6 PhD Studentships: Chemical and Biological Target Validation in Neglected Tropical Diseases

Durham University - Department of Chemistry and Department of Biosciences

Duration: 39 months
Starting: October 2018

Project Description

We seek to appoint up to 6 PhD studentships to join a newly established Durham-lead, MRC supported, Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases.

The Network was formed as a result of a recently awarded MRC Global Challenges Research Fund Capacity Building grant to Durham University. This funding underwrites a global network of researchers from South Asia, South America and the UK to develop and share multidisciplinary technologies to identify and validate drug targets in the causative agents of leishmaniasis and Chagas disease. The overarching aim is to prepare targets to be fast forwarded into much needed drug discovery programmes for these Neglected Tropical Diseases.

For further information about the Network see - https://www.dur.ac.uk/news/newsitem/?itemno=31985

Example Projects

All of the projects will involve carrying out research at the chemistry-biology interface and we are keen to recruit students who wish to develop and learn skills in this area. As part of the training program students will also have the opportunity to spend time in one of several internationally leading research laboratories in either South America or South East Asia. Example PhD projects include -

Design, synthesis and application of activity-based protein profiling agents for target discovery in Neglected Tropical Diseases 

Target identification for accelerating drug repurposing for new antileishmanials

Mining the sphingolipid biosynthetic pathway of Leishmania for novel drug targets

The design, synthesis and development of new peptide- and peptoid-based anti-parasitic agents

Probing the Leishmania sphingosine kinase, a potential drug target

Target validation of an antileishmanial compound, a repurposed antihistamine

Understanding amino acid metabolism in Trypanosomes using chemical probes

The synthesis of fluorinated Miltefosine analogs to probe drug resistance mechanisms

Structure-based drug design for the neglected tropical diseases


Applicants will need to be in possession of an undergraduate degree at a 2:1 honours level or above (or equivalent) in a discipline directly relevant to the research areas of chemistry and biology. The positions are open to both UK and international applicants.


Interested applicants should send a CV (no longer than 2 pages, and should include the contact details of 2 references) and a short cover letter to ntd.network@durham.ac.uk.

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Northern England