PhD Studentship: Supramolecular Chemistry/Physical Organic Chemistry

A phd position is available at University Of Cambridge. All students regardless of citizenship are eligible to apply. The deadline for applying is October 29, 2018.

Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD studentship from October 2019 in the group led by Professor Christopher Hunter FRS (see We seek an enthusiastic PhD student to work on one of the research areas outlined below. The project will involve a combination of molecular design, organic synthesis and quantitative measurements of function.

Project 1: Synthetic Information Molecules. We are developing new classes of molecules that will offer a programmable alternative to nucleic acids. The project will involve synthetic chemistry to develop monomeric building blocks equipped with H-bond recognition sites, characterising the duplex-forming properties of oligomers of these building blocks and template synthesis of complementary oligomers.

Project 2: Computational Protein-Ligand Docking. The project is part of a large programme aimed at establishing new accurate quantitative description of non-covalent interactions that can be used to predict condensed phase molecular properties. The student will work in collaboration with AstraZeneca on the development of applications of these methods for predicting protein-ligand binding affinities for use in virtual screening of large molecular libraries.

Project 3: Multivalent Probes for Protein Aggregates. Chemical tools for characterising and imaging misfolded pathogenic proteins in humans are urgently needed for diagnosis. The student will work as part of a larger team in collaboration with research groups in the University’s Clinical School. The project will involve the synthesis of libraries of ligands, testing their binding affinity and selectivity for different protein aggregates, and in collaboration with other members of the team, biological testing.

Project 4: Artificial Signal Transduction. We recently discovered a new type of molecular machine capable of transmitting chemical information across a lipid membrane in a similar manner to coupled membrane protein receptors. Transduction of a chemical signal from the outside of a vesicle is achieved via controlled translocation, which triggers a catalytic process on the inside of the vesicle. The project will involve organic synthesis of the building blocks equipped with appropriate recognition sites, studies of the binding properties of these systems, incorporation into vesicles, assessment of recognition triggered transmembrane signalling properties.

Applicants must have (or expect to obtain) the equivalent of a UK first class or upper second-class honours degree (and preferably a Masters) in chemistry or other relevant discipline. The studentship will provide a maintenance grant and tuition fees at the UK/EU rate. Non-EU nationals will be considered only if they can cover the differential for overseas tuition fees.

Applications should include a cover letter, CV, detailed academic transcripts and the contact details for at least two academic referees, and should be sent by email to, including the reference MA16688 in the subject line. The cover letter should explain why you wish to be considered for the studentship and describe the qualities and experience you would bring to the role. Please also state how you learned of the studentship.

If you wish to be considered for any other available studentships in the Chemistry Department, you must also apply online via the University Applicant Portal by November 10th 2018 (further information at Please note that there is an application fee.

Information about research in the Department of Chemistry is given at:


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