A postdoctoral position is available for 12 months (with a possibility of extension) from 1 September 2018 (or later) to work with Florian Hollfelder based in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge on ultrahigh-throughput exploration of metagenomics libraries. Metagenomes comprise enormous reservoirs coding for proteins with useful activities, but harvesting this potential is difficult, because useful candidates are rare and hidden in an overwhelming majority of irrelevant genes. Traditionally screening campaigns of metagenomic libraries thus have required massive capital-expenditure for robotic systems and much manpower, making them expensive, slow and available to very few users.
We have shown (Colin et al. Nature Communications 2015, 6:10008. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10008) that exploration and exploitation of the metagenome is accelerated and made more successful by ultrahigh-throughput screening in picoliter droplets: allowing throughput of tens of millions of assays per hour, at dramatically lower cost (and work!) per assay. We now want to use this platform technology to identify enzymes for biosynthesis of therapeutic small molecules, for green bioenergy conversion, bioremediation, food chemistry and other industrial applications. The postdoc project involves establishment of suitable assays for these tasks in microdroplet format, building environmental metagenomics libraries and looking for new catalysts that are then characterised mechanistically and structurally.
Candidates with a background (and published track record) in protein engineering, mechanistic enzymology, organic synthesis and microfluidic engineering are especially welcome. The work is part of the EU Project 'Metafluidics' that involves collaborations with companies and academic groups in Spain, Denmark, Norway, France, Portugal and the UK.
The successful candidate should have (or be close to completion) a PhD in a relevant subject.
Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 1 years in the first instance.
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