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De Montfort University PhD Scholarships

PhD Studentship in Freeze-drying of Pharmaceutical Drug Products 

A PhD scholarship is available (subject to contract) for this three-year project to be completed in collaboration with AstraZeneca, at De Montfort University, Leicester, beginning October 2022. 

The increase in marketed biologic drug therapies, over the last 30 years, and the recent diversification of molecular formats/modalities (from nanoparticles, antibodies, antibody-drug-conjugates, to mRNA vaccines) has resulted in significant demand for freeze-drying technologies and advanced process understanding, and for postgraduate scientists with specialist expertise in this area (creating opportunities for career development).  

This PhD project seeks to provide a better understanding of the development of freeze-dried formulations and lyophilization processes through a combination of computational and/or experimental studies, including opportunities to work on: 

•        Drug formulation, freeze-drying process development, and end-product evaluation.

•        The further development of process monitoring techniques (through-vial impedance spectroscopy/TVIS alongside temperature and humidity sensors) for critical parameter determination (product temperatures, heat transfer coefficients, dry layer resistances)

•        The use of these in-situ tools to provide improved understanding of processes allowing optimised drying profiles and reducing the risk of technical transfer during scale up

•        CFD and mathematical modelling of the freeze-drying process and the validation of classical physical models. 

Our collaboration with AstraZeneca will include spending some time at their site to learn with hands-on experience. The successful candidate should therefore be able to spend days away from the city of Leicester. 

Lead Supervisor: 

The successful candidate will be working with Professor Geoff Smith (, Professor of Pharmaceutical Process Analytical Technology, School of Pharmacy (#phd #scholarship #collaboration #freezedrying #lyophilization #DMU #Astrazeneca)


This is a fully-funded 3-year PhD scholarships. Applications are open to Home and international students though International students will be required to make up the difference between the Home fees and International fees. 

The stipend is pegged to the UKRI rate, currently at £16,062. 

How to Apply: 

To apply for this scholarship please submit a full application via our application portal which can be accessed here 

Information regarding the documentation required for a full application can be accessed here.   In lieu of a research proposal please submit a document that details: 

  • why you are interested in this area of study;
  • why you have the desired qualities and experience for the proposed study

When submitting an application please ensure that Professor Geoff Smith is identified as the named academic within the Proposed Programme of Study tab. 

For any queries please contact 

The closing date for applications is Friday, 3 June 2022.


PhD Studentships in Polymer Chemistry/Analytical Chemistry

Project description

Molecularly Imprinted Polymers (MIPs) are simple, elegant biomimetics that incorporate binding sites bearing steric and chemical functionality complementary to a given target. They represent a generic, versatile, scalable, cost-effective approach to the creation of synthetic molecular receptors and have uses in separation sciences, purification, sensors and catalysis.

DMU is offering two fully-funded 3-year PhD scholarships in this area, commencing 1st October 2022. These, under the supervison of Professor Nick Turner (EPSRC Established Career Fellow), will seek to broaden horizons towards development of imprinted materials and their application in sensor design and are in collaboration with several industrial/academic partners. You will form part of a growing team at DMU looking at pushing the capabilities of molecular imprinting techniques at the biological interface. 

(1) Modulation of Protein Function using Molecular Imprinting

This project will focus on the development of nanoscale molecularly imprinted polymers capable of modulating the function of proteins, creating novel enzymatic inhibitors. Expected techniques used over the project will include a range of synthetic polymer chemistry methods; chromatographic and spectroscopic techniques (including circular dichroism); mass spectrometry; NMR; surface plasmon resonance; and enzymatic assaying.

 (2) Development of Molecularly Imprinted Electrochemical Sensors using 3D Printing

This project will focus on exploring hybrid electrochemical sensing using (i) electrochemical Surface Plasmon Resonance (e-SPR), and (ii) 3D printing techniques combined with molecular imprinting; and apply this to clinical and environmental analysis. Expected techniques used over the project will include a range of electrochemical and synthetic polymer chemistry methods; SPR, mass spectrometry; NMR; 3D printing and CAD design.  This project will be co-supervised by Professor Bhavik Patel (University of Brighton).  

Financial support and application details

The stipends are set to the current UKRI rate, and include fee waivers for home (UK) students. International students fees are subject to discussion with the university, on interview.

 Applicants must:

  • Possess a minimum of an Upper Second Class (2:1) or equivalent Honours degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering, or other relevant subject.
  • Demonstrate competence in the use of the English language. Please see section 5b here for further details on meeting our English language entry criteria.
  • Ideally, have experience with polymer chemistry and/or electrochemistry; working with protein samples; an interest in chemistry at the biological interface;  and/or interest in the structure of proteins.

How to apply

Candidates should submit a full application through the DMU PGR Admissions Portal. Information on how to apply can be found here. Alongside the university application your application should include:

  • A full CV which clearly indicates your Undergraduate (and Masters, if applicable) degree results and transcripts of modules completed during your studies. If degree results are provisional/expected, then please indicate your expected grade.
  • A cover letter indicating:
    • which of the two positions you are interested in;
    • why you are interested in this area of study;
    • an explanation why you have the desired qualities and experience for the proposed study.

Informal discussions on this project should be directed to Professor Nick Turner by email ( or by phone (0116 207 8416).

Application deadline: Friday 3 June 2022




Alumni Discounts

De Montfort University offers alumni discounts for students that have previously studied with us at undergraduate or taught masters degree level. This discount is available to Home and International Students. This discount is only available to new starters and will be automatically applied if you are eligible.

Home alumni discount is £500 per year (full-time equivalent).

International alumni discount is £2,000 per year (full-time equivalent).