PhD Studentship: Carcinogenic Point Mutations Caused by Intercalation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in DNA

University College London

Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for this three-year Impact Studentship funded position which will start in September 2017 or earlier, depending on applicant availability. The PhD studentship will be based in the Department of Chemistry at UCL, supervised by Professor Peter V. Coveney from the Centre for Computational Science, and co-supervised by Dr. Alya A. Arabi from the College of Natural and Health Sciences at Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), e.g. naphthalene, crysene and benzopyrene, function as intercalators that become sandwiched between two stacked base pairs of DNA. This intercalation in DNA, through dispersion interactions, is believed to cause a point mutation in the DNA, leading to unhealthy carcinogenic cells. The goal of this research is to determine the extent of point mutation in DNA due to different intercalators; using a combination of quantum mechanical and molecular dynamics methods. The group of Prof Coveney specializes inter alia in the development and application of free energy calculations to bio-molecular systems. The work will be facilitated by access to supercomputers within UK and internationally. The student will be based in UCL, with annual funded visits to Zayed University in Abu Dhabi.

This is a very exciting opportunity for a student with a strong chemistry, physics, biochemistry, bio-physics or computer science background to tackle the complexity arising in this fascinating area of biology and biomedicine. The minimum requirement is a first class or upper second class honours degree (MSci, MEng) or equivalent. Prior experience of experimental biology is not necessary.

Applications, including a full and up to date CV, together with the names and addresses (email and physical) of two academic referees should be sent as soon as possible to Prof P. V. Coveney, email to whom informal inquiries may also be made.

The deadline for applications is 5 p.m. UK time on Friday 18 November 2016. Due to Impact Studentship regulations, only UK and EU students are eligible to apply for this post.

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