Novel Approaches to Proton Pumping Pyrophosphatases (ESR4)

Applications are invited for an Early Stage Researcher (ESR)/PhD studentship position funded by The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Innovative Training Networks (ITN) programme “Rationalising Membrane Protein Crystallisation” (RAMP) and based in the Faculty of Biological Sciences, Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology at the University of Leeds.

Integral membrane proteins have essential cellular functions, but understanding their mechanism is difficult because they are hard to express and crystallise. This PhD project is one of 12 in this training network. Other PhD students in the RAMP network will work with other membrane proteins, develop advanced methods for crystallisation and modelling of the membrane protein crystallisation process.

This is structural biology project that focuses on applying rational and novel crystallisation approaches to understanding the mechanism of integral membrane pyrophosphatases, including the use of novel caged pyrophosphate compounds to follow the mechanism, and neutron crystallography to identify proton positions. The work builds on our recent papers (Kellosaloet al. & Goldman.,Science337, 473-476 (2012); Li et al. & Goldman, Nat Commun7, 13596 (2016)). The project will involve secondments to other network partners with specialised crystallisation and crystallography expertise, such as Molecular Dimensions, the European Spallation Source and the Hamburg Centre for Ultrafast Imgaging, and be cosupervised by Tony Savill of Molecular Dimensions Ltd.

This project will involve crystallisation and structure solution of integral membrane pyrophosphatases proteins, building on the existing expertise in the group in this particular family of membrane proteins. Crystals will be studied at national and international synchrotrons, neutron sources and free electron lasers.

Applicants should have or be about to obtain a BSc in Biochemistry/Chemistry or a related discipline. Additional professional qualifications or experience, or a Masters degree, will obviously be advantageous.

Candidates must comply with both EU and the University of Leeds eligibility criteria. Due to the EU rules to promote mobility, you are not eligible for a position in a country where you have lived (worked, studied) for more than 12 months in the last 3 years. You are eligible for this position, unless you have studied or worked in the UK for more than 12 of the last 36 months. For applicants finishing or who have just finished their degree, this typically means that you can be graduating from any university except a UK university.

Further details on this project are available from Professor Adrian Goldman (

Author: Richard Sear

Computational physicist at the University of Surrey. My research interests are in crystallisation, soft matter & biological physics