[Expired] 2 PhD positions : Targeted Antimicrobial Supramolecular Metallodrug Discovery Platform (UCD, Dublin, Ireland)

Applications are invited from suitably qualified candidates for two PhD positions in chemistry under the supervision of Dr Joseph Byrne, School of Chemistry, University College Dublin. These positions, funded by the Irish Research Council, are available to start as soon as possible after January 2023.

Project Description

The LINK4LECTIN project will develop a modular strategy for discovery of new antimicrobial agents. New diagnostic and therapeutic tools against bacteria are urgently needed to face the growing global challenge of antimicrobial resistance. This project will establish a strategy for modular tuning and optimisation of hybrid metallodrug candidates for this purpose. The PhD students will synthesise families of compound, which pair the bacterial protein-targeting ability of glycoconjugates with bioactive metal complexes. If successful, you will focus on design and synthesis of new families of catenanes/rotaxanes as well as carbohydrate-derivatives (Project 1), or metal complexes (Project 2) for antimicrobial medicinal chemistry applications in this interdisciplinary project.

Information about the research team

The Byrne Group is a growing bioinorganic chemistry research group that targets carbohydrate-protein interactions to build new diagnostic and therapeutic tools for bacterial infections. Our work is at the interface of carbohydrate chemistry and inorganic chemistry. More information is available at www.byrneresearch.com and www.ucd.ie/chem

Description of your role

We are looking for two enthusiastic researchers who can take initiative and lead work on a new project. As a PhD student, you will join a growing research group, and you will contribute to the LINK4LECTIN project under the supervision of the Principal Investigator, Dr Byrne. This exciting research will focus on design, organic synthesis and characterisation of supramolecular mechanically-interlocked systems, and either carbohydrate-derivatives (Project 1), or metal coordination complexes (Project 2). Your role will require analysis of data from NMR, Mass Spectroscopy, UV/Vis absorption and emission spectroscopy, antimicrobial and biofilm inhibition assays, and confocal/fluorescent microscopy. As part of a structured PhD programme, you will enhance your research portfolio through subject-specific training and gaining transferrable skills. There may be opportunities to travel to collaborators’ labs for training, as well as to international conferences. You will carry out research in the lab with curiosity and enthusiasm. You will actively engage with colleagues in the School Chemistry, the wider UCD community, and collaborators to maximise the impact of your research.


  • Undertake research as directed by the PI, designing and synthesising mechanically-interlocked molecules, carbohydrate derivatives and/or metal complexes, and establishing their antimicrobial or bio-imaging behaviour
  • Perform fundamental research towards the completion of your doctoral thesis: including preparing, conducting and recording the outcome of experiments; developing appropriate research methods; writing up results in the form of reports, manuscripts and thesis chapters
  • Enrol in Structured PhD programme (Dublin Chemistry), and complete all necessary credits for your progression (including requirement to contribute to teaching undergraduates)
  • Read academic papers, journals and textbooks to keep abreast of developments in your own specialism and related fields
  • Responsibly use material resources within the project budget
  • Contribute to the broader activities of the research team (group meetings, health and safety, student supervision, maintenance of equipment, etc.), the School and the University
  • Deliver presentations at national and international conferences and meetings, and undertake outreach activities relevant to LINK4LECTIN
  • Contribute to publishing data in leading journals and/or protect new intellectual property
  • Perform research in accordance with the university’s research integrity policy, the project data management policy and other relevant policies
  • Carry out any other duties required by PI for the successful implementation of the project

Essential requirements

  • MSc in synthetic chemistry, or related area (complete or submitted). An experienced BSc graduate who has demonstrated outstanding performance will also be considered
  • Motivation and willingness to take initiative in developing research projects
  • Experience in multi-step chemical synthesis, purification and characterisation (particularly use of NMR spectroscopy and column chromatography or organic molecules)
  • A demonstrated interest in one or more of (i) supramolecular chemistry; (ii) carbohydrate chemistry; (iii) metal coordination chemistry
  • Strong interpersonal skills and ability to work well within a collaborative team
  • Excellent verbal and written English language communication skills (minimum requirements)
  • Demonstrated strong organisational skills

Desirable requirements

  • Additional training in medicinal chemistry and/or cell-culture techniques
  • Relevant university or industry research lab experience will be an advantage
  • Familiarity with equality, diversity and inclusion activities or media engagement

Funding Notes

Scholarship: €18,500 per annum (tax-free stipend) with an additional contribution of €5,750 towards fees/levies as per IRC awards regulations. All nationalities may apply (it may be possible to arrange to support non-EU fees). Travel to appropriate conferences, research trips and/or training secondments may also be funded.

To Apply

Applications must be send by email to . Applications must contain “Link4Lectin-PhD” in the subject line and the 3 documents below, or will not be considered:

  1. Cover letter: A detailed personal statement including your motivation for applying for this particular studentship (please indicate experience matching either Project 1 or 2)
  2. Sample of own independent written work: A PDF copy of independent writing in the area of chemistry (e.g. BSc research report, MSc thesis chapter)
  3. CV (including contact details of two referees): Include a list of experience, any awards or publications and evidence of excellent academic performance to date. Include all grades in CV. Please specifically detail any experience and skills in the area of synthetic chemistry.
  4. Closing date for receipt of applications is 5.00 pm, 24 November 2022

Suitable candidates will be invited to interview for the position and arrangements for a start date made with the successful candidate. Interviews will take place virtually.

We reserve the right to re-advertise or extend the closing date for this post. Due to the high volume of interest, we cannot guarantee feedback to all applications. UCD is an equal opportunities employer, and candidates of all backgrounds and genders are encouraged to apply