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The Biosynthesis of Neurotransmitter Molecules: An evolutionary perspective


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Monday 3 July 2023
Project start date
Sunday 1 October 2023
Country eligibility
UK only
Source of funding
University of Leeds
Professor Paul Taylor and Dr Michael Webb
School of Chemistry
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

We research the evolutionary origins of the biosynthesis of biochemicals that are important to human health and wellbeing. Neurotransmission is in many ways the defining characteristic of animals, which are multicellular organisms that can sense changes in their environment and react quickly. Although the nervous system is a distinctive feature of animals, homologs of many proteins involved in neurotransmission are found in plants and other eukaryotes as well as in many phyla of bacteria. Indeed, it is clear that many of the components originated in ancestral bacteria.<br /> <br /> In this project, you will explore the evolutionary origins of the biosynthetic pathways that produce neurotransmitter molecules such as serotonin and dopamine. You will use a combination of computational and experimental approaches to establish whether uncharacterized bacterial enzymes have the same biochemical functions as their animal homologs. Better understanding of these proteins will shed light on the evolution of the biosynthetic pathways and can provide opportunities to study potential inhibitors of these classes of enzyme. If the bacteria are found to be biosynthesising the same molecules as animals, it raises questions about what the bacteria are using those chemicals for.<br /> <br /> Based in the School of Chemistry, you will also be part of the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology, giving you the opportunity to collaborate with researchers from a wide range of science disciplines.

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the Planned Course of Study section that you are applying for <strong>PhD Chemistry</strong> and in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is <em><strong>The Biosynthesis of Neurotransmitter Molecules: An evolutionary perspective </strong></em>as well as&nbsp;<a href="">Professor Paul Taylor</a> as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Applications will be considered on an ongoing basis. &nbsp;Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervisors for an informal discussion before making a formal application. &nbsp;We also advise that you apply at the earliest opportunity as the application and selection process may close early, should we receive a sufficient number of applications or that a suitable candidate is appointed.</p> <p>Please note that you must provide the following documents in support of your application by the closing date of 3 July 2023:</p> <ul> <li>Full Transcripts of all degree study or if in final year of study, full transcripts to date</li> <li>Personal Statement outlining your interest in the project</li> <li>CV</li> <li>Funding information:&nbsp; Faculty of Engineering &amp; Physical Sciences Studentship</li> </ul>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p class="MsoNoSpacing">A highly competitive Faculty of Engineering &amp; Physical Sciences Studentship consisting of the award of fees at the UK fee rate, together with a maintenance grant of &pound;18,622 for 3.5 years.</p> <p>This opportunity is open to all applicants. All candidates will be placed into the Faculty of Engineering &amp; Physical Sciences Studentship Competition and selection is based on academic merit.</p> <p>Please refer to the&nbsp;<a href="">UKCISA</a>&nbsp;website for&nbsp;information regarding Fee Status for Non-UK Nationals.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information about this project, please contact Professor Paul Taylor<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <p>For further information about your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>