PhD Scholarship in Phytochemicals

University of Kent

A PhD scholarship is available funded by the Taylor’s University Flagship Research Fund, working with Prof. Chin Kin Fah (Taylor’s University, Subang Jaya, Dr Isabel Fong (UNIMAS, Kuching, Malaysia), and Dr Christopher Serpell (University of Kent, Canterbury, UK).

The student will investigate the anti-obesity potential of phytochemicals first discovered in the Borneo rainforest. These phytochemicals give plants some of their colours, but they have also been shown to have a beneficial effect on cultured fat cells. This project will expand on those results, aiming to set the stage for clinical trials.

The successful candidate will start at Kent by synthesising the same compounds (with variations) in bulk and creating novel nanoscale delivery systems. In the second year, they will perform in vitro cell studies at UNIMAS, which will uncover structure-activity relationships, and determine the biochemical mode of action. In the third year, the candidate will study the effects of the phytochemicals on high fat induced animal models at Taylor’s University. The overall aim of the project is to discover new pharmaceuticals based on natural products which will address important societal challenges.

The student will gain diverse training including: organic synthesis, nanoscale drug formulation, in vitro and in vivo studies, immunohistochemistry, molecular genetic techniques gaining unusually broad insight into all stages in the drug development process. Furthermore, the student will benefit from valuable cultural exchange, working at an established UK university and two vibrant and highly ranked universities in Borneo and mainland Malaysia. They will enjoy the opportunities to explore diverse and fascinating parts of the world. In addition, the position will directly open up opportunities for employment in Malaysia.

The successful applicant will have a Bachelor's degree with CGPA of at least 3.33 and a Master's degree with CGPA of at least 3.5 if taught, or a Master's degree by research.

This PhD Studentship is due to start in September 2018.

For further information, UK applicants should contact Dr Serpell (, and Malaysian candidates should contact Prof. Chin ( or Dr Fong (

Tuition fees are fully covered by this scholarship, and the student will receive £14,000 stipend for the initial year in the UK and 30,000 RM each year for the following two years while based in Malaysia.

Deadline for applications: 1st June 2018

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South East England