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Postdoctoral Research Assistant (Development of Small-Molecule Probes for E3 Ligases)

University of Dundee - Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery

Within the University of Dundee, the newly announced Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation (CeTPD) due to open in early 2022 is being created as a first of its kind Centre leading a number of internationally significant translational chemical biology projects in the burgeoning new area of targeted protein degradation. The goal of CeTPD is to innovate a next-generation of small-molecule technology platforms and modalities to advance chemical and biological insights and therapeutic targets related to human diseases. It aspires to achieve this by openly collaborate with academic, industrial and venture partners, and by training and inspiring the next-generation of research scientists and leaders.

We are seeking to appoint an ambitious and scientifically creative Postdoctoral Scientist, with experience in organic medicinal chemistry and small-molecule drug design, to join the group of Professor Alessio Ciulli within the expanding new CeTPD at the University of Dundee.

The successful candidate will be expected to identify and design, synthesise and optimize small-molecule binding ligands and chemical probes (drug-like inhibitors) that bind to E3 ligases, enzymes that tag substrate proteins with ubiquitin. The successful candidate will drive the chemistry and chemical aspects of the projects, and is expected to be familiar with the principles and approaches of structure-guided, fragment-based ligand design and optimization.

The ultimate goal of the project is to qualify high-affinity, selective and cell-active small molecules as tool compounds to investigate the E3 ligase target’s biology, and as suitable starting points for conjugation into bifunctional degrader molecules, also known as proteolysis-targeting chimeras (PROTACs), to co-opt novel E3 ligases for targeted protein degradation.

The successful candidate will join a diverse, fast-paced and collaborative team within the Ciulli group to contribute to multi-disciplinary projects as part of EUbOPEN (https://www.eubopen.org/). EUbOPEN is a multi-partner, highly collaborative consortium recently established and funded for 5 years by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) to enable and unlock biology in the open. You will be innovative, thrive in an intense, intellectually challenging, and dynamic environment, and use your creative problem-solving skills to support projects within the Ciulli Lab as well as the wider CeTPD discipline-oriented chemistry platforms. You will have the opportunity to work closely with other chemists, biochemists and cell biologists across the Ciulli group and internal CeTPD research teams, external collaborators, and contract research organizations (CROs) to accelerate EUbOPEN and other CeTPD academic research programmes. The candidate should exhibit excellent communication and collaborative skills for working on multi-disciplinary teams.

We are looking to build dedicated teams who share our passion for this exciting new venture. This is an exciting opportunity to join an academic team focused on the development and discovery of small-molecule ligands to open up novel modalities with the potential to develop new medicines to treat disease. It is also an exceptional opportunity to join a newly founded Research Centre and Group that is innovating models of translational chemical biology and pushing the boundaries of targeted protein degradation research, and to gain experience in world-leading, collaborative and cutting-edge research in one of the hottest area of modern translational chemical biology within an academic setting with an open-science ethos.

The post holder will be based at the newly refurbished CeTPD complex in the Hawkhill, adjacent to the Life Sciences Complex.

Requirements:

  • A Ph.D. in in synthetic organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry or chemical biology or a related discipline.
  • Strong background in synthetic organic chemistry and synthetic route design.
  • A record of innovation and achievements in organic/medicinal chemistry and/or chemical biology projects.
  • Excellent interpersonal, communication and presentation skills.
  • An open and collaborative approach to science.

Preferred skills:

  • Experience with fragment-based screening and structure-based drug design and allied methods to study protein structures and protein-ligand interactions.
  • Experience with computational methods to small molecule drug design.
  • Outstanding academic or industrial track records.
  • Capable of working in a diverse team, but able to plan and work independently.
  • Exceptional time management, organisational and self-motivational skills.

The post is available for an immediate start and for 3 years in the first instance, which may be extendable dependent on project progress and funding. Salary will depend on experience.

Appointment as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant on the Grade 7 salary scale is dependent upon you having been awarded a PhD. An appointment may be considered if you are shortly expected to be awarded a PhD. The initial appointment would be made as a Research Assistant on the Training Grade 7 salary scale (Spinal Point 25 - 28).

About the School of Life Sciences & University of Dundee:

The School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee is a world-class academic institution with a reputation for the excellence of its research, its high-quality teaching and student experience, and the strong impact of its activities outside academia. With 900 staff from over 40 countries worldwide the School provides a dynamic, multi-national, collegiate and diverse environment with state-of-the-art laboratory, technology and teaching facilities.

We are one of the UK’s leading universities – internationally recognised for our expertise across a range of disciplines and research breakthroughs in multiple areas, including science, medicine and engineering, amongst many others. Conveniently located on the banks of River Tay, our main city-centre campus is at the heart of Dundee - an up-and-coming, friendly, compact and affordable city with a rich heritage in design and technology. Just a short walk from the V&A Museum of Design Dundee, we’re close to both the train and bus stations. We also have campuses at Ninewells Hospital and in Kirkcaldy which are easily accessible via local transport links.

The diversity of our staff and students helps to make the University of Dundee one of the top universities in the UK. Family friendly policies, staff support networks for BME and LGBT staff, membership of Athena SWAN and Stonewall, as well as a full range of disability services, create an enjoyable and inclusive place to work.

The University of Dundee and the School of Life Science hold an Athena SWAN Silver Award, which recognises the promotion of gender equality. We strongly believe that diversity in our staff is crucial for our creativity and success and are committed to advance our inclusive culture by supporting and encouraging all staff and provide bespoke support as required for under-represented groups.

About EUbOPEN:

The EUbOPEN consortium is an Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) funded project to enable and unlock biology in the open. The consortium comprises 22 different partner organisations, including universities, research institutes, European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) members, and one small and medium-sized enterprise (SME). Goethe University Frankfurt and Boehringer Ingelheim are jointly leading the EUbOPEN consortium. Other partner organizations are Bayer AG, Diamond Light Source, EMBL-EBI, ETH Zürich, Fraunhofer IME, Georg-Speyer-Haus, Karolinska Institutet, Leiden University Medical Center, McGill University, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Pfizer, Royal Institute of Technology, Servier, the Structural Genomics Consortium, Takeda, University of Dundee, University of North Carolina, University of Oxford, and University of Toronto. EUbOPEN will run for five years and will have a total budget of 65.8 million euros covered by a grant from the IMI and cash and in-kind contributions from the EFPIA companies, IMI Associated Partners and non-EU partners.

The IMI is Europe's largest public-private initiative aiming to speed up the development of better and safer medicines for patients. IMI supports collaborative research projects and builds networks of industrial and academic experts in order to boost pharmaceutical innovation in Europe. IMI is a joint undertaking between the European Union and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

The University of Dundee is a signatory of the Researcher Development Concordat and is committed to enhancing the research environment and culture. Engagement and support of activities which assist the researcher development agenda at the University is therefore essential.

For further information about this position please contact Professor Alessio Ciulli at a.ciulli@dundee.ac.uk.

Location: Dundee
Salary: £33,309 to £40,927 Grade 7.
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 7th January 2022
Closes: 6th February 2022
Job Ref: SLSC1015
   
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