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Machine Learning Driven Reaction Screening in Continuous Flow


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Monday 29 April 2024
Project start date
Tuesday 1 October 2024
Country eligibility
UK only
Source of funding
Research council
Professor Richard Bourne and Dr Adam Clayton
School of Chemical and Process Engineering, School of Chemistry
Research groups/institutes
Institute of Process Research and Development
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Are you a Chemist or Chemical Engineer looking to have a positive real-world impact on the efficiency of pharmaceutical development? Throughout this project you will develop a multidisciplinary skillset in flow chemistry, organic synthesis, and programming/reactor automation, which you will use to create new approaches for reaction screening and optimisation. In addition, this work will be conducted in collaboration with industrial partners, including multinational pharmaceutical companies.<br /> <br /> Rapid transition from drug discovery to manufacturing is critical for the supply of clinical trials and delivery of newly approved medicines. However, traditional workflows often lead to time-consuming and costly redesigns between the different stages of pharmaceutical development. Digitally coupling autonomous reaction screening and process optimisation platforms has the potential to significantly streamline this process through machine learning guided experimentation. <br /> <br /> This interdisciplinary project, based across the Schools of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of Leeds, will investigate flow chemistry and machine learning approaches for the development of an automated reaction screening platform. This platform will be digitally coupled with other autonomous reactors to accelerate the development and optimisation of pharmaceutical processes.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p style="text-align:justify; margin-bottom:11px">This project has two key objectives, each with its own significant academic research challenge:</p> <p>(i) Develop novel procedures for performing reaction screenings in continuous flow under process relevant conditions (see <a href=""></a> for an example of our previous work in this area). Automation will be achieved by integration of online analytics and the throughput improved by exploring methods for parallelising reactions. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>(ii) Investigate the use of machine learning methods for transfer learning between reaction screenings and process optimisations. The platform in part (i) will be digitally coupled with self-optimising systems to create a fully autonomous workflow, and the technology demonstrated towards the synthesis of pharmaceutically relevant compounds.</p> <p>This work will be conducted within the Institute of Process Research and Development (<a href=""></a>).</p>

<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 that you are applying for&nbsp;<em><strong>EPSRC DTP Engineering &amp; Physical Sciences</strong></em>&nbsp;(if you do not apply to this programme code, your application will not be considered), in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is <em><strong>Machine Learning Driven Reaction Screening in Continuous Flow</strong></em>&nbsp;as well as&nbsp;Dr Adam Clayton as your proposed supervisor and<em><strong> in the Finance Section, the funding source that you are applying for is</strong></em>&nbsp;<em><strong>EPSRC DTP Engineering &amp; Physical Sciences 2024/25: Chemistry</strong></em></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>Applications will be considered after the closing date. &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 29 April 2024:</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> </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 EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship offering the award of fees, together with a tax-free maintenance grant of &pound;19,237 for 3.5 years.&nbsp; Training and support will also be provided.</p> <p>This opportunity is open to UK applicants only.&nbsp; All candidates will be placed into the EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship Competition and selection is based on academic merit.</p> <p><em><strong>Important:&nbsp;</strong></em> Any costs associated with your arrival at the University of Leeds to start your PhD including flights, immigration health surcharge/medical insurance and Visa costs are <em><strong>not </strong></em>covered under this studentship.</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 style="text-align:justify; margin-bottom:11px">For further information about this project, please contact Dr Adam Clayton or Prof. Richard Bourne</p> <p>e: <a href=""></a></p> <p>e: <a href=""></a></p> <p>For further information about your application, please contact the Doctoral College Admissions</p> <p>e: <a href=""></a></p>

<h3 class="heading heading--sm">Linked funding opportunities</h3>