PhD Studentship: Polymer-based methods for bio-therapeutics development

United Kingdom
Jul 14, 2017
Jul 28, 2017
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time

This is an industrial collaboration project with Medimmune to explore leading-edge healthcare and medicine.

In 2009 we developed a new polymer-based method (SMALP) for the production of the drug target proteins. The method negates the problematic use of detergents in making membrane proteins, instead encapsulating them, complete with a portion of phospholipid membrane in a 10 nm diameter nanodisc. Since the methods development there has been significant interest from a wide range of pharmaceutical companies who see it as a way of relieving a crucial bottleneck in their bio-therapeutic discovery pipelines. In this project we will work with Medimmune to develop the SMALP for use in their bio-therapeutic discovery campaigns pipeline. This will include:

1) Using physical techniques (e.g. Neutron, X-ray and light scattering) to understand the physical principles that underpin the SMALP process
2) Developing the SMALP method for production of targets proposed by Medimmune
3) Developing custom polymers (in partnership with Francisco
Fernandez-Trillo) to enable tethering of SMALPs to surfaces for drug discovery assays and structural biology methods essential for structure-based drug design

Together these elements will help Medimmune to include new targets, not previously available using traditional methods, in their bio-therapeutic discovery programs.

Informal enquires about the project can be directed to Professor Dafforn (

How to apply:
• Apply directly via the University of Birmingham Postgraduate application system, the Postgraduate portal. (Apply button)
• Please detail the advertised supervisor and project title under the ’Research Information’ section of the application form.

Funding Notes

This project is open UK and EU students and is available on a full-time (4 year) or part-time (8 year) basis. The studentship will comprise of an annual stipend at £14,553 for 2017/18 (pro rota for part-time) and full payment of tuition fees at UK/EU level of £4,195 in 2017/18.

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