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Studentship with MedImmune/AstraZeneca (Fixed Term)


This is a 1+3 MRes + PhD studentship funded by MedImmune/AstraZeneca to start in October 2019 and is open to eligible UK and EU applicants. The project is a collaborative research program between the Terahertz Applications Group at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge and MedImmune/ AstraZeneca.

In organic molecular crystals terahertz radiation interacts with vibrational modes that extend across large domains of a crystal lattice. This makes terahertz spectroscopy a very powerful technique to study the presence and nature of interactions between molecules. By directly exploring the dynamics in the far-infrared, i.e. at relatively low frequencies in the context of vibrational spectroscopy, terahertz spectroscopy is complementary to crystallography techniques that are long-established to resolve the molecular structure of organic crystals: in contrast to the average position of the different atoms that make up the crystal, terahertz spectroscopy can provide crucial insight into the molecular motion and dynamics. Given that the terahertz vibrations correspond to large amplitude vibrations that transverse large areas of the potential energy surface, subtle variations of mass or bond strength have significant impact on the spectral features. As a consequence, terahertz spectra serve as a highly sensitive probe of disorder, which is oftentimes very difficult to resolve with commonly used crystallographic techniques. Using terahertz spectroscopy, it is possible to determine the onset and extent of molecular mobility in disordered molecular solids. As a result terahertz spectroscopy an ideal complementary technique to a range of other techniques, such as neutron inelastic scattering, as well as other spectroscopies such as dielectric spectroscopy.

Polymeric nano/micro-particles are used to deliver active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) due to their high loading capability and their biocompatibility. Understanding the interaction between polymer and drug is key to their design, affecting drug encapsulation and release, particle biodistribution and degradation.

This project aims to assess temperature dependent terahertz time-domain spectroscopy (THz-TDS) as a tool to measure drug-polymer interaction to optimise the design of these polymeric microparticles.

You will be part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Sensor Technologies and Applications (http://cdt.sensors.cam.ac.uk), which has a yearly intake of around ten students. During the first year you will participate in a highly interdisciplinary taught course consisting of lectures, practicals and research projects covering a wide range of technologies and applications in sensing and imaging as well as business related courses. Successful completion of the first year will lead to a Master of Research qualification (MRes) after which you will be optimally prepared for your MedImmune/AstraZeneca PhD project in years 2-4.

The ideal candidate will have a 1st or upper 2nd class degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline such as chemical engineering, physics, chemistry, pharmacy or engineering, and experience in cross-disciplinary work. Any prior experience in laboratory research work, spectroscopy, data analysis using Matlab or computational methods is greatly appreciated but not a strict requirement. This is a multidisciplinary project and the successful candidate will benefit from an extensive peer-group of researchers, as well as an important interaction between academia and industry. More information about the research project can be found at: http://thz.ceb.cam.ac.uk

For informal enquiries please contact Prof. Axel Zeitler (jaz22@cam.ac.uk).

The deadline for applications is 21st January 2019.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 4 years in the first instance.

Please note that the funding for this studentship is available for UK and EU applicants only. To apply for this position, please send the following to gw403@cam.ac.uk by 12:00 (UK time) on 21st January 2019:

  • Cover letter (1-2 pages)
  • A detailed curriculum vitae
  • Transcripts and/or degree certificates that include numerical details of grades obtained in relevant examinations/courses. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered; please ensure you submit your documents in good time. The successful candidate will be expected to formally apply for admission to the University of Cambridge as a PhD student and meet any conditions of admission set by the University. More information can be found at: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/

Please quote reference NQ17444 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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