University of Dundee

Postdoctoral Research Assistant (Development of Chemical Probes for E3 Ligases)

Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery
Job Reference: 
Closing Date: 
Saturday, July 10, 2021
Grade 7 (£32,817 - £40,322)

Summary of Job Purpose and Principal Duties

We are seeking an ambitious and scientifically-creative postdoctoral researcher with experience in medicinal/organic chemistry to join the laboratory of Alessio Ciulli, based in a new Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation (CeTPD) within Dundee’s School of Life Sciences ( For more information on our laboratory see

The successful candidate will join a diverse, fast-paced and collaborative team based within the Ciulli group to contribute to multi-disciplinary projects as part of EUbOPEN ( EUbOPEN is a multi-partner, highly collaborative consortium recently established and funded for 5 years by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) to enable and unlock biology in the open.

The scientist will be expected to design, synthesise and optimize small-molecule binding ligands and chemical probes (drug-like inhibitors) that target E3 ligases, enzymes that tag substrate proteins with ubiquitin. The ultimate goal of the project is to qualify high-affinity, selective and cell-active small molecules as tool compounds to investigate the E3 ligase target’s biology, and as starting points for conjugation into bifunctional degrader molecules, also known as proteolysis-targeting chimeras (PROTACs), co-opting novel E3 ligases for targeted protein degradation. This is a unique opportunity to gain experience in world-leading, collaborative and cutting-edge research in one of the hottest area of modern translational chemical biology and drug discovery within an academic setting with an open-science ethos.

Summary of Skills, Experience and Qualifications


  • A PhD in organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, chemical biology or a related discipline is required.
  • High level of expertise in synthetic organic chemistry and synthetic route design.
  • Strong interpersonal, communication and presentation skills.
  • A demonstrated ability to problem-solve within a team environment.
  • An open and collaborative approach to science

Preferred skills:

  • Experience with fragment-based and structure-based drug design.
  • Experience with studying and targeting protein-ligand and protein-protein interactions
  • Outstanding academic or industrial track records
  • Exceptional time management, organisational and self-motivational skills

The new Protein Degradation Centre 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 has a track record of redefining new models of research in translational chemical biology, such as innovative academia-industry collaborations (Boehringer Ingelheim, Eisai amongst others) and spin-out companies (Amphista therapeutics). The Protein Degradation Centre is located in a beautiful setting overlooking the estuary of the River Tay. They are 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 EUbOPEN consortium is an Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) funded project to enable and unlock biology in the open. The consortium comprises 22 different partner organisations, including universities, research institutes, European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) members, and one small and medium-sized enterprise (SME). Goethe University Frankfurt and Boehringer Ingelheim are jointly leading the EUbOPEN consortium. Other partner organizations are Bayer AG, Diamond Light Source, EMBL-EBI, ETH Zürich, Fraunhofer IME, Georg-Speyer-Haus, Karolinska Institutet, Leiden University Medical Center, McGill University, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Pfizer, Royal Institute of Technology, Servier, the Structural Genomics Consortium, Takeda, University of Dundee, University of North Carolina, University of Oxford, and University of Toronto. EUbOPEN will run for five years and will have a total budget of 65.8 million euros covered by a grant from the IMI and cash and in-kind contributions from the EFPIA companies, IMI Associated Partners and non-EU partners.

The IMI is Europe's largest public-private initiative aiming to speed up the development of better and safer medicines for patients. IMI supports collaborative research projects and builds networks of industrial and academic experts in order to boost pharmaceutical innovation in Europe. IMI is a joint undertaking between the European Union and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

As an internationally diverse institution, we welcome job applicants from all countries and nationalities. The School of Life Sciences is proud to employ staff from over 40 different nations.  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.

Any Additional Information

The post is available to start immediately, with funding available until 31st August 2023 in the first instance, which may be extendable dependent on project progress and funding. Salary will depend on experience and will be up to £40,322.

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 would be made as a Research Assistant on the Training Grade 7 salary scale (Spinal Point 25 - 28 £29,176 - £31,866).

The Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery Division and Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation 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, e-mail:

The Closing Date is midnight on 10th July 2021.

For further information or to apply for this position please click here