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Name of scholarship/program

Atomic force microscopy study of structural and functional changes in membrane proteins upon agonist and antagonist binding

Important description
We are inviting applications for a 4-year BBSRC CASE PhD studentship in the general areas of nanoscale biophysics and membrane protein receptors. While the student will be mainly based within the state-of-the-art London Centre for Nanotechnology (www.london-nano.com) on UCL’s Bloomsbury campus in Central London, the project will be carried out as a collaborative project with and partially (for a total duration between 4-18 months) on the premises of MedImmune (www.medimmune.com), the biologics arm of AstraZeneca, based in Cambridge. The proposed research project aims to obtain mechanistic insight in the effects of various high-affinity ligands and antibodies on membrane protein receptors, which should provide the basis for a more targeted drug discovery approach at MedImmune. The activation of membrane protein receptors typically involves Ångström- to nanometre-sized conformational changes. In this project, we will map such conformational changes at the receptor surface and correlate these with the inhibitory function of competitive antagonists and allosteric modulators. To this end, we will visualize the receptors and their interactions with inhibitory molecules in real time using high-resolution atomic force microscopy, a technique in which the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) is world-leading. The student will gain a detailed understanding of the processes and underlying physics of atomic force microscopy as well as a good working knowledge of receptor pharmacology and biophysics. In addition the student will gain a broad understanding into the generation and development of biologic drugs, particularly monoclonal antibodies.

Eligibility and other criteria
Candidates should have a high grade point average Bachelor’s, MSci or Master’s degree (or equivalent) in subjects such as Physics or Engineering, Molecular Biology, or Pharmacology. The project involves a significant experimental component and previous research experience relevant to the project is highly desirable.

Application deadline
* March 15, 2014

Additional information, and important URL

The stipend is £15,726 p.a. plus an annual top-up stipend of up to £4000 p.a. for 4 years, and tuition fees will be covered. Funding is available to UK and EU/EEA candidates, and only if they meet BBSRC residence criteria ( http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/funding/studentships/case.aspx ). Suitably qualified and eligible candidates should send their CV and references to Dr Bart Hoogenboom (b.hoogenboom@ucl.ac.uk, www.london-nano.com/our-people/academics/bart-hoogenboom) highlighting academic excellence and previous research experience. Early applications are advisable. http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/funding/studentships/case.aspx

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