Postdoctoral Research Assistants

Dundee City (GB)
27 Nov 2018
02 Jan 2019
Contract Type
Full Time


Postdoctoral Research Assistants

Closing date 02 January 2018

The Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) ( at the University of Dundee is seeking two driven, top tier postdoctoral scientists to join the DDU’s expanding Synthetic Methodologies Team These different but complementary roles will work together to develop approaches and methodology to broaden the chemistry methods and strategies available to the DDU medicinal chemistry teams within its drug discovery projects.

The DDU, is a “Biotech style organisation” of 100 dedicated multidisciplinary scientists that covers all aspects of drug discovery up to candidate selection. The Unit’s mission is to discover and expedite the development of new drugs for major diseases, e.g. malaria, TB, cancer, neurodegeneration, delivering a growing portfolio of development candidates. The Unit is housed in a state-of-the-art building, with cutting-edge equipment and automation for drug discovery and is part of the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research (WCAIR).

The roles:-

Development of plate based chemistry:- This position is to develop and establish in house methodology in the field of plate based chemistry to optimise reaction conditions and synthesise compound arrays. A major aspect will be your vision in identifying the best methods to conduct reaction types and development of an understanding of likely reaction performance. In addition, working with computational medicinal chemistry you will help to develop a number of reagent and monomer sets in a format that enables chemists to both cover appropriate chemical space and also to locate reagents rapidly. Finally you will work with compound management to enable the liquid handling required to deliver the reagents to reaction plates and run synthetic arrays for screening in the most efficient manner possible.

Exploration of chemical diversity from fragments and hits using a common intermediate:- This position is to develop and establish in-house expertise in rapid fragment diversification. This project will use literature searching and automated synthesis route evaluation programmes to identify multiple reactions that can be applied to single functional group types (for instance, but not limited to, halides) to add a broad range of medicinal chemistry relevant functional groups. Wet chemistry will be used to scope out which of these reactions can be applied broadly across the multiple scaffold types in our compound libraries. The chemistry developed will be used for rapid diversification of fragment hits identified from screening and for increasing the diversity of our in-house screening collections. Ultimately the desire is to automate the chemical synthesis using reaction plates.

The roles will require the successful candidates to use their thorough knowledge of traditional and up to date synthetic methods, hands on experience of a wide range of practical organic chemistry, and an ability to apply pragmatic solutions to develop efficient routes and methods towards arrays. In addition, you will work with colleagues in analytical, informatics, computation chemistry and medicinal chemistry to ensure that the methods chosen are fit for purpose within the wider organisation.

The roles require you to be self-starting, to enjoy creative problem solving and work in new ways where required in order to deliver the project goals. 

You will have the opportunity to help advance an internal culture of scientific excellence by identifying and championing emerging trends in the field, establishing yourself as a synthetic methodology expert and mentoring and supporting scientists within the DDU.

These posts are for one year initially and available immediately.

Skills and Knowledge:-


  • Ph.D. in chemistry or equivalent experience in organic synthesis
  • Demonstrable knowledge of up to date methods and a wide knowledge of contemporary chemistry
  • Experience of multistep synthesis of compound libraries.
  • Demonstrated expertise in organic chemistry principles
  • Maintenance of a strong external network in the academic community
  • A willingness to work flexibly to meet milestones
  • Good time management and organisational skills
  • Strong interpersonal, communication and presentation skills


  • A knowledge of informatics e.g. Pipeline Pilot, knime or equivalents
  • A knowledge of the use of multifactorial design for reaction optimisation
  • Experience of the use of lab automation
  • General IT skills
  • Familiarity with programming and lab automation

Appointment as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant on the Grade 7 salary scale is dependent upon you having been awarded a PhD. An appointment may be considered if you are shortly expected to be awarded a PhD. The initial appointment will be made as a Research Assistant on the Training Grade 7 salary scale (Spinal Point 28, £31,302).

A few facts about The School of Life Sciences at Dundee:

  • The School of Life Sciences has over 900 research and support staff from 59 countries and external funding in excess of £40 million per year
  • Dundee has twice been named ‘the best place to work in Europe’ in a poll of scientists conducted by The Scientist magazine
  • The University of Dundee achieved the highest aggregate rating in Biology among all UK Universities in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment.

Dundee, set on the east coast of Scotland, lies in an area of outstanding natural beauty, including large sandy beaches and challenging hills.

The diversity of our staff and students helps to make the University of Dundee one of the top universities in the UK. Family friendly policies, staff support networks for BME and LGBT staff, membership of Athena SWAN and Stonewall, as well a full range of disability services, create an enjoyable and inclusive place to work.

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