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Postgraduate research project

Bioinspired total synthesis of complex natural products

Fully funded (UK and international)
Type of degree
Doctor of Philosophy
Entry requirements
2:1 honours degree View full entry requirements
Faculty graduate school
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
Closing date

About the project

The School of Chemistry is offering a fully funded PhD studentship to a highly motivated candidate to start in September 2024. This research project aims to develop new ways of constructing 3-dimensionally complex natural products using strategies inspired by their biosynthesis. 

The use of natural products as antibiotics and anticancer agents has revolutionised human healthcare. However, many natural products are highly complex molecules isolated in minute amounts from their natural source. The total synthesis of these molecules is therefore crucial to allow their future application in medicine.

We will target the synthesis of natural products of mixed biosynthetic pathways in which the dearomatization of aromatic rings converts simple, flat structures into stereochemically complex molecules.

This work will expand the toolkit of complexity-generating organic reactions that can be applied in medicinal chemistry.

Research in the George Group

The student will carry out their doctoral research in the George Group, which has recently moved to the University of Southampton.

We have developed many concise, biomimetic total syntheses of complex molecules – some of which are summarised in the Biomimetic Dearomatization Strategies in the Total Synthesis of Meroterpenoid Natural Products review.

Sometimes our synthetic routes are used to help decipher biosynthetic pathways in collaboration with biochemists (examples include A unifying paradigm for naphthoquinone-based meroterpenoid (bio)synthesis and Total Synthesis Establishes the Biosynthetic Pathway to the Naphterpin and Marinone Natural Products).

Into our total synthesis projects, we have also integrated modern methods of

The project will involve the biosynthetically-inspired structure revision of natural products, and sometimes even the prediction and isolation of new natural products.

We also develop bioinspired synthetic methodology for the rapid construction of molecular complexity.

Our ultimate goal is to discover new ways to make complex natural products as quickly and easily as possible; sometimes achieving this in just one step (A bioinspired, one-step total synthesis of peshawaraquinone).

Training and mentoring

You will receive expert training in synthetic organic chemistry and other specialist areas as required by the project, either from the George Group or appropriate collaborators.

You will also gain extensive experience of a range of analytical techniques including advanced Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) analysis and single crystal x-ray diffraction. 

We'll mentor you in writing high-impact publications and delivering engaging scientific presentations.