Chemistry Scholarships

The Department typically admits 65-70 PhD and 90 - 100 MRes students each year. Funding for these students comes from a diverse range of sources, including the EPSRC, industry, scholarships and self-funded students. A selection of PhD Studentships currently available are detailed below or visit our other pages to find out more about MRes studentships.

Accordion - available studentships

Targeting a critical vulnerability of metastatic cancer through chemical biology

Supervisors: Prof Ed Tate (Imperial and the Francis Crick Institute (FCI), chemical biology), Prof Julian Downward (Head of Lung Cancer Biology at ICR, Associate Director at the FCI), Prof Jyoti Choudhary (ICR, Head of Functional Proteomics), Prof Raj Chopra (ICR, Director of CRUK Cancer Therapeutics Unit).

 Email contact: Website:

 This 4-year PhD studentship is funded by Cancer Research UK, and is open to all residents of the EU/EEA and Switzerland; it offers an enhanced tax-free stipend of £21000 pa, plus support for research and conference travel. We require an outstanding Masters level chemist, medicinal chemist or chemical biologist, with some research experience in synthetic chemistry and/or chemical biology, and a strong interest in developing and applying novel chemical tools in the context of cancer. Please email your CV and cover letter to Prof Ed Tate to initiate the application process.

 Acylation of cysteine residues is a reversible and widespread post-translational modification (PTM) regulating processes including trafficking, protein-protein/membrane interactions, membrane architecture and protein domain stabilisation. 24 mammalian PATs have been identified to date, and isoform dysregulation has been linked to diseases including cancer; but current technologies to investigate PAT activity and substrates on a proteome-wide scale in cancer models are limited in scope. We have recently discovered that a specific PAT is critical for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cell (PDAC) metastasis and tumour development in vivo. Patients who develop PDAC have very limited treatment options, and the 5% survival rate has not improved in over 25 years, and thus there is a pressing need for new treatment options. This discovery presents an exciting opportunity to understand the role of PAT activity in this very aggressive cancer type, with the aim of validating the PAT and/or its substrates as first in class drug targets in PDAC and potentially other cancers, including metastatic lung cancer.

 As the student on this project you will be at the centre of a multidisciplinary collaboration in which you will design, synthesise and test optimised chemical probes to reveal the role of this PAT, making a key contribution to its validation as a potential drug target. Your work will include developing new, broadly applicable chemical biology and chemical proteomics approaches to identify and explore PAT substrates, and studies towards the discovery of the first inhibitors for this class of emerging targets. Your research will be based between the lead supervisors’ labs at the Francis Crick Institute, the Institute of Cancer Research, and the new state of the art Molecular Sciences Research Hub at Imperial’s White City campus. You will receive training in all aspects of chemical synthesis, protein biochemistry, cell biology, proteomics, cancer biology, imaging and in vivo models. You will also benefit from membership of the joint ICR/Imperial Cancer Research Centre of Excellence and the Imperial Institute of Chemical Biology.

 T. Lanyon-Hogg, M. Faronato, R. A. Serwa and E. W. Tate, “Dynamic Protein Acylation: New Substrates, Mechanisms, and Drug Targets”, Trends in Biochemical Sciences, 2017, 42.

  • M. Broncel, et al. and E. W. Tate, “Multifunctional reagents for quantitative proteome-wide analysis of protein modification in human cells and dynamic profiling of protein lipidation during vertebrate development”, Angew Chem Int Ed Engl, 2015, 54, 5948-5951.

  • E. Thinon, R. A. Serwa, et al. and E. W. Tate, “Global profiling of co- and post-translationally N-myristoylated proteomes in human cells”, Nat Commun, 2014, 5, 4919.

  • R. Fritsch, I. de Krijger, K. Fritsch, R. George, B. Reason, M. S. Kumar, M. Diefenbacher, G. Stamp and J. Downward, “RAS and RHO families of GTPases directly regulate distinct phosphoinositide 3-kinase isoforms”, Cell, 2013, 153, 1050-1063.

PhD studentship in advanced materials from biomass: strong carbon fibres from lignin

PhD Studentship in Advanced Materials from Biomass: Strong Carbon Fibres from Lignin

We are inviting highly motivated candidates for a PhD studentship in the field of “Strong carbon fibres from lignin”. The studentship includes fees and a bursary for UK/EU nationals for the duration of 3 years. The start date is 1 October 2018 or earlier if required.

Carbon fibre reinforced composites are strong and durable materials that are surprisingly light-weight. They can be used to construct cars, planes and wind turbine blades. Carbon fibres are traditionally made from the fossil fuel-derived precursor polyacrylonitrile (PAN) in an expensive, energy-intensive process involving toxic chemicals. If this is not addressed, the use of carbon fibre composites will continue to receive criticism for poor environmental impact and the high cost production limit their reach.

Lignin is a major component in wood and the largest by-product of the production of sustainable biofuels from wood. Currently, utilisation of lignin is almost non-existent, but this will change through technological advances. Creating strong carbon fibres from lignin has the potential to reduce the environmental impact of carbon fibre production and also drastically cut the cost of carbon fibres by more than 75%. The challenge is the low strength of the lignin-derived carbon fibres produced to date. This is due to poor control of the lignin properties such as subunit composition, functional groups, molecular weight and branching. The biopolymer needs to be more carefully understood and controlled before it can be used successfully as a source of renewable carbon fibres.

The goal of this project is to generate tailored lignins using a novel lignin isolation process (ionosolv process). The ionosolv process uses ionic liquids, a group of non-volatile solvents that are capable of extracting and modifying lignins very effectively. You will characterise the lignins from a variety of sources and extrude them into lignin fibres and ultimately convert them to carbon fibres. You will analyse the relationship between the structure of the lignins and the resulting carbon fibres in detail and introduce modifications that improve fibre spinning and carbonisation. The project is cross-disciplinary, marrying the fields of synthetic chemistry, materials science, Green Chemistry and biology and it also provides contact with chemical engineering and commercial thinking.

The successful candidate will join a dynamic research team focusing on carbon-based assemblies and composites at Imperial College London (; the group has a strong activity in the chemistry, processing, and applications of nanocarbons. Applicants should have solid knowledge in physical science, with an interest in carbon materials from biomass, combined with good teamwork and communication skills; experience in organic synthetic chemistry is beneficial. Candidates should have (or be expecting to have) a Master’s degree (1st class or upper second class or equivalent) in materials, chemistry, or a relevant discipline.

For further details of the post, please contact Dr Agi Brandt-Talbot, Applicants will be required to complete an electronic application form.

PhD in the development of mechanically interlocked sensors

Mechanically interlocked molecules, such as rotaxanes and catenanes, have become increasingly of interest over the last four decades. The ability of the interlocked components to move relative to one another has inspired investigation into their potential uses in myriad areas.1 This was recently recognised through the award of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to two pioneers in this field: Sir Fraser Stoddart and Jean-Pierre Sauvage.

One particular area of focus is their use as novel sensors for anions and cations.2 However, their use as detectors of small molecules has been largely overlooked. With the need for increasingly sensitive, portable and cheap detection of explosives an ever pressing matter, this project will aim to prepare novel materials for the detection of these hazardous chemicals.

James Lewis is an independent Imperial College Research Fellow at Imperial College London; the group conducts research in various areas of supramolecular chemistry, including mechanically interlocked molecules and self-assembling systems. The Lewis Group is housed within the Fuchter Group laboratory, and the project will be jointly supervised by Dr James Lewis and Dr Matthew Fuchter.

The successful candidate will be involved in the design, synthesis and testing of mechanically interlocked molecules as sensors for explosive compounds. The detection of explosive molecules by the interlocked sensors will result in mechanical motion that will induce a change in the electronic absorption/emission properties of the sensor. This is a multi-disciplinary project that will involve aspects of both synthesis and spectroscopic analysis.

Applicants should be UK/EU citizens and have or be expecting to obtain a first or upper second class degree in chemistry. You should be an enthusiastic and highly motivated individual with experience in synthetic organic chemistry. Experience with single crystal X-ray diffraction and UV-vis/fluorescence spectroscopy would be advantageous but is not essential.

Applications, including a full CV and the contact details of at least two referees, should be sent to Dr James Lewis at The scholarship covers fees and a stipend paid at the RCUK doctoral stipend rate (2017 value £16,553 per annum, inclusive of London weighting) to start in October 2018.

Group website:  


1J. E. M. Lewis, M. Galli, S. M. Goldup, Chem. Commun. 2017, 53, 298.

2M. J. Langton, P. D. Beer, Acc. Chem. Res. 2014, 47, 1935.

Plastic Electronics Centre for Doctoral Training

Studentships in the Plastic Electronics Centre for Doctoral Training

Fully funded and self-funding multi-disciplinary 1+3 year (MRes+PhD) studentships are available in the Plastic Electronics EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT), for October 2018 start.  This year we have fully-funded projects supervised by Prof James Durrant, Prof Milo Shaffer and Prof Martin Heeney.

Full details of all the projects available and more information about the Plastic Electronics CDT are available on the PE-CDT website.  The PE-CDT is part of the Centre for Plastic Electronics.

You will need to apply via Apply.Imperial under the course code F3U8B.  For more information, please contact Ms Lisa Cheung (PE-CDT Administrator): 


A chemical biology approach to target protein lipidation in development and neurodegenerative disease

Supervisors: Dr Jean-Paul Vincent (the Francis Crick Institute) and Prof Ed Tate (Department of Chemistry, Imperial College)

Email: Website:

Email: Website:

Applications are invited for a fully-funded 4-year PhD studentship, as part of the Crick PhD programme, aiming to develop and apply chemical tools to understand the role of reversible lipidation in protein secretion and signalling. Please note, non-EU applicants are not eligible for the funding for this project.

Lipidation is a common post-translational modification that modulates the activity of intracellular proteins. Recently, a small number of lipidated extracellular proteins have been identified. One such class is the Wnt protein family, which activates a conserved signalling pathway required for development and stem cell maintenance. In the context of disease, Wnt plays a critical role in cell proliferation and stem cell maintenance, with dysregulation of Wnt signalling important in both proliferative (e.g. cancers) and degenerative (e.g. Alzheimer's Disease) diseases. During biosynthesis, palmitoleate is specifically appended to Wnts, and without this modification Wnts are poorly secreted and unable to activate downstream signalling. Recent ground-breaking work from the Vincent lab has shown that a deacylase called Notum inactivates Wnts in the extracellular space, providing a new paradigm for how lipidation can regulate signalling activity for secreted proteins. Targeting the activity of Notum could be used to boost Wnt signalling in a therapeutic setting, for example to increase stem cell proliferation or stimulate synaptogenesis in Alzheimer's Disease.

Our ability to study protein lipidation has undergone a transformation with the development of modern chemical biology approaches, an area in which the Tate group has made key advances. You will design and implement a rich array of chemical tools to address the pressing challenge of understanding the roles of reversible lipidation in protein secretion and signalling, and enable novel insights into Wnt lipidation and trafficking in both disease and normal development. These tools will range from activity-based probes for lipid processing enzymes, to probes which can capture lipidated proteins and their interacting partners in living system, and will be implemented in cultured cells and in whole tissues from animal models. Thanks to the use of orthogonal chemical tagging technologies developed by the Tate lab, these will be applied to imaging, detection and de novo discovery of active enzymes, substrates and interactors through chemical proteomics.

Talented and motivated students passionate about research in both chemistry and biology are invited to apply for this PhD position. The student will benefit from interactions with members of both research groups based at the Crick Institute, and members of the Tate group at Imperial College in the new Molecular Sciences Research Hub at the Imperial College White City campus.

For full details of the post see

Closing date: The online application deadline is 12:00 (noon) 14th November 2017 

Studentships in the Institute of Chemical Biology (ICB) Centre for Doctoral Training

Fully funded 1+3 year (MRes + PhD) studentships are available at the ICB Centre for Doctoral Training for entry October 2018.

This year we will have many co-funded studentships with industry as well as fully funded CDT studentships.

For full details please see - :

You will need to apply via Apply.Imperial under the course code F1ICB [Chemical Biology: Multi-Disciplinary Physical Scientists (1plus3) (MRes 1YFT + PhD 3YFT)|F1ICB|1|SK|FT|CN)].

PhD in the computational modelling of supramolecular materials

PhD in the computational modelling of supramolecular materials 

A 36 month PhD position in computational chemistry is available within the research group of Dr. Kim Jelfs ( for a project focusing upon developing methods to predict the assembly, structure and function of supramolecular materials, including both polymeric and organic molecular materials. Possible applications of the research might include predicting the likely structure of amorphous polymers or crystalline molecular solids and the link between the structure and properties of such materials, including functions related to their porosity or optoelectronic properties. This research will involve the use of a range of computational chemistry methods, including forcefield-based methods and electronic structure calculations, as well as some development of small-scale in-house software. This project will build upon recent research in the group, see for example Nature Materials 2016 (DOI: 10.1038/nmat4638) or publications listed at 

The position is available to both UK and EU graduates with a good degree in a relevant subject (Chemistry, Physics or Materials Science). Previous experience with computational chemistry or physics methods is not a requirement but can be an advantage.

Interested applicants are encouraged to contact Dr. Kim Jelfs ( by email, along with a CV. This position is available for October 2017

PhD Studentship in Graphene Chemistry, Characterisation and Composites

Duration: 36 months

Supervisor: Professor Milo Shaffer

We are inviting motivated candidates for a PhD studentship in the exciting field of “Graphene Chemistry, Characterisation, and Composites”. The studentship includes fees and a bursary for suitable UK/EU nationals for the duration of 3 years. The studentship is available for an immediate start.

Intrinsically, ideal graphene and related materials (GRMs) have exceptional properties and offer the potential for fundamental improvements in a wide range of applications. The ability to manifest these properties in useful macroscopic applications is intimately linked to the manufacturing processes and modification chemistry involved, which determine the nature and quality of the GRMs produced, as well as the extent of their dispersion in solvents (for inks) or matrices (for composites). The aim of the project will be to better understand the nature of GRM based products, using advanced techniques to map the locus of functionalization, and the three dimensional dispersion/orientation within, for example, polymer matrices. Advanced techniques such as nanoscale tomography will provide fundamental new insight, but cannot be used routinely in a manufacturing context. Thus, the goal will be to relate this type of detailed characterisation to more accessible physical properties, such a conductivity or viscosity. The project will complement “TheLink”, a new EU-funded Marie Curie network with a major node at Imperial, which is addressing similar issues in carbon nanotube systems. The application of functionalised GRMs to composites is a particular interest, and there will be the opportunity to explore the combination of GRMs with conventional carbon fibres, to create hierarchical composites.

You will join a dynamic research team focusing on hierarchical assemblies and composites, at Imperial College London (; the group has a strong activity in the chemistry, processing, and applications of nanocarbons. Applicants should have solid knowledge in physical science, with an interest in nanomaterials, combined with good teamwork and communication skills; experience of electron microscopy or mapping spectroscopy would be an advantage but is not essential. Candidates should have (or be expecting to have) a Master’s degree (1st class or upper second class) in materials, physics, chemistry, or relevant discipline. 

This PhD studentship is funded by the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and is open to UK home students or European students who have spent the last five years in the UK.  The studentship will cover tuition fees plus the standard maintenance stipend of £16,296 per year. It is expected that the project will also be eligible for a £3000 CASE top-up as part of a collaboration with a leading company in the field.

 How to apply:

The prospectus, entry requirements and application form (under ‘how to apply’) are available at:

 For further details of the post, please contact Professor Milo Shaffer at  Applicants will be required to complete an electronic application form.

 The prospectus, entry requirements and application form (under ‘how to apply’) are available at:

Closing date: 31 December 2016, or until filled.

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PhDs in Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry

PhDs in Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry

Two 36-month PhD positions in synthetic inorganic and organometallic chemistry are available within the research group of Professor Nicholas Long (

The first position features the synthesis and application of redox-active/stereoselective catalysts for polymerisation. The work will involve a range of synthetic organometallic and inorganic coordination chemistry techniques and working with a Schlenk line, as well as spectroscopic and electrochemical characterisation. The project is in collaboration with Prof. Charlotte Williams (Oxford) and builds upon recent research in the group, see for example Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., (53) 9226-9230 2014; J. Am. Chem. Soc., (134) 20577-20580 2012.

The second position involves the synthesis and evaluation of new inorganic compounds for molecular imaging, particularly dual-modal imaging.   The project will feature the synthesis of new organic ligands and chelates, and their metal coordination chemistry with transition metals and lanthanides.   Applications will be evaluated in collaboration with biomedical collaborators and will involve optical imaging, magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography.  The work builds on recent research in the group e.g. Chem. Eur. J. (21) 5023-5033 2015; Angew. Chem Int. Ed., (53) 9550-9554 2014.

The positions are available to both UK and EU graduates with a 1st or 2:1 class UG degree in Chemistry. Previous experience with synthetic inorganic/organometallic chemistry and/or biomedical imaging is not a requirement but would be an advantage.

Interested applicants should contact Prof. Long ( by email, along with a CV and the contact details of two referees. These positions are available for October 2018. 

PhD Vacancy in Nanostructures, Hierarchical Assemblies and Composites (UK/EU)

Synthesis of hierarchical carbon nanotube/graphene networks as catalyst supports.

Carbon allotropes (such as nanotubes and graphenes) are widely regarded as a crucial new material in a wide variety of application s. Their high aspect ratio, robustness, chemical stability, conductivity, and high surface area, allows them to for m unique networks or scaffolds, at a hier archy of lengthscales, relevant to electrodes and catalyst supports. Nature already assembles materials at every length scale from the molecular to the macroscopic, demonstrating the value of this approach. Although we lack nature’s dexterity, we can use a wider range of ch em istry that is not necessarily compatible with physiological conditions. This project will explore the use of new carbon allotrope chemistries to produce controlled hierarchical networks that will act as active catalyst supports for anionic layered double hydroxides (LDHs). LDHs have general composition [M(II)1−xM(III)x(OH)2]x+[Am−x/m.nH2O]x- and are widely used as solid-state bases. The project will explore the effects of different support materials on the nanomorphology and activity of the supported catalysts towards gas sorption and specific gas phase reactions. Previous res earch has shown that small particle size (< 100nm) produces materials with the highest surface areas and edge/defect densities which leads to good adsorption kinetics and rapid regeneration. Our recent results on the use of such systems for carbon dioxide sorption have shown large increases in capacity and cycle stability. Further improvements are anticipated in this and other environmentally-relevant contexts, by enhancing the design of the supporting carbon structure.

The project requires a skilled chemist/materials scientist, ideally with experience both of materials chemistry (synthesis) and physical methods for assessing catalysts and sorbents, at graduate level.

The studentship award will cover tuition fees (UK/EU) and a tax-free maintenance stipend (including London weighting) of approximately £15000 per year. Overseas (non-EU) students may apply, though the additional overseas fees will not be included. Applications are invited from students with an appropriate background in materials chemistry, with an interest in nanomaterials. Candidates should have received at least a 2:1 in their first degree.

To apply for any of these project please send a c.v . and details of at least two referees to Prof. Milo Shaffer, Department of Chemistry, Imperial College, South Kensington, London, SW7 2AZ