School of Chemical and Physical Sciences


PhD position – Organic/Medicinal Chemistry

Structure-guided discovery of a natural product-based kinase inhibitor

Natural products have provided the inspiration for many of the therapeutic drugs on the market, especially in cancer treatment.  The fungal metabolite, TAN-2483B, has an unusual furo[3,4-b]pyran structural core with unique stereochemical configuration.  We have recently discovered that an analogue of TAN-2483B selectively inhibits a kinase that is a validated drug target for leukaemia.  This project will seek to develop optimised kinase inhibitors from the TAN-2483B scaffold by means of kinase docking studies to inform the chemical synthesis of new TAN-2483B analogues.

The project is funded by the Maurice Wilkins Centre for Molecular Biodiscovery.  The successful applicant will join a vibrant organic chemistry research group at Victoria University of Wellington led by Joanne Harvey, and will conduct docking studies under the supervision of Jack Flanagan (University of Auckland) and Paul Teesdale-Spittle (Victoria). The scholarship will provide a full stipend of NZ$25,000 plus domestic tuition fees for three years.

This scholarship is open to New Zealand permanent residents. Prospective candidates should have a strong Master's or Honours degree with experience in synthetic organic chemistry, some understanding of computational chemistry, and good organisational, time management and communication skills. The successful candidate will gain experience in a wide range of modern organic chemical reactions, modelling of enzyme-ligand binding and relevant analytical techniques.

Enquiries and applications should be made to Dr Joanne Harvey. Applications must include: a current CV; an academic transcript (unless previous degrees are from Victoria); details of two referees who may be contacted to determine suitability; and a cover letter that describes the applicant’s view of their suitability for the position and how it will fit in with their future career plans.

Closing date: 15 April 2016.

There are currently no other funded positions available, but applications are welcome from students and post-doctoral fellows who have access to scholarships or other funding sources.

Applications for PhD positions from interntional students should be made through Victoria International.