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Microscale and Segmented Processes Towards A Carbon Negative Vision of Process Optimisation


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Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Project start date
Friday 1 October 2021
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Source of funding
Research council
Dr Richard Bourne and Dr Thomas Chamberlain
Additional supervisors
Prof. John Blacker
School of Chemical and Process Engineering
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

In this project we will use new Industry 4.0 capabilities to drive more rapid<br /> discovery and optimisation of chemical processes to facilitate the move toward a carbon negative vision by utilising microvolume pulses in flow reactors for automated chemical development.<br /> <br /> This project aims to deliver microscale automation for the next generation of medicine development by developing Industry 4.0 platforms capable of optimising multi-operation sequences (unlocking purification and complex chemistry) throughout drug development pipelines. The challenge of improving chemistry productivity in both discovery and development is heightened by the increasing complexity of small-molecule drugs. Testing key hypotheses in drug development programmes requires efficient access to specific, carefully-designed routes that require multiple cycles of synthesis optimisation. The vast majority of such routes currently need to be evaluated manually, often via lengthy time-consuming experimentation, because current automated chemistry capabilities are restricted to single-step syntheses involving homogenous reactions. As a consequence, current practices induce medicinal chemists to harness a narrow toolkit of reliable chemistry which limits the diversity of molecules that may be explored. This greater molecular<br /> complexity has also driven an increase in the length of manufacturing routes (from 8 to 16 steps on average in the last decade). The rapid identification of a manufacturing route, and its regulatory approval, is critical, and accelerated clinical trials can force adoption of sub-optimal routes. Removal of a single manufacturing step (typical yield: 90%) would reduce costs and waste by ~10%, a benefit that is compounded for every step removed.<br /> <br /> The ability to move rapidly from drug discovery through to commercially-viable manufacturing is vital in delivering new drugs to patients. Yet, many decisions made during discovery have unforeseen consequences on manufacturing: frequently, synthetic routes have to be re-designed, which can lead to inefficient processes (time, cost, environmental burden). Our accelerated approach will retain the essential goal of each stage within the development pipeline, but address the difficult transition from large numbers of compounds to a single clinical candidate.<br /> This project is part of an initiative at the University of Leeds with AstraZeneca and UCB Pharma supporting 4 PhD positions and a PDRA starting in 2021.

<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>.&nbsp;&nbsp;Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is&nbsp;<em><strong>Microscale and Segmented Processes Towards A Carbon Negative Vision of Process Optimisation</strong></em>&nbsp;as well as&nbsp;<a href=""><strong>Dr&nbsp;Richard Bourne</strong></a>&nbsp;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>We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.</em></p>

<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>A highly competitive EPSRC Industrial Case Studentship supported by Astra Zeneca&nbsp;consisting of the award of fees with a maintenance grant of &pound;15,609&nbsp;for session 2021/22&nbsp;for 4 years with an additional stipend of &pound;3,000 per year.<br /> <br /> This opportunity is open to UK applicants only.&nbsp;All candidates will be placed into the EPSRC Industrial Case Studentship competition and selection is based on academic merit.<br /> <br /> The&nbsp;<a href="">UKCISA</a>&nbsp;website will be updated in due course with information regarding Fee Status for Non-UK Nationals starting from September/October 2021.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

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

<p>For further information regarding the project, please contact Dr Richard Bourne<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a>,&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <p>For further information regarding your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p>

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