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PhD Studentship in Biological Physics: Interfacial Conformations of Adsorbed Antibodies as Studied by Dual Polarization Interferometry and Neutron Reflection

The University of Manchester - Physics and Astronomy

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Manchester
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: The annual stipend is expected to be £17000
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 15th April 2019
Closes: 7th June 2019

Project title: Interfacial conformations of Adsorbed Antibodies as Studied by Dual Polarization Interferometry and Neutron Reflection

Anticipated start date for project: September 2019.

Closing date for applications: Friday 7 June 2019.

Project description:

Monoclonal antibodies are proteins that can be engineered with exceptionally high selectivity and specificity to recognize their target molecules. Recent scientific and technological advances have now paved the way for developing antibodies as a new generation of protein drugs (biologics or biotherapeutics) for unmet clinical needs. In the course of bioprocessing (expression, purification, formulation and packaging), antibodies are exposed to different surfaces and interfaces. Some of these interactions may cause structural unfolding of the antibodies and loss of their unique functions. On the basis of our ongoing collaborative studies, we have demonstrated various technical capabilities in studying protein adsorption. The main objectives of this project work are to explore the use of dual polarization interferometry, neutron reflection and other related techniques for studying antibody adsorption and establish the basic understanding of the structural impact of the different interfaces on their stability. There is also scope for the development of molecular dynamics simulations to support data analysis and interpretation. This work contributes to theoretical advances by understanding how to predict and control complex interfacial processes and interactions.

Training and research environment: The student will base his/her training and research at Manchester but will incorporate activities at neutron facilities (RAL, ILL) and industrial partner AstraZeneca (Cambridge UK and Gaithersburg USA) who focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of biologic prescription medicines. The project thus provides a unique career opportunity for the student to learn how to link leading scientific research to technology innovations. No prior experience of neutron research, modelling or bioscience is required as a full package of training and support will be provided.

Qualifications applicants should have/expect to receive: The successful candidate will have or expect to obtain a first or upper second class degree or equivalent (e.g. MPhys, MSci, MChem, MEng) in science, engineering and bioscience. Those with experimental/computational skills and enthusiasm for research and innovation are encouraged to apply. Amount of funding available and eligibility: The project is funded for 3.5 years. The annual stipend is expected to be £17000. This is an MRC iCASE studentship and AstraZeneca is our industrial partner. The funding is limited to UK/EU applicants meeting UK residence criteria.

Contact for further information: or drop in to Room 3.14, Schuster Building on Manchester campus.

Academic Supervisors: Prof Jian R Lu, Dr Robin Curtis and Prof Jeremy Derrick

How to apply: standard procedure by following the online application from, but informal enquiry should be directed to Prof Jian R Lu.

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