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Early Stage Researcher (PhD position) opportunity in Synthetic Glycobiology – ESR2: Mucin-like glycocalyx modules for creating complex artificial glycocalyxes

This job offer has expired

    The University of Leeds
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    07/01/2019 23:00 - Europe/London
    United Kingdom › Leeds
    H2020 / Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions
    synBIOcarb ESR2

Are you keen to progress research in glycoscience at the interface between chemistry, biology and physics, in the first four years of your research career and based outside the UK? Do you want to further your career and attain a PhD in one of the UK’s leading research intensive universities?

synBIOcarb is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network. It brings together 14 leading European partners in a transnational network, implementing a multidisciplinary and intersectorial research and training programme between the academic and the industrial partners in the fields of synthetic glycobiology.

Together, we will provide 15 early stage researchers (ESRs) with advanced scientific training in chemical synthesis, protein engineering, biophysics, cell biology and analytical device technologies that underpin the development and exploitation of glycoscience for diagnostics and targeted drug delivery. Each ESR will contribute to one, or more, of four thematic work packages that have been designed to progress the state of the art in Synthetic Glycobiology.

As an Early Stage Researcher in Leeds, you will undertake research in chemical and enzymatic synthesis of complex carbohydrates that can be used to develop tools for detecting toxins, parasites or antibodies against tumour antigens.

All cells are covered with a coating of complex carbohydrates (the glycocalyx) and many viruses, bacteria and protein toxins produced by bacteria exploit this sugar coating as a means of binding to and entering their target cells. The glycocalyx on many living cells extends >100 nm from the cell membrane, and its outer portion is dominated by proteoglycans and mucins which have extended and highly glycosylated structures. Interactions of proteins with these glycosylated structures is important for cellular interactions and also may influence the ability of bacterial toxins to reach their primary receptors on the cell membrane. The aim of this project is to construct artificial mucin-like structures that bear blood group antigens and/or tumour-associated carbohydrate antigens and to incorporate them into artificial cells (protocells) and biosensor arrays for protein binding experiments. Through this interdisciplinary project you will develop skills in chemical and enzymatic synthesis of carbohydrates; bioorthogonal ligation chemistry; biophysical techniques for measuring the affinity for molecular interactions; functionalization of biomimetic surfaces. Appropriate training will be provided in all areas that are new to the researcher.

The successful candidate will participate in the network’s training activities and work placements at the laboratories of the synBIOcarb academic and industrial teams. Regular meetings and workshops within the EU-funded synBIOcarb Innovative Training Network will supplement the training and support provided at the University of Leeds. Practical scientific training will be complemented by a coordinated programme of industry-relevant transferable skills that will prepare the ESRs for future careers in the medical technologies sector.

To meet the requirements of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network, you will be an early stage researcher within the first four years of your research career, have not yet been awarded a doctoral degree (PhD), and have not lived or carried out your main activity (work/study) in the UK for more than 12 months during the past three years.


This position is for 36 months. The Early Stage Researcher will be contractually employed by the University of Leeds. He or she will receive a Monthly Living Allowance plus a Mobility Allowance compliant with the applicable EC Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions-ITN general conditions.

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early Stage Researcher living and mobility allowance is fixed at €48,452 per annum (plus family allowance if applicable). This amount will be subject to tax and National Insurance deductions, and will be paid in UK Sterling (£) using an appropriate conversion rate.

Eligibility criteria


    Selection process

    Application procedure

    • You are required to apply to this post via the application webpage. Applications should be submitted on the advertised closing date.

    • In the supporting statements section, it is important to give specific examples for how you meet each criterion. As part of the online process, you will also need to upload a cover letter outlining why you want to join the project, a CV including the names and contact details of at least 2 references, and transcripts of your university record.

    • Informal inquiries can be made by email to w.b.turnbull@leeds.ac.uk indicating reference ‘synBIOcarb ESR2’ in the subject.

    Additional comments

    This post will be based in the laboratory of Prof Bruce Turnbull which belongs to the School of Chemistry (Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences), and the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology. You will collaborate with the laboratory of Dr. Ralf Richter which belongs to the School of Biomedical Sciences (Faculty of Biological Sciences), the School of Physics (Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences), which is also part of the Astbury Centre.

    Offer Requirements


    Applicants should bring skills/qualifications and meet eligibility criteria as follows:

    • Have a Diploma and/or a Master Degree in chemistry (or biochemistry with practical experience of enzymology).
    • Have less than 4 years research experience at the signature of the contract (measured from the time the Master’s degree has been obtained).
    • Not have a PhD already.
    • Not have resided or carried out main activity in the United Kingdom for more than 12 months in the last 3 years immediately prior to the reference recruitment date.
    • Excellent knowledge of the English language (spoken and written / proficiency level)
    • Training on required laboratory techniques will be provided through the synBIOcarb network. However, practical experience in either chemical or enzymatic synthesis of carbohydrates would be advantageous.

    Work location(s)
    1 position(s) available at
    The University of Leeds
    United Kingdom
    LS2 9JT
    Woodhouse Lane

    EURAXESS offer ID: 356313


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