1. SWBIO four-year studentship starting 2019 – ‘The life-cycle of IGF2 and its isoforms’

The overall aim of this PhD studentship is to obtain further detailed knowledge of the structure and function of the enzymes (PC-4 and insulin degrading enzyme, IDE) involved in processing and clearance of the insulin growth factor-2 (IGF2) and its ‘BIG’ isoforms.

Insulin and Insulin-like growth factors (IGFs) are a family of proteins that share sequence and structural homology. Insulin is produced in the pancreas and is well known for its role in controlling blood glucose levels whereas IGF2’s role lies principally in fetal growth and development and in adults is produced at a basal level in the liver and is thought to be important for regulating cell growth as well as metabolism. IGF2 has drawn considerable interest due to high circulating levels of this mitogenic peptide being associated with hypoglycaemia and is implicated in several cancers.


This interdisciplinary project will combine the expertise and training from chemists, biochemists, mass spectrometrists, structural biologists, molecular modellers to elucidate how key components of the IGF2 processing pathway work to both produce and clear IGF2 isoforms.

If you are interested in applying please contact me on


2. Title: Synthetic biology routes to the design and manufacture of multi-functional furan based self-healing materials

October 17th update – THIS IS STILL AVAILABLE.

My good colleague, Dr Paul Race, does have a studentship vacancy as of August 2018 to start immediately. Please see details below. This is only available to UK students. Please see information below.


Self-healing materials that recover shape and integrity following damage are highly sought after for use in engineering, defence, and biomedical applications. Amongst the most promising self-healing materials are those based on furan containing polymers. These molecules possess both practical mechanical properties and rewritable shape memory behaviour, exhibiting trigger independent self-healing on the minute timescale. In a previously funded DSTL PhD studentship the applicants successfully elucidated the biosynthetic pathway to the furan containing bacterial cofactor methanofuran and demonstrated the feasibility of using enzymes from this pathway to generate furan containing polymers with the ability to form covalent furan-malamide cross-links in vitro. These data unambiguously establish the feasibility of using our synbio furan polymers as the basis for a self-healing material/coating system. Here we propose to further extend the scope of these studies by engineering selected methanofuran pathway enzymes to enable access to a suite of functionally optimised multi-purpose furan polymers for use as self-healing materials and/or coatings.









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