University of Dundee

Structural Biology / Biophysics Scientists (PROTAC drug discovery)

Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery
Job Reference: 
Closing Date: 
Friday, June 5, 2020
Grade 7 (£32,817 - £40,322)

The School of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee is a world-class academic institution with a reputation for the excellence of its research, its high quality teaching and student experience, and the strong impact of its activities outside academia. With 900 staff from over 60 countries worldwide the School provides a dynamic, multi-national, collegiate and diverse environment with state-of-the-art laboratory, technology and teaching facilities.

We are seeking two highly motivated scientists with research experience in structural biology and/or biophysics to join a multi-disciplinary drug discovery team based within Dundee’s School of Life Sciences, under the auspices of our new Protein Degradation Centre. The team is engaged in an exciting collaboration on proteolysis-targeting chimeras (PROTAC) drug discovery between Professor Alessio Ciulli ( and Boehringer Ingelheim. Our mission is to discover novel small-molecule degraders to treat cancer and other human diseases with serious unmet medical needs. The scientists will be expected to augment and expand the structure and biophysics guided approaches the team are taking to accelerate translation of research in this field and to develop degrader drug candidates.

The posts are available to start on 1st September 2020, although earlier start dates may be accommodated. Salary will depend on experience and will be on the Grade 7 salary scale (£32,817 - £40,322). This is a unique opportunity to gain experience in world-leading industry-style drug discovery within an academic setting. The positions are available for 3 years.

Appointment 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, and in this case the initial appointment would be made on the Training Grade 7 salary scale (Spinal Point 25 - 28 £29,176 - £31,866).

The Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery Division and Drug Discovery Unit operate on an external funding basis. The Principal Investigators within these units are highly successful in securing external funding for their multi-disciplinary and highly collaborative research and activities.

Informal enquiries may be made to Professor Alessio Ciulli, email:

Role Responsibilities:

  • Characterise the binding of small molecule bifunctional degraders to their target protein and E3 ligases using X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy and/or cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) amongst other structural methods.
  • Design constructs and prepare proteins to enable compound evaluation via a broad spectrum of biochemical and biophysical techniques.
  • Execute and optimize biophysical and biochemical assays in vitro to profile novel compounds (including but not limited to proximity and fluorescence-based assays, ITC, and SPR)
  • Carry out data analysis and relevant quality assurance protocols
  • Develop team science across the collaboration, working with colleagues across disciplines to enable breakthroughs.
  • Present findings to the collaboration team and externally at international conferences
  • Stay current with scientific literature in the rapidly growing PROTAC field
  • Report directly to the Team Leader (Will Farnaby) and to the Principal Investigator (Alessio Ciulli)

Required Skills:

  • Ph.D. in structural biology, biophysics, biochemistry, chemical biology or a related discipline
  • Strong background in structural biology and biophysics, with an emphasis on structure-based drug design. 
  • Strong skills in molecular biology (construct design, cloning etc.), protein expression and purification
  • Experience with protein crystallization, X-ray data collection (in-house and at synchrotrons), structure solution and model refinement, and/or protein NMR spectroscopy, and/or cryo-EM.
  • Strong interpersonal, communication and presentation skills

Preferred skills:

  • Outstanding academic or industrial track records
  • Experience with working with multi-protein complexes
  • Experience with biophysical techniques to study protein-ligand and protein-protein interaction
  • Strong data science and computational skills

Apply Here

The new Protein Degradation Centre is located in a beautiful setting overlooking the estuary of the River Tay. It is part of a growing Life Sciences Innovation District, an ecosystem of organisations and people within the life sciences sector in Dundee driving innovation and local economic growth. The Centre is embedded within the University of Dundee’s School of Life Sciences, one of the premier research centres in the world recently assessed as the top UK University for Life Sciences research in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). The University of Dundee main city-centre campus is at the heart of Dundee - an up-and-coming, friendly, compact and affordable city with a rich heritage in design and technology. Just a short walk from the V&A Museum of Design Dundee, we’re close to both the train and bus stations.

The diversity of our staff and students helps to make the University of Dundee a UK university of choice for undergraduate, postgraduate and distance learning. Family friendly policies, staff networks for BME, Disabled and LGBT staff, membership of Athena SWAN, the ECU Race Equality Charter and Stonewall as well a full range of disability services, create an enjoyable and inclusive place to work.