Research Associate- From peptides to catalysts exploring the emergence of function by ultrahigh throughput screening and mechanistic analysis (Fixed Term)

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A postdoctoral position is available for 18 months (in the first instance, extension possible) from the 1st February 2024 (or later) to work with Florian Hollfelder at the Biochemistry Department of Cambridge University (

The emergence of functional proteins from the primordial soup is defining the origin of life. This step is also the most enigmatic transition in the search for efficient biocatalysts and difficult to emulate in model experiments. Our recent work provides a clue how inactive scaffolds can be functionalised ( We want to use ultrahigh throughput screening in microfluidic droplets to find new catalysts and then analyse their features (e.g. catalytic promiscuity and conformational diversity) that first give rise to 'evolvability' and subsequently to efficiency. Deep sequence datasets from droplet screening will be interpreted using machine learning/AI approaches and, together with classical physical-organic/structural/mechanistic approaches, teach us where in sequence space novel solutions for sustainable biocatalysis can be harvested.

Applicants should thus have a first (or upper second) class degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry or a related, relevant subject, followed by a PhD. The project involves chemical and molecular biology techniques. Specific skills in mechanistic enzymology/enzyme kinetics, assay development, DNA library generation, structural biology, organic synthesis, high-throughput screening and microfluidic engineering are advantages, but will also be acquired during the postdoctoral training period.

Applications should contain a description of research interests (e.g. as part of the cover letter), a detailed CV (with exam marks and all relevant practical experience) and a list of publications. Please also include the names and email addresses of at least two referees, who are familiar with your research work.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 18 months in the first instance.

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Informal enquiries can be sent to Professor Hollfelder:

For any questions about this vacancy or the application process please contact:

Please quote reference PH38981 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

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