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Activity-directed synthesis of bioactive small molecules

PGR-P-98

Key facts

Type of research degree
PhD
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Country eligibility
International (open to all nationalities, including the UK)
Funding
Competition funded
Supervisors
Professor Adam Nelson
Schools
School of Chemistry
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

The functional and structural diversity of natural products continues to inspire drug discovery and chemical biology. Natural products arise through the evolution of biosynthetic pathways, driven by functional benefit to the host organism. In stark contrast, most other bioactive molecules are discovered through optimisation rounds in which synthesis, purification and assaying are distinct activities.<br /> <br /> To expedite discovery, a narrow toolkit of reliable methods has emerged, tending to focus attention on a limited range of molecular scaffolds. Current discovery paradigms thus tend to discourage exploitation of the full power of modern synthetic methods. We have recently described a new discovery approach &amp;ndash; which we term activity-directed synthesis (ADS) &amp;ndash; in which novel bioactive small molecules emerge in parallel with associated syntheses. Distinctively, ADS harnesses the promiscuity of reactions that can yield alternative products. Although such reactions explore diverse chemical space, they are rarely exploited in current discovery approaches which generally require high-yielding reactions with predictable products. In each round of ADS, a reaction array is performed with outcomes that are critically dependent on the specific substrates/catalysts/conditions used. To steer reactions towards bioactive products, subsequent arrays are informed by the bioactivity of the product mixtures. Finally, reactions that yield highly active product mixtures are scaled up to reveal, after purification, the responsible bioactive structures. Thereby, ADS can enable adventurous and powerful synthetic methods to be exploited in the discovery of bioactive molecules in parallel with associated syntheses.<br /> <br /> The project will involve the expansion of the platform of chemical reactions that are configured for ADS, and the exploitation of ADS in the discovery of novel and diverse small molecules with specific biological functions.

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

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.leeds.ac.uk/info/130206/applying/91/applying_for_research_degrees">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is &lsquo;Activity-directed synthesis of bioactive small molecules&rsquo;&nbsp;as well as&nbsp;<a href="https://physicalsciences.leeds.ac.uk/staff/180/professor-adam-nelson">Professor Adam Nelson</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><strong>Self-Funding Students are welcome to apply.</strong></p> <p><strong>UK&nbsp;students</strong>&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;The&nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/138-leeds-doctoral-scholarships-2021-january-deadline">Leeds Doctoral Scholarship (January deadline)</a>&nbsp;and the&nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/118-lund-stephenson-clarke-scholarship-2021">Lund Stephenson Clarke Scholarship&nbsp;</a>are available to UK applicants. &nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/60-alumni-bursary">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p> <p><strong>International students</strong>&nbsp;&ndash;The&nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/48-china-scholarship-council-university-of-leeds-scholarships-2021">China Scholarship Council - University of Leeds Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to nationals of China. The&nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/73-leeds-marshall-scholarship">Leeds Marshall Scholarship</a>&nbsp;is available to support US citizens. &nbsp;<a href="https://phd.leeds.ac.uk/funding/60-alumni-bursary">Alumni Bursary</a> is available to graduates of the University of Leeds.</p>

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

<p>For further information regarding your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions by&nbsp;email: <a href="mailto:maps.pgr.admissions@leeds.ac.uk">maps.pgr.admissions</a><a href="mailto:EMAIL@leeds.ac.uk">@leeds.ac.uk</a>, or by telephone: +44 (0)113 343 5057.</p> <p>For further information regarding the project, please contact Professor Adam Nelson by email:&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href="mailto:A.S.Nelson@leeds.ac.uk">A.S.Nelson@leeds.ac.uk</a></p>