Synthesis of inhibitors of mycobacterial cytochrome P450s

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Supervisor – Professor James De

This project will undertake the synthesis of a range of complex steroid derivates as inhibitors of a family of cytochrome P450s. These particular enzymes catalyse the first key step of the cholesterol degradation pathway in some bacteria. Understanding the bioinorganic and bioorganic chemistry and the inhibition of these enzymes is crucial to the development of new chemicals to prevent infection of humans or crops. Several of the bacteria targeted are potent human pathogens that cause for example, the global pandemic tuberculosis and Buruli ulcer, a serious skin disease on the rise in Australia. Due to the critical role of cholesterol in bacterial growth and the potential for inhibition using analogs of this steroid, the increased understanding of the cholesterol degradation pathway revealed by this project may have far reaching consequences for medical and biotechnology researchers and companies developing applications in the future. 

Key to the project will be the ability to take readily available steroidal precursors and synthetically modify them to produce a range of derivatives to test as both substrates and inhibitors of these P450 enzymes.

Preferred educational background

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of organic synthesis, spectroscopic and spectrometric characterisation of organic compounds would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of organic chemistry and/or biochemistry and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of organic synthesis is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 1, 2022. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

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