PhD Studentship: Structure and Design of Cyclic Peptides for Drug Development

University of Warwick

Supervisors: Dr. Ann Dixon and Dr. Rebecca Notman

Funding availability: Leverhulme Trust (Funded)

Project description: 
This PhD studentship involves the development of new, predictive tools to understand how introduction of chemical modifications into a polypeptide chain changes the global structure/properties of the peptide, with a goal of applying this understanding to rapid and efficient synthesis of cyclic peptides – one of the most exciting and promising branches of drug and therapeutic development today. Working in collaboration with the laboratory of Prof. Mike Shipman, the project will provide an exciting research problem for a student with a background in analytical, biological or physical chemistry, as well as an excellent opportunity for them to develop skills in advanced analytical and biological chemistry, spectroscopy methods, and computational chemistry methods. The project is split into two areas of research: (i) molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of designed peptides both before and after cyclisation to understand how various modifications influence the structure, conformation and downstream cyclisation of the linear precursors and the properties of the resulting cyclised peptides; (ii) use of analytical tools including solution-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and circular dichroism (CD) spectroscopies to deduce the three-dimensional structures of modified polypeptides. The experimental and computational data are highly complementary and will yield a molecular-level understanding of structure and reactivity which will form the foundation for design of new synthetic strategies and peptides with therapeutic potential. See reference: Chem. Commun. 2014, 8797–8800.

Further information about the Dixon group can be found at:

Further information about the Notman group can be found at:

The studentship provides 3 years of funding for UK/EU students, starting October 2017. Applicants should have or be about to receive an honours degree (at least II.1 or equivalent) in chemistry or related discipline. Practical experience in analytical and / or computational chemistry is highly desirable, but not required. A working knowledge of nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy would also be beneficial. 

How to apply: 
Enquires to both supervisor are welcomed and applications should be directed as soon as possible (with a CV) to Dr Ann Dixon ( 

Details on the formal application procedure can be found at

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Midlands of England