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[ccp4bb] PhD position in Structural Biology, University of Essex

Dear all,

We are looking for a highly motivated and talented PhD student for a project in the area of peroxidase biochemistry and crystallography, funded by the estate of the late Prof. Peter Nicholls. The student will be based at the University of Essex under the supervision of Mike Hough, Jonathan Worrall and Dimitri Svistunenko. 

I would be very grateful if you could circulate this to any potential candidates that you are aware of. 

Many thanks,




Illuminating the catalytic, structural and mechanistic features of a new class of haem peroxidases to dye for

Dye decolourising peroxidases (DyPs) are the most recent family of haem peroxidase to be discovered. The oxidizing potential of these enzymes is driven by the formation of ferryl intermediates, formed on H2O2 activation, that enable them to oxidize synthetic dye molecules widely used in the textile industry. Some DyPs have been implicated in biomass deconstruction through the oxidative breakdown of lignocellulose. Thus, DyPs have vast potential for use in biotechnology applications. At present, detailed catalytic and substrate reactivity information is sparse across the four sub-families (A to D) of DyPs and there is a strong need to address this to maximize future commercial applications.

At Essex we have identified an A-type DyP from Streptomyces lividans and have characterised its catalytic cycle and unusual dye decolourisation properties. Further to this, our X-ray structural work (including in-crystal generation of relevant intermediates) and EPR spectroscopy of transiently formed free radicals and high-valence haem states have informed on potential substrate binding sites and electron-transfer pathways. The overarching aim of this studentship is to extend these experimental approaches across several DyP sub-families incorporating new structural and fast reaction methodologies, such as state of the art synchrotron beamlines and time-resolved X-ray crystallography as well as rapid freeze-quench EPR for kinetics studies, to characterise the high-valence catalytic intermediates and tailor this knowledge to generate designer enzymes for commercial applications.

 The successful candidate will work under the supervision of Dr Jonathan Worrall, Dr Mike Hough and Dr Dimitri Svistunenko in the Protein Structure & Function Group in the School of Biological Sciences, University of Essex.


Entry requirements and application procedures

Informal queries may be addressed in the first instance to jworrall@essex.ac.uk or mahough@essex.ac.uk or svist@essex.ac.uk. Applications should be submitted electronically by the 30th June 2017. See https://www.essex.ac.uk/pgapply/enter.aspx for details. The intended start date for this 3-year, fully-funded PhD studentship is 5th October 2017. This scholarship will be to the value of £12,500 per annum plus UK/EU tuition fees.

Applicants should write 500 words explaining why they are interested in this project and submit this with their CV.


This scholarship is generously supported by a bequest from the estate of Professor Peter Nicholls (https://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2014/dec/30/peter-nicholls-obituary)