Isomerase Therapeutics Ltd - Research Assistant - Undergraduate Placement

Cambridge, Cambridgeshire
£20,000 per annum
03 Feb 2017
17 Feb 2017
Contract Type
Industrial Placement
Full Time

Gain invaluable industry experience working alongside a team of experienced analysts and chemists.

About the company

Isomerase Therapeutics is a drug discovery and development company based in Cambridge, with particular expertise in the discovery and development of optimised microbial natural products. The company has been developing state of the art technologies to rapidly generate novel natural products around defined targets that far surpass previous technologies in terms of throughput and efficiency. 
Natural products chemistry remains a key area for the discovery of new chemical entities for the pharmaceutical and associated life sciences. Despite a relative downturn in investment from the large pharmaceutical companies, the number of natural product derived or inspired drugs approved have remained broadly constant over the past two decades. Natural product biosynthesis has, for the past 10 years, provided a platform for chemists to generate novel chemical space around known natural products. Recently, advances in synthetic biology (facile and rapid genome sequencing, cheaper DNA synthesis) together with a renewed interest in natural products leave natural products chemistry and bioengineering in a compelling position.

Job Purpose

Demand for Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADCs) for research and medical use in recent years has led to high demand for certain natural products that display cytotoxic activity. Many of these compounds are derived from actinomycetes and fungal strains. The successful applicant will work to develop and refine a protocol that can be used to identify a range of these compounds from a range of production strains using just one standard method rather than the current process which is refined for each separate compound. Following screening of strains and identification of compounds the applicant will develop methods for extraction and isolation of these compounds (assessing different SPE cartridges and platforms). This will have a significant impact on the timelines and efficiencies of the underlying Isomerase technologies.
The successful applicant will work in the chemistry analysis and isolation departments alongside a team of experienced analysts and natural product chemists. The role will involve compound handling, extraction of compounds from biological cultures and developing new methods for doing so. They will perform HPLC and LC-MS analysis to screen samples for novel compounds and assess the robustness of the new processes.
The company encourages any findings to be published as appropriate and therefore, the successful applicant may be a co-author on publications that describe the overall technologies.

By the end of the placement, the successful candidate will:

  • Be able to define new methods that can be broadly implemented for extracting and analysing natural products from fermentation broths or solid growths. A key part of this learning will be the importance of solid experimental design in order to produce quality data.
  • Able to work independently to extract compounds from biological cultures, prepare samples for analysis and operate the HPLC and LC-MS.
  • Able to use the software to analyse samples for expected compounds and use their knowledge to investigate novel compounds.
  • Gain a fundamental understanding of reverse phase chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry and build upon their existing chemistry knowledge to provide interpretation of small molecule mass spectra. 
  • Work closely with other team members and be involved in project team meetings.
  • Able to plan activities independently by the end of the placement and able to identify areas where knowledge can be used to improve processes and seek advice from colleagues and scientific literature to implement changes.
  • Accurately document work, interpret results and report back to the project teams. 
  • Ability to troubleshoot and respond positively to advice from team members.
  • Gain a good understanding of the drug development process and an appreciation of working to changing priorities and deadlines.

Relevant Disciplines

UNDERGRADUATES only: Accredited Chemistry Degree course.

For further information regarding accredited courses, please visit:

Additional Information

Please ensure that you are willing and able to live within commutable distance of the company site before applying. This placement is located at Chesterford Research Park near Cambridge and there is a shuttle bus to the site from Cambridge station. The company benefits from an on-site canteen, gym and golf course.

Cogent Life Science Placements Service are managing the recruitment for this placement at our client's request, therefore we ask that applications are made through our website please.

The Royal Society of Chemistry is the world's leading chemistry community, advancing excellence in the chemical sciences. With 51,000 members and a worldwide knowledge business that spans the globe, it is the UK's professional body for chemical scientists; a not-for-profit organisation with 170 years of history and an international vision for the future. The Royal Society of Chemistry as part of its small companies programme, EnterprisePlus ( has granted a small number of companies funding to host a “year in industry” placement. Funding has been awarded in recognition of their ability to develop and mentor an undergraduate chemist and robustness of the project content and structure in terms of its scientific content and  what you will learn. This year, Isomerase Therapeutics Ltd is a well-deserved recipient of this prestigious funding. It is expected that if you are successful in being selected for this role that you are a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry by the time you start the placement. Royal Society of Chemistry membership is just £19 and you can join online at:

Please note: only UNDERGRADUATES will be considered for this placement

Closing date: 17/02/17