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PhD Opportunity

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PhD Opportunity

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PhD Opportunity

Marie Curie Early Stage Researcher (part of the ETN Targeted Anti-Cancer Therapies “TACT”):

“Chemical Biology – Development of technologies for the next generation protein-drug conjugates (PDC) with improved stability and selectivity.”

The role

Targeted Anti-Cancer Therapies’ (TACT) is a ‘European Training Network’ (ETN) research project that received funding by the European Commission under the ‘Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme’ and the ‘Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions’. As an international and multidisciplinary training and research doctoral programme, TACT will integrate the leading research scientists and laboratories in Europe to train 11 Early-Stage Researchers (ESRs) on the development of state-of-the-art targeted anti-cancer therapeutics and equip them with transferable, career-enhancing skills for both today’s academic and non-academic sectors. More specifically, TACT’s research programme will focus on key interconnected priority themes to develop new and more effective Protein-Drug Conjugates (PDCs): site-specific bioconjugation methods, more potent payloads, more efficient protein-based targeting systems and new analytical tools for improved characterization. The consortium, comprising nine beneficiary institutions from academia and industry, will each host and train at least one ESR, who will benefit from an unequalled scientific training across the field of PDCs via their main research projects, secondments at other institutions and network-wide meetings

The ESR project based at Almac Discovery’s site in Edinburgh will exploit protein chemistry and engineering for the development of next generation protein drug conjugates based on single domain proteins as the targeted moieties. A particular focus will be the investigation and development of new bi-specific modalities and the approaches and technologies to generating this exciting class of therapeutic agents. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the work the ESR will work closely with bioinformaticians, biologists and chemists at Discovery’s additional sites.

Working as part of the TACT European Research Network you will be enrolled as a PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and will be fully aligned with the QUB PhD programme whilst benefiting from the opportunity to gain industrial experience and expertise in drug discovery and protein therapeutic development. The successful candidate will also go on secondments (ca. 1-3 months) to different teams of the Targeted Anti-Cancer Therapies (TACT) Consortium.

The three year fixed term industrial PhD post will work on the following TACT project under the supervision of Professor Tim Harrison and Dr Graham Cotton with an expected start date of 1st October 2020:

“Chemical Biology – Development of technologies for the next generation protein-drug conjugates (PDC) with improved stability and selectivity.”



Criteria and further information

Applicants should be aware that the selection of candidates will be made in accordance with the eligibility criteria for the funding of Early Stage Researchers as determined by European Commission’s Marie Curie ITN funding rules. Candidates will possess a strong interest in interdisciplinary research and be willing to take part in various communication activities towards non-scientific public. They will have to be fluent in English, possess a high degree of self-organisation and be able to work collaboratively.


The researcher may be a national of a Member State of the Union, of an Associated Country or of any other third country listed here.


At the time of selection by the host institute, the Early Stage Researcher must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies etc.) in the country of the beneficiary (in this case the UK) for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to his/her appointment.  Short stays such as holidays are not taken into account.

Qualifications and Research Experience:

Early Stage Researchers must have, at the time of recruitment by the host institute, the first four years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers and have not been awarded a doctoral degree.  This is measured from the date when they obtained the degree which would formally entitle them to embark on a doctorate, either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country which the research training is provided, irrespective of whether or not a doctorate is envisaged.


Nationals of or residents in some countries, and for particular scientific fields, against which EU restrictive measures are in place, may be subject to EU sanctions.  A list of these countries can be found here.

Remuneration for this role will be in accordance with the Marie Curie fellowships’ scheme of the European Commission.

Further Information

Applicants can visit to visualize the different research projects proposed in this programme.

To apply

All applications must be sent by e-mail directly to Aisling McConaghy, Talent Acquisition Lead [email protected], quoting reference TACT2020 in the e-mail subject line.

Please note all applications must include the following information:

  • A one page CV
  • A motivation letter
  • Transcripts of undergraduate studies
  • Contacts of two references

Closing date for applications: 5pm, Monday 1st June 2020

Any further enquiries regarding the opportunity can be addressed to the Principal Investigator, Dr Graham Cotton at [email protected].

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