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Synthesis of deuterated natural products - Industrial Placement

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The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is one of Europe’s largest research organisations. We’re trusted to support, enable and undertake pioneering projects in an amazing diversity of fields. Through world-class facilities and people, we’re driving ground-breaking advances in science, technology and Engineering.

STFC is one of nine organisations that have been brought together to create UK Research and Innovation (UKRI); a new organisation with a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation.

Each year we offer opportunities to undergraduate students to gain practical experience, working alongside technical experts at the forefront of scientific research. We offer an invaluable experience with exposure to world class science and technology, and the opportunity to develop working relationships that continue well after your placement has finished.

STFC consists of several distinct departments which each focus on a different specialism within science, technology, innovation and support, yet work together to achieve STFC’s grand ambitions. Different departments may look for placement students with similar skills, so you should consider which role/s are most suitable to you, and apply for up to two of these. 

The ISIS pulsed neutron and muon source at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire is a world-leading centre for research in the physical and life sciences. Based within the ISIS, the ISIS Deuteration Facility is a synthetic chemistry group that synthesise deuterated materials for the ISIS user community. The materials requested are wide ranging, so the synthetic skills of the team are varied. The laboratory has awide range of synthetic and analytical equipment.


Summary of Key Duties

This is an organic synthetic project focused on developing and optimising chemical deuteration methods. It will be entirely lab based, working in the main deuteration laboratory. The lab has an established track record of providing certain classes of chemical compound (e.g. surfactants, fatty acids etc.) but the dynamic nature of the ISIS User Programme means that new requests for isotopic materials can be far wider ranging, and beyond any current established programmes of work within the group.

This project will establish synthetic routes to compounds not routinely provided by the deuteration facility. Specifically isotopically labelled natural products (eg phytantriol, cholesterol) and drug molecules (eg ibuprofen, disulfiram and lidocaine).  Your work will follow standard practices in the lab, developing and optimising synthetic procedures where appropriate, performing analysis of reaction outcomes and product purity by standard analytical techniques such as NMR and Mass Spectroscopy, and conforming to health and safety requirements through writing and assessing your own activities through COSHH assessment.


Based in the ISIS Deuteration Facility the project will firstly be focussed developing synthetic routes to commonly requested materials. This will then be adapted to create deuteration versions of these materials. Owing to the complex nature of some requests, selectively deuterated compounds will also need to be synthesised. You will be responsible for the day to day running of your project, maintaining laboratory notebooks and associated COSHH and risk assessments. This is a synthetic project and will involve general techniques for reactions, workups and purification. You will also be responsible for analysing the outcome of your reactions with standard analytical equipment (NMR, IR, GCMS, LCMS).

Knowledge, Skills and Experience

Ideally you will have some experience of synthetic practical’s as part of your university degree, with some knowledge of COSHH and risk assessments. A working understanding of NMR and Mass Spectroscopy would be advantageous, but not essential.

You should be enthusiastic and keen to learn new techniques. Whilst some of this project is known, the later work will require method development so the ability to adapt to a changing work plan is essential.

Organization Description

UK Research and Innovation is a new entity that brings together nine partners to create an independent organisation with a strong voice for research and innovation, and a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. 

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world.


Synthesis of deuterated natural products - Industrial Placement - IRC250833

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Number of vacancies: 
Up to 5