A fully funded 3.5-year PhD studentship in the area of antibody-drug conjugation chemistry is available, to be carried out in the group of Professor Joe Sweeney at the Department of Chemistry, Lancaster University, and in collaboration with AbbVie, Inc. (USA). The post will commence in October 2019.
The Sweeney group has an international reputation for synthetic methodology, heterocyclic chemistry and catalysis (representative publications: iScience 2018, 9, 328–336; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, 57, 10202–10206; Nature Chem. 2017, 9, 396–401; J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2008, 130, 6840-6847; J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2005, 127, 1066-1067), with a new recent focus on the application of novel synthetic methodology to medicinal chemistry (see, for instance: ACS Med. Chem. Lett. 2018, 9, 552–556).
Antibody-Drug Conjugation (the covalent attachment of a known drug substance to an antibody) is a modern paradigm in medicine, offering the prospect of more effective and highly selective treatments for a range of hard-to-treat illnesses. Though several such antibody-drug conjugates ('ADCs') pharmaceuticals are already sold (including Adcetris, Kadcyla, T-DM1, and Inotuzumab ozogamicin), the chemical methods for conjugation are often not fit-for-purpose, with in vivo detachment of the drug 'payload' (leading to inactivation of the medication) a serious ongoing clinical problem.
The aim of this PhD project is to develop new methods for antibody-drug conjugation which will enable the efficient preparation of ADCs possessing greater in vitro and in vivo stability. The project will be carried out in collaboration with AbbVie, Inc. (USA).
During the course of the project, you will be trained in general and advanced methods for synthesis and catalysis, including (where necessary) preparation and handling of air- and moisture-sensitive compounds. Analytical training will be focused on the characterization of new compounds, intermediates and materials using a range of techniques including NMR (solution and solid-state) and IR spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, mass spectrometry and HPLC. Training in chemical biology methods will also be part of the project training.
The Department of Chemistry has superb analytical facilities, supporting training using a diverse array of equipment including NMR (solution and solid-state) and IR spectroscopy, X-ray crystallography, Raman spectroscopy, time resolved fluorescence spectroscopy, mass spectrometry and gel-permeation chromatography. There is also access to departmental, institutional and regional HPC facilities.
Applicants will hold, or expect to receive, a 1st class or 2:1 UK Masters-level or BSc degree (or equivalent) in Chemistry and possess theoretical and practical skills commensurate with the undergraduate degree programme. The successful candidate will demonstrate a strong interest in synthetic organic chemistry, enthusiasm to work in a laboratory environment, willingness to learn, a collaborative attitude, and will possess excellent written and oral communication skills.
How to apply
We encourage informal e-mail enquiries before submitting an application, to Professor Joe Sweeney (firstname.lastname@example.org). Applications should be made via Lancaster University’s online application system (http://www.lancaster.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/how-to-apply-for-postgraduate-study/). Applications will be considered in the order that they are received, and the position may be filled when a suitable candidate has been identified. Please indicate on your application that you are applying for this funded PhD project.
About Lancaster University
The Department of Chemistry at Lancaster University provides a research environment that strongly supports the individual needs of each student, and promotes a healthy work–life balance. We are committed to the Athena Swan Charter, which recognises and celebrates good employment practice undertaken to address gender equality in higher education and research. Our commitment to these principles is reflected in our recent receipt of an Athena Swan Bronze Award. The Department of Chemistry also operates an informal PhD peer-peer mentor scheme available to all students.
The studentships will cover fees at the UK/EU rate plus the standard maintenance stipend (£15,009 for 2019/20).