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Fully-funded PhD Studentship in Chemical Biology and Glycobiology

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"Development of tools for glycan analysis and quantitative sialic acid glycomics"
Reference number: OU2

Studentships cover full-time fees and a stipend (currently £14,296 per annum) for three years, plus a Research Training and Support Grant of up to £1,000 per annum, for three years.

Complex sugars decorate the surface of cells and proteins. They modulate and control numerous processes within the cell, such as the binding of pathogens and cell-cell signalling. In a clinical setting, changes in these patterns of sugars are often observed as a result of disease. Because of this, they can be used as diagnostics and to monitor disease progression. In addition, many current and emergent biopharmaceuticals (such as erythropoietin and monoclonal antibodies) are decorated with complex sugar structures. Changes in the patterns of these sugars influence the activity, stability and safety of therapeutic proteins in the body.

Sugar chains found on the surface of proteins are often terminated with sialic acid. In a clinical setting, increased levels of sialic acids has been linked with cancer and cancer staging, whilst in the production of biopharmaceuticals, changes in sialic acid distribution can have significant impact upon the behaviour of such drugs. The accurate and quantitative characterisation of sugars containing sialic acids is therefore exceptionally important. Analysis of these sugars represents a considerable challenge.

Using a combination of biochemical, chemical biology and analytical approaches (including cell-based systems and genome editing), this project seeks to develop methodology for the analysis and manipulation of sialic acid containing glycans. You will examine the incorporation of labelled sugars and amino acids into complex glycoproteins. This will enable quantitative analyses of changes in sialic acid containing sugars by mass spectrometric approaches.

You will acquire a wide range of skills in chemical biology, biochemistry, cell biology and analytical sciences and have the opportunity to interact throughout their program of study with academic and industrial collaborators.

Application forms can be found here:

Closing date:
29th July 2016. 
Interviews will be held at The Open University (or via Skype)

Applicants will have:
Good undergraduate degree in biochemistry, chemistry, life sciences or a related discipline.The Open University campus in Milton Keynes provides a friendly and flexible working environment for all of its staff and students.

Eligibility is restricted to nationals of the UK, EU or EEA.

Contact detail

How to apply:
If you would like to apply, please provide a completed application form, an up-to-date CV and a personal statement describing your suitability for the project.

Applications should be sent by email to:

Please ensure you include reference number OU2 in your application. 

Application forms can be found here: 

Closing date
29th July 2016. 
Interviews will be held at The Open University (or via Skype)
Send application to
Informal enquiries relating to the project or candidate suitability should be directed to sarah.allman@open.ac.uk 

This project will be supervised by Dr Sarah Allman: http://www.open.ac.uk/people/saa438

Job profile

Working hours
Contract duration
Type of job
PhD Project
Work experience
job experience is not required
United Kingdom
Working place
MK7 6AA Milton Keynes
Area of expertise
Chemistry, Biology & Life Sciences, Biotechnology