University of Dundee

Postdoctoral Research Assistant (Synthetic Methodologies)

Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery
Job Reference: 
Closing Date: 
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Grade 7 (£32,817 - £40,322)

Summary of Job Purpose and Principal Duties

The Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) at the University of Dundee is seeking a driven, top tier postdoctoral scientist to join the DDU’s Synthetic Methodologies Team to develop approaches and methodology to broaden the chemistry methods and strategies available to the DDU medicinal chemistry teams within its drug discovery projects.

The DDU, is a “Biotech style organisation” of 100 dedicated multidisciplinary scientists that covers all aspects of drug discovery up to candidate selection. The Unit’s mission is to discover and expedite the development of new drugs for major diseases, e.g. malaria, TB, cancer, neurodegeneration, delivering a growing portfolio of development candidates. The Unit is housed in a state-of-the-art building, with cutting-edge equipment and automation for drug discovery.

The Role:

Exploration of chemical diversity from fragments and hits using a common intermediate: - This position is to develop and establish in-house expertise in rapid fragment diversification. This project will use literature searching and automated synthesis route evaluation programmes to identify multiple reactions that can be applied to single functional group types (for instance, but not limited to, halides) to add a broad range of medicinal chemistry relevant functional groups. Wet chemistry will be used to scope out which of these reactions can be applied broadly across the multiple scaffold types in our compound libraries. The chemistry developed will be used for rapid diversification of fragment hits identified from screening and for increasing the diversity of our in-house screening collections. Ultimately the desire is to automate the chemical synthesis using reaction plates.

The role will require the successful candidate to use their thorough knowledge of traditional and up to date synthetic methods, hands on experience of a wide range of practical organic chemistry, and an ability to apply pragmatic solutions to develop efficient routes and methods towards arrays. In addition, you will work with colleagues in analytical, informatics, computation chemistry and medicinal chemistry to ensure that the methods chosen are fit for purpose within the wider organisation.

The role will require you to be self-starting, to enjoy creative problem solving and work in new ways where required in order to deliver the project goals.

You will have the opportunity to help advance an internal culture of scientific excellence by identifying and championing emerging trends in the field, establishing yourself as a synthetic methodology expert and mentoring and supporting scientists within the DDU.

The position is fixed-term, with funding available until 31st March 2022.

Summary of Skills, Experience and Qualifications


  • Ph.D. in chemistry or equivalent experience in organic synthesis
  • Demonstrable knowledge of up to date methods and a wide knowledge of contemporary chemistry 
  • Experience of multistep synthesis of compound libraries.
  • Demonstrated expertise in organic chemistry principles
  • Maintenance of a strong external network in the academic community
  • A willingness to work flexibly to meet milestones
  • Good time management and organisational skills
  • Strong interpersonal, communication and presentation skills


  • A knowledge of informatics e.g. Pipeline Pilot, knime or equivalents
  • A knowledge of the use of multifactorial design for reaction optimisation
  • Experience of the use of lab automation
  • General IT skills
  • Familiarity with programming and lab automation

Apply Here

The appointment will be made on Grade 7 of the University's salary scale, between £32,817 - £40,322 depending on experience.

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. In this case, the initial appointment would be made as a Research Assistant on the Training Grade 7 salary scale (Spinal Point 28 £31,866).

For more information please contact Gary Tarver ( and visit our websites ( and (

A few facts about The School of Life Sciences at Dundee:

The University of Dundee is one of the UK’s leading universities – internationally recognised for our expertise across a range of disciplines and research breakthroughs in multiple areas, including science, medicine and engineering, amongst many others. Conveniently located on the banks of River Tay, our 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. We also have campuses at Ninewells Hospital and in Kirkcaldy which are easily accessible via local transport links.

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.