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PhD Studentship: In Synthetic Organic Chemistry / Stereochemistry & Conformation

University of Bristol - School of Chemistry

Qualification Type: PhD
Location: Bristol
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students
Funding amount: UKRI standard stipend rate
Hours: Full Time
Placed On: 18th September 2020
Closes: 31st January 2021

The project: 

Funded by a European Research Council grant, a PhD studentship is available in the group of Prof Jonathan Clayden, starting in October 2021, to work on a project developing conformationally dynamic synthetic molecules that translate coded information into a chemical outputs (catalytic function, for example). Molecular biology translates the genetic code into functional proteins via the complex machinery of the ribosome, and we intend to mimic this function with relatively simple, conformationally responsive ‘dynamic foldamers’. These synthetic structures will include hydrogen-bond responsive, light-responsive and ligand-responsive structures with controlled conformational properties that communicate and process information. This will allow them to govern the workings of dynamic molecular systems that will for example switch catalytic sites between different functions. They will display functional similarities to receptor proteins and other biological signal transduction mechanisms, and will form part of a programme designing synthetic mimics of biological control systems, including molecular communication devices for transferring information through cell membranes. The PhD project will be carried out in Bristol’s well-equipped Synthetic Chemistry building, support by outstanding spectroscopic services and with resources provided by the £2M ERC advanced grant ‘DOGMATRON’, and will benefit from interactions with other researchers funded by this grant and from interfaces with the wider resources and expertise of Bristol’s Technology Enhanced Chemical Synthesis CDT and Biodesign Institute. For relevant publications from previous projects, see Nature Chem. 2017, 9, 420; Science 2016, 352, 575; J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2018, 140, 3528; 2016, 138, 8007. 

How to apply:

Please make an online application for this project at Please select Chemistry PhD on the Programme Choice page. You will be prompted to enter details of the studentship in the Funding and Research Details sections of the form. 

Candidate requirements: Masters degree in Chemistry, ideally with experience of synthesis in a research/industrial setting. 

Funding: ERC (UKRI standard stipend rate for 21/22 + tuition fees covered) 

Contacts: Prof Jonathan Clayden (

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