PhD Project: A new toolbox to monitor molecular switches

  • West Midlands, All EnglandWest Midlands, All England


125th Anniversary Scholarship in the School of Biosciences

PhD Project: A new toolbox to monitor molecular switches

This PhD project will be based in the School of Biosciences which is part of the College of Life and Environmental Sciences.

The deadline for applications is 23:59 (UK time) on Tuesday 30 April 2024.

About the project

Technology advancement is critical to understand more about how biology works to design novel therapeutics. Structural mass spectrometry, is expanding rapidly and being used to solve broad, challenging questions in biology, chemistry and medicine both in industry and academia. The Leney lab has initiated the building of state-of-the-art hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS) equipment that opens a new level of insight into how proteins move and interact with one another. This PhD student will embark on a transformative journey at the forefront of scientific discovery by applying HDX-MS to structural biology.

The PhD will involve hands-on training for 1 year in the operation and expansion of the current HDX-MS equipment. In the last 2 years, this technology will be applied to address diverse research areas within life sciences. These projects could include:

1. Understanding mechanisms behind DNA replication for cancer therapeutics
2. Revealing structural mechanisms on bacterial predators for the generation of novel antibiotics
3. The development of photosynthetic devices for renewable energy applications

Under the expert guidance of Dr. Aneika Leney, a leader in structural mass spectrometry, and Professor Teresa Carlomagno, a renowned structural biologist specializing in NMR, the PhD student will embedded within a highly skilled research environment offering a high level of training in diverse biochemical techniques. The University of Birmingham offers a unique and enriching academic experience by interdisciplinary collaborations, having cutting-edge mass spectrometry research facilities, and having a inclusive and dynamic research student community; a community that PhD students take pride in being part of.

Entry Requirements

Applicants will be expected to have a good Honours degree (First Class or Upper Second Class Honours degree) awarded by a recognised University in Biology, Chemistry, or a Biochemistry-related subject, and a keen interest in learning structural biology and associated techniques.

Who can apply?

These scholarships are designed to create opportunities and address the underrepresentation of talented Black or Black mixed heritage students in academia. Applicants who meet all of the following criteria are eligible to apply:

1. UK nationals and eligible for registration as Home students

2. Members of one of the following ethnic groups:

  • Black African
  • Black Caribbean
  • Black Other
  • Mixed – White and Black Caribbean
  • Mixed – White and Black African
  • Other mixed background (to include Black African, Black Caribbean or Black Other)

3. Not already enrolled on a PhD programme at the University of Birmingham

What does the scholarship provide?

1. Financial Support: Recipients of these scholarships will receive substantial financial support, including a stipend at UKRI rates, which is set at £18,622 per year. This support covers tuition fees, living expenses, and research-related costs, including bench fees. This support is designed to alleviate the financial burden often associated with pursuing a doctoral degree.

2. Mentorship and Guidance: Scholarship recipients will benefit from mentorship opportunities and guidance from accomplished faculty members who are dedicated to helping them succeed in their academic and research endeavours.

3. Research Opportunities: We are committed to providing an exceptional research environment. Students will have access to state-of-the-art facilities, cutting-edge resources, and a vibrant scholarly community.

4. Community Building: A key component of the scholarship programme is the creation of a supportive community of Black British researchers pursuing PhDs. This network will foster collaboration and peer support among scholars.

5. Research Training Support Grant: In addition to financial support, scholarship recipients will receive a research training support grant. This grant is intended to support conference attendance, fieldwork, and other essential activities that enhance their research and academic growth.

6. Commitment to Inclusivity: We are dedicated to building an inclusive academic environment that values diversity and ensures equitable access to education.

Contact the lead supervisor

Once applicants have familiarised themselves with the above project details, they are encouraged to contact the lead PhD supervisor to discuss the project and the applicant’s suitability for the project. This is recommended before you submit an application to the PhD project.


How to apply

After applicants have made contact with the lead PhD supervisor, you will then need to apply to the PhD project using our online application portal: you should select ‘125th Anniversary Scholarships (LES)‘. You will need to create an account for the online application portal and you will be prompted to sign-in upon your return to the portal.

You do not need to complete your application in one session; you can save your application at each stage and return to the portal at any stage before submission, particularly if you do not have all of the necessary documents when you begin your application.

As this is an ‘advertised PhD’, in which you will studying the above project that has already been provided by the academic supervisor(s), you do not need to submit a research proposal. Your personal statement will suffice for determining your suitability for the PhD project as well as your previous academic, professional and personal experiences.

The deadline for applications is 23:59 (UK time) on Tuesday 30 April 2024.

For your application you will need to submit the following documents:

  • Personal Statement
  • References
  • Academic certificate and transcript(s) for all prior degrees
  • Sample Work



Who is eligible to apply?

Please visit website for details

University of Birmingham Campus

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