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PhD Studentship in Solid-State Pharmaceutics

University of Reading - Pharmacy

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Reading
Funding for: UK Students
Funding amount: Covers tuition fees plus stipend at UKRI rates
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 22nd March 2019
Closes: 3rd May 2019
Reference: GS19-035

Project title: Understanding crystal structures and hydrogen bonding motifs in Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) using powder diffraction and computation

Supervisors: Dr. Kenneth Shankland (University of Reading), Dr. Edd Bilbé (Johnson Matthey) and Dr. Kate Wittering (Pharmorphix)

Project Overview: Crystal structures provide knowledge of the stereochemistry, chemical connectivity and 3-dimensional conformation of APIs, giving insights into their physical properties. This is useful during all stages of a drug development programme, yet in many cases, it is not possible to grow API single crystals, preventing the use of conventional single-crystal X-ray diffraction. In such cases, crystalline powders can still be obtained, and structure determination attempted from powder X-ray diffraction data.

Johnson Matthey and Reading School of Pharmacy have entered into strategic collaboration in the area of solid-state characterisation of APIs. The aim of this project is to demonstrate that the crystal structures of complex molecular materials of interest can be determined using a combination of readily-accessible experimental techniques; and when combined with computational methods, give results that are as robust as those obtained using single-crystal X-ray diffraction. Working on a themed set of molecular materials of industrial importance, the student will collect experimental data using techniques including X-ray diffraction, solid-state NMR and other spectroscopic methods, and analyse data with a wide range of software, including computational chemistry packages.

The student will receive excellent training in all of these techniques and there is considerable scope for gaining insights into how best to combine information from a variety of methods in order to achieve the most reliable structures.

The successful candidate will be based at the University of Reading but will also spend time at Johnson Matthey Technology Centres in Reading and Cambridge, including an industrial secondment. They will emerge with a set of skills that are highly relevant to academia and industry, along with publications to demonstrate their application.


  • Applicants should hold, or expect to gain, a minimum of a 2:1 Bachelor Degree or equivalent in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Materials Science, or another directly relevant discipline.
  • This studentship is open to UK students only.

Funding Details:   

  • Starts 1st October 2019
  • 3 year award
  • Covers tuition fees plus stipend at UKRI rates

How to apply:   

To apply for this studentship please submit an application for a PhD in Pharmaceutics at

*Important notes*

  • 1) Please quote the reference ‘GS19-035’ in the ‘Scholarships applied for’ box which appears within the Funding Section of your on-line application.
  • 2) “When you are prompted to upload a research proposal, please omit this step.”]

Further Enquiries:  

Please note that, where a candidate is successful in being awarded funding, this will be confirmed via a formal studentship award letter; this will be provided separately from any Offer of Admission and will be subject to standard checks for eligibility and other criteria. 

For further details please contact Dr. Kenneth Shankland (

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