Convergent evolution of enzyme function (WILKINSON_J18DTP1)

John Innes Centre
October 06 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

The chorismate biosynthetic pathway is required for the production of aromatic amino acids, essential building blocks of life.

However, on numerous occasions microbes have hijacked this pathway and diverted it to produce molecules that include many lifesaving drugs such as the antibiotic rifamycin, used in the treatment of TB, and immunosuppressive agents such as rapamycin. Such compounds are fundamental to modern medicine and without them many procedures that we take for granted would not be possible.

Being ever thrifty, in order to hijack this pathway Nature uses existing enzymes from the chorismate pathway and re-purposes them for the new task. In some cases the evolution of different enzymes from the pathway has converged to produce the same new product.

The studentship will investigate this process with the ultimate goal of bioengineering enzymes to carry out new functions, enabling the production of valuable new 'non-natural', natural products for use in medicine, for example as new antibiotics.

The successful candidate will have access to cutting-edge research facilities as well as a stimulating research and training environment. They will be part of an interdisciplinary team and through the project will gain an excellent foundation in protein evolution, molecular microbiology, x-ray crystallography and synthetic biology.

The combination of skills and experience provided by this studentship will make the successful candidate highly employable in academia or industry.

This project has been shortlisted for funding by the Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP). Shortlisted applicants will be interviewed as part of the studentship competition. Candidates will be interviewed on either the 9th, 10th or 11th January 2018.

The Norwich Biosciences Doctoral Training Partnership (NRPDTP) offers postgraduates the opportunity to undertake a 4 year research project whilst enhancing professional development and research skills through a comprehensive training programme. You will join a vibrant community of world-leading researchers. All NRPDTP students undertake a three month professional internship (PIPS) during their study. The internship offers exciting and invaluable work experience designed to enhance professional development. Full support and advice will be provided by our Professional Internship team. Students with, or expecting to attain, at least an upper second class honours degree, or equivalent, are invited to apply.

For further information and to apply, please visit our website:

Funding notes

Full Studentships cover a stipend (RCUK rate: £14,553pa - 2017/8), research costs and tuition fees at UK/EU rate, and are available to UK and EU students who meet the UK residency requirements.

Students from EU countries who do not meet the UK residency requirements may be eligible for a fees-only award. Students in receipt of a fees-only award will be eligible for a maintenance stipend awarded by the NRPDTP Bioscience Doctoral Scholarships, which when combined will equal a full studentship. To be eligible students must meet the EU residency requirements. Details on eligibility for funding on the BBSRC website:

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess

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