Skip to main content

Postgraduate research project

Chemically modified therapeutic nucleic acids for neurological diseases

Fully funded (UK only)
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

This project will synthesise and investigate different chemical modifications of oligonucleotides. Your aim will be to synthesise modified monomers and incorporate them in modified nucleic acids. You will investigate their biophysical and biological properties. 

Therapeutic oligonucleotides are unique in targeting mRNA, particularly those that cannot be targeted by conventional small molecule drugs or therapeutic antibodies. This has lead to rapid growth in their potential. 

The development and application of therapeutic nucleic acids are being investigated by several biotech companies, following the mRNA vaccine research team winning the 2023 Nobel Prize in Medicine. 

More than 18 nucleic acid therapeutics have been approved for treatment of various diseases including neurological diseases. The main limitation in the therapeutic application of nucleic acids is in achieving specific and efficient intracellular delivery. Despite various strategies being developed, tissue specific delivery is yet far from being solved. 

The findings of this project will represent a critical leap forward in modified nucleic acids to improve their stability and efficacy in cells and enhance their delivery with enormous impact for different neurological diseases.

You will join a dynamic and enthusiastic group at the School of Chemistry in Southampton to work on a challenging project at the interface of chemistry and biology. You will benefit from the outstanding facilities and vibrant environment provided by the department. We have a national and international reputation for excellence with world-leading facilities. 

You will have the opportunity to visit collaborator’s labs for cell-based assays in Southampton and Oxford. You'll also acquire skills and knowledge in:

  • solid phase oligonucleotide synthesis
  • biophysical and biochemical assays including UV, florescence, machine learning and cell biology
  • structural techniques such as X-ray crystallography


to top