PhD Studentship, Chemical Biology, Diagnostics and Therapeutics

Southampton, United Kingdom
£16,062 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years
27 Jun 2022
End of advertisement period
31 Aug 2022
Academic Discipline
Physical Sciences, Chemistry
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Chemical Biology, Diagnostics & Therapeutics

Location:  Highfield Campus
Closing Date:  Wednesday 31 August 2022
Reference:  1875222EB

Supervisory Team:    Profs Ali Tavassoli

Identification and development of compounds targeting childhood brain cancer

Project description

We are seeking an outstanding chemistry student with an interest in chemical biology to work on a project to identify and develop inhibitors of a currently untreatable form of childhood brain cancer called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). This project is carried out in collaboration with Curve Therapeutics, and scientists at the Cincinnati Childrens Hospital.

Our collaborators have identified a protein called ATIC, an enzyme that catalyses that last two steps of the de novo purine biosynthesis pathway, as being important for the survival of DIPG tumours. Their experiments with a small molecule ATIC inhibitor developed by the Tavassoli lab has shown that DIPG cell lines are sensitive to ATIC inhibition, significantly increasing the survival rate in pre-clinical mouse models. 

In this project, we will develop next-generation inhibitors of ATIC with improved in vitro and cell-based activity. This will involve synthesis and testing of analogues of our ATIC inhibiotr. In addition to the medicinal chemistry core of this project, the project will proivide training in a variety of chemical biology teniques such as recombinant protein-expression and purificaiton, and biochemical and cell-based assays. The ideal candidate will have prior lab-based experience of medicinal chemistry and/or synthetic organic chemistry, with an interest in chemical biology. 

The project provides an excellent opportunity to receive high-quality training in a range of techniques at the chemistry/biology interface. The project will be conducted in the Tavassoli lab, in close collaboration with Curve Therapeutics, using state of the art multidisciplinary laboratories, facilities and equipment. This project provides a unique opportunity to work closely with a biotechnology company on a drug discovery project. 

More information about the Tavassoli lab can be found on the University of Southampton website: 

If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Ali Tavassoli, Email:

Entry Requirements

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 2022 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 £16,062 tax-free per annum for up to 3.5 years. 

How To Apply

Applications should be made online. Select programme type (Research), 2022/23, 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 Ali Tavassoli 

Applications should include

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Two reference letters
  • Degree Transcripts to date

Apply online:

For further information please contact: 

The School of Chemistry is committed to promoting equality, diversity inclusivity as demonstrated by our Athena SWAN award. We welcome all applicants regardless of their gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or age, and will give full consideration to applicants seeking flexible working patterns and those who have taken a career break. The University has a generous maternity policy, onsite childcare facilities, and offers a range of benefits to help ensure employees’ well-being and work-life balance. The University of Southampton is committed to sustainability and has been awarded the Platinum EcoAward.

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