of biomedical interest.

This is an exciting opportunity to develop, validate and apply next-generation computer-aided drug design software and methodologies. Upon completion of the studentship, the successful applicant will have gained strong technical expertise in molecular modelling and exposure to collaborative multi-disciplinary research. This will prepare him or her well for a future career in academia or the industry.

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Applicants with an excellent academic record in a chemistry/physics degree are encouraged to apply. The ideal candidate will have: strong knowledge in biophysical/medicinal chemistry or chemical physics; relevant research experience; excellent written and oral communication skills; enthusiasm for rational drug design, computational chemistry and Linux scientific computing. Previous experience in computer programming (Python, C++) is desirable but not essential.

Applications will be considered until an excellent candidate has been identified. There is some flexibility with the starting date, but the earliest possible starting date is December 1st 2013. Due to eligibility restrictions, a fully funded studentship is only available to EU citizens. Applicants that do not have a degree from an English speaking university should normally satisfy English language requirements (see

To apply, please submit initially by email a CV, covering-letter describing your previous research experience and reasons to apply, and the names and email address of two referees in pdf format to Dr. Julien Michel via the Apply button below. Informal enquiries are encouraged. The closing date for applications is 31 December 2013.

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