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Postdoc Position at University of Cambridge

University of Cambridge is pleased to invite applicants to apply for a new opening postdoctoral position in biochemistry. Candidates are welcome before December 27, 2018.

Applications are invited for a postdoctoral structural biologist with experience in structure-guided drug discovery to join the Blundell laboratory at the University of Cambridge, Department of Biochemistry, Central Cambridge. The successful candidate will work on a project, funded by the Fondation Botnar, to develop new antibiotics for multidrug-resistant bacterial infections caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Mycobacterium abscessus affecting children with Cystic Fibrosis. This is a collaborative grant led by clinician and scientist Professor Andres Floto, and involving Cambridge scientists in the Chemistry Department (Professor Chris Abell) and Biochemistry (Professor Sir Tom Blundell) and at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus (Dr Julian Parkhill).

Research Summary: The project focuses on developing new antibiotics for children with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) although these will clearly also benefit other children with multi-drug resistant infections. CF affects over 10,000 children and adults in the UK and results in defective ion and water handling by epithelial cells. Most importantly, this impairs muco-ciliary clearance in the lungs and leads to chronic respiratory bacterial infections and ultimately death.

M. abscessus and P. aeruginosa are multidrug-resistant, rapidly growing species of bacteria, which are a major threat to CF individuals and common and lethal drug-resistant infections throughout the developed world. Drs. Parkhill and Floto are doing population-level whole genome sequencing and functional phenotyping of clinical isolates of M. abscessus and P. aeruginosa. Dr Marcin Skwark, who is funded by the Botnar Fondation in the Blundell group, is a building a database of the structural proteomes of both M. abscessus and and P. aeruginosa – using modeling programs developed in the Blundell group over the past 30 years.

The post-doctoral structural biologist will use structure-guided fragment-based drug discovery to target essential proteins, the selection of which will be guided by essentiality and druggability of targets identified through the computational proteomics programme. The structural biologist will express the selected target proteins, probably enzymes or receptors, and establish biochemical assays for inhibition. He/she will define the three-dimensional structures using X-ray or possibly cryo-EM, and will screen using a variety of biophysical methods the fragment library developed in a collaboration between the Blundell and Abell groups. He/she will then collaborate with chemists in the Abell group to to elaborate or crossling fragments into drug-like lead candidates.

The successful candidate must have completed a PhD programme in structural biology and have experience in structure-guided drug discovery using fragment-binding approaches. The project will entail use of several biophysical methods including surface plasmon resonance, ligand-based NMR, isothermal calorimetry and high-throughput X-ray methods – experience in such methods will be essential.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available until 30 September 2021 in the first instance.

Applicants should include with their application a CV, including a short statement of previous research and publications as well as the names of three referees who are established members of university research institute or other research institution.

Informal enquiries can be directed to Professor Sir Tom Blundell – tlb20@cam.ac.uk

Enquiries about the online application process can be sent to the departmental HR team at personnel@bioc.cam.ac.uk.


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