Industrial Case PhD Studentship - Engineering a Sugar Aminotransferase for the Sustainable Production of High-value Chiral Compounds

University of Nottingham - Chemistry

Location: University Park

Dr. Elaine O’Reilly

The Project

4 year fully funded studentship including an industrial placement.

Applications with a background in chemistry, molacular biology or biochemistry are invited for an exciting PhD opportunity to work on a project in collaboration with BASF Ludwigshafen, Germany. The student will spend most of their time at the University of Nottingham working under the direction of Dr Elaine O’Reilly (chemistry). They will also have a unique opportunity to spend between 3-6 months working at BASF, Ludwigshafen, in the Biocatalysis research group.

Sugar aminotransferase (AT) biocatalysts offer a potential route from cheap, readily available sugars to high value amino alcohols and amino sugars. However, this family of ATs have a limited substrate scope, and their activity towards simple sugars has not been described.

This industrially supported project will focus on engineering sugar aminotransferase biocatalysts to enable them to transform a wide range of monosaccharides; generating chiral amino alcohols and amino sugars. The project will use a combination of directed evolution and rational design to evolve these enzymes and will rely on in-house high-throughput screening techniques to detect novel activity. This work will also be supported by a computational group here at Nottingham.


The Industrial CASE Partnership (ICP) programme awards to strategic industrial partners a block allocation of four-year fully funded studentships.Students will benefit from a diverse range of training opportunities, including specialist workshops, lectures and seminars, as well as participation in Nottingham’s yearly BBSRC DTP Spring School event.This project will provide the student with a unique opportunity to aquire skills in synthetic chemistry, biocatalysts, microbiology, molecular biology and computational design.

Benefits to the Student:

Ø  The successful applicant will benefit from the excellent research facilities at the University of Nottingham

Ø  They will have an opportunity to transfer skills and technology from their PhD research to chemical biologists at BASF during their industrial placement

Ø  The student will directly contribute towards high-impact publications

Ø  The successful candidate will receive excellent training in organic synthesis, molecular biology, biocatalysis etc. which represent highly relevant skills for a career in the pharmaceutical industry and related sectors


Studentships are fully funded for a fixed period of 4 years and cover fees and a tax free stipend (only UK applicants are eligible for both fees and stipend) at UK Research Council rate.


Applicants should be in possession of, or expect to attain, a first or upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, in chemistry, molecular biology, biochemistry or a relevant discipline.

Apply online at Interested students are welcome to contact Dr Elaine O’Reilly for an informal discussion or for further information

The School values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity. The School of Chemistry holds a Silver Athena SWAN Award in recognition of our commitment to advancing women's careers in science. You can read more about what this means at and on our website

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Midlands of England