|Funding for:||UK Students, EU Students, International Students|
|Funding amount:||From £17,668 For UK students, Tuition Fees and an annual stipend, tax-free, per annum for up to 3.5 years|
|Placed On:||9th May 2023|
|Closes:||31st August 2023|
Project title: Chemically modified mRNA for applications in Biology and medicine
Supervisory Team: Afaf El-Sagheer (95%), Matthias Baud (5%)
The potential of therapeutic mRNA became evident in the early 1990s. Up to date, the development and application of mRNA in therapy have been drawing the interest of several biotech companies and the future potential of mRNA technologies has been established by the Covid pandemic. The recently developed Covid vaccines, validated the safety of mRNA-based drugs in human treatment. For these reasons, mRNA will now join short therapeutic oligonucleotides and RNA-guided CRISPR-Cas technologies as the next-generation drugs for personalised medicine and the treatment of cancer and genetic diseases.
Nonetheless, the main limitation in the therapeutic application of nucleic acids, in particular long constructs such as mRNA, is represented by the hurdle in achieving specific and efficient intracellular delivery. Despite various strategies being developed, tissue specific delivery is yet far from being solved.
We will synthesise and investigate different chemical modification and the output of the project will represent a critical leap forward in modified mRNA to improve their stability in cells and delivery with enormous impact for different diseases.
The successful candidate will join a dynamic and enthusiastic group at the School of Chemistry in Southampton to work on a challenging project at the interface of chemistry and biology. The student will benefit from the outstanding facilities and vibrant environment provided by the department. Their objective will be synthesis of modified monomers, incorporate them in RNA and investigate their biophysical and biological properties. The project will be supervised by Dr Afaf El-Sagheer and the student will have the chance to visit collaborator’s labs for cell-based assays.
Experimental skills and knowledge in synthetic organic chemistry is essential. However, the multidisciplinary nature of this project will give the opportunity to the student to acquire knowledge and skills in other relevant disciplines. Those include solid phase oligonucleotides synthesis, biophysical/biochemical assays (e.g. PCR, transcription, UV, florescence, cell biology and machine learning), structural techniques (e.g. X-ray crystallography). Knowledge of these complementary areas is desirable, but not essential.
If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Afaf El-Sagheer Research Group, Email: email@example.com
A very good undergraduate degree (at least a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent).
Closing date: applications should be received no later than 31 August 2023 for standard admissions, but later applications may be considered depending on the funds remaining in place.
Funding: For UK students, Tuition Fees and a stipend of £17,668 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years.
How To Apply
Apply online: Search for a Postgraduate Programme of Study (soton.ac.uk). Select programme type (Research), 2023/24, Faculty of Physical Sciences and Engineering, next page select “PhD Chemistry (Full time)”. In Section 2 of the application form you should insert the name of the supervisor Afaf El-Sagheer
Applications should include:
For further information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Type / Role: