Enzyme Optimisation, Scale-up and Application Testing: Ester and Amide Modification of Anionic Polysaccharides for Use in Home Care Formulations

Reference number: CCPR127


A PhD studentship is available to work on a multidisciplinary project led by Dr Andrew Carnell in collaboration with Unilever on the discovery and development of enzymes for application in the sustainable synthesis of key ingredients in home care products.  The is a fully funded BBSRC CTP Studentship and will involve working on industrially relevant targets and spending a minimum of 3 months placement with Unilever in the Materials Innovation factory (MIF) at Liverpool.   In the project you will to explore the potential for enzyme-catalysed modification of polysaccharides to deliver improved properties of bio-based detergents. This will include developing new enzymes to work under aqueous or mixed solvent conditions.  These will be tested and lead enzymes used as templates for sequence-based screening to develop optimised enzymes.  Enzyme selection will be based on ease of expression and robustness for large scale application, including thermostability, solvent tolerance and potential for immobilisation.  This will be combined with detailed computational modelling and iterative mutagenesis to predict and develop robust and scalable industrial biocatalysts. Scale-up of both enzymes and polysaccharide modification will be necessary to produce samples for testing in state-of-the-art robotic performance assays. Results will deepen our understanding of which structural changes can be made to polysaccharides that yield better performance and formulation stability yet still maintain the polymers facile biodegradation.

This highly multi-disciplinary project will combine biocatalysis, molecular biology, computational biology and polymer chemistry.  You will receive training in all aspects of the project in world class research environment with access to state-of-the-art facilities for biocatalysis (Dr Carnell, Department of Chemistry), computational Biology (Professor Daniel Rigden, Institute of Systems, Molecular and Integrative Biology) and gene synthesis and screening (Liverpool GeneMill).  You will also spend a period of time working with Unilever in the Materials Innovation Factory to test the materials you make.   You will work within a highly motivated group engaged in the development of enzymes for industrial biotechnology. You will present your work at regular interdisciplinary research group meetings and at national conferences.

You should hold or expect to hold a first class or high 2:1 or equivalent in chemistry (MChem), biochemistry or molecular biology or related (Masters or BSc).  Experience of lab work in molecular biology, protein biochemistry, computational biology would be an advantage but not a pre-requisite.  Informal enquiries can be made to Dr Andrew Carnell (acarnell@liverpool.ac.uk).

This position is available from 1st October 2024.

https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-research/how-to-apply/  Please ensure you quote reference CCPR127 in your online application and in any correspondence