PhD Studentship: The Development of New Peptide and Peptoid Based Treatments for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)

Duration: 39 months
Starting: October 2019

Project Description

Project Supervisor: Associate Professor Steven Cobb (@Cobb_Group)

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are a significant global health burden, affecting approximately one-sixth of the world’s population. The illnesses classified as NTDs by the World Health Organization (WHO) include conditions that have historically been overlooked by international public health efforts, leading to insufficient prevention and treatment options. These diseases are typically endemic in resource-poor, developing countries where populations have limited access to healthcare, and a lack of resources to tackle the disease. NTDs such as leishmaniasis and Chagas disease are infections caused by insect vector-borne protozoan parasites. Combined, these vector-borne diseases affect some of the world’s poorest communities, particularly in tropical and sub-tropical regions. In addition to the mortality of these diseases, they can cause severe disfigurement or long-term disability leading to significant social and economic consequences.

The PhD project will build on our previous work in the area of leishmaniasis [see Cobb, et al. J. Pept. Sci., 2011, 17, 75; Molecules, 2015, 20, 2775; ChemMedChem, 2015, 10, 233 and MedChemComm, 2016, 7, 799] and it will also involve a new collaboration with Professor Ariel Silber (expert in Chagas disease, University of São Paulo, Brazil). The project will adopt both chemical and biological tools to elucidate the mode of action by which previously identified peptides and peptoids function with the view to validating new drug targets for the treatment of both leishmanaisis and Chagas disease. The successful candidate will be trained in a range of both chemical and biological techniques and while the project will be based in Durham aspects of the work will be carried out on secondment in the Silber laboratory in Brazil.

Keywords – organic synthesis, peptide chemistry, chemical-biology, neglected tropical diseases


Applicants will need to be in possession of an undergraduate degree at a 2:1 honours level or above (or equivalent) in a discipline directly relevant to the research areas of chemistry and biology. Due to funding, the position is only open to both UK and International students.


Interested applicants should send a CV (no longer than 2 pages, and should include the contact details of 2 references) and a short cover letter to Steven Cobb (Email – [email protected])

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