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PhD Studentship: Visible-light-mediated functionalisation of amino acids, peptides, and proteins


Location:  UK Other
Closing Date:  Tuesday 20 June 2023
Reference:  SCI2173

Dr Nicholas Mitchell (

Applications accepted all year round.

Fully-funded PhD project (UK Students Only)

About the project

A PhD studentship funded by the Leverhulme Trust in synthetic chemistry/peptide chemistry/photochemistry is available in the research group of Dr Nicholas Mitchell based in the School of Chemistry, University of Nottingham (

Start date: 2 October 2023. Application deadline: The position will remain open until a suitable candidate is found.


The diverse array of chemical functionality displayed by the 20 canonical amino acids presents both challenges and opportunities for the development of peptide and protein conjugation chemistry. Techniques that enable the residue-specific modification of polypeptides provide tools to facilitate the study and manipulation of biological systems, and the preparation of therapeutic/diagnostic agents. 

Previous work in our group concerns the exploration of operationally simple photochemical methods to install groups of interest into peptide and protein scaffolds (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2020, 59, 23659-23667; Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2022, 61, e202110223; Chem. Eur. J., 2023, e202202503). These reports include examples of stereoretentive C(sp3)-C(sp3) bond forming photochemistry which enables the installation of protein post-translational modifications (PTMs). We wish to further extend the reach of this synthetic platform to explore the chemically modified proteome, and develop drug conjugates and peptide inhibitors for disease-relevant protein-protein interactions (PPIs).

Project Aim

This project will involve the development of new photochemical methods to synthesise non-canonical amino acids, and site-selectively modify peptides and proteins. The candidate will further extend the scope of our desulfurative strategy as well as developing new avenues based on the natural chemical functionality of the proteome.

Entry requirements

Applications are invited from UK home students (due to funding restrictions) with an interest in organic synthesis, photochemistry, and chemical biology. Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours Masters degree (or BSc with substantial research experience) in Chemistry, Natural Science specialising in chemistry, or a similar degree. 

To apply please send your CV (max 2 pages) and a cover letter to

Funding Notes

This PhD studentship is fully-funded for 36 months by the Leverhulme Trust starting in October 2023. This funding covers the payment of tuition fees at the UK/home rate and gives you a tax-free stipend at the standard UKRI rate (currently £17,668 per year). Due to funding restrictions this position can unfortunately not be offered to EU or international students.

Please contact Dr Nicholas Mitchell ( for further information.

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