PhD: Measurement and in silico prediction of pharmaceutical biotransformation in wastewater and receiving water via FindAPhD

Imperial College London

London, UK 🇬🇧

About the Project

Supervisory team

Dr Leon Barron, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London (Lead academic supervisor, profile:

Prof. Russell Davenport, School of Engineering, Newcastle University (Second academic supervisor; profile:

Dr Irene Bramke, Environmental Risk Assessment, AstraZeneca (Industry supervisor)

Project Description

Pharmaceuticals enter the aquatic environment largely via human excretion to the wastewater network after consumption. Predicting the removal and biotransformation of the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in wastewater treatment systems is critical to understanding their fate and potential effects in the receiving aqueous environment. This also enables invention of “benign by design” medicines that are sustainable as well as effective. In this project you will apply state-of -the-art chemical analysis methods to hundreds of pharmaceuticals in wastewater and receiving water to develop new computational models capable of predicting their removal during treatment and biodegradation rates in the environment.You will develop a tiered high-throughput biodegradation testing, bioinformatics and analytical chemoinformatic approach to predicting API transformation pathways and their predominant enzyme catalysts and to evaluate the influence of catabolic pathways, chemical structure and environmental parameters on API biodegradation rates.

This project will offer a challenging, collaborative and transdisciplinary opportunity for an excellent PhD candidate to work at the forefront of this exciting area with leading academic teams at Newcastle University and Imperial College London and in partnership with AstraZeneca, a globally leading pharmaceutical company. As part of the iCASE project, students will be expected to spend at least three months at an AstraZeneca site in the UK providing a unique industry experience and training opportunity.


Based primarily within the Faculty of Medicine, you will join the Environmental Research Group at its brand new state-of-the-art laboratories at the ÂŁ2 billion Imperial White City Campus (

Students will also benefit from

access to research facilities at Newcastle University within the Environmental

Engineering group of the Civil and Geospatial Engineering discipline in the School

of Engineering, which boasts state-of-the-art molecular microbial ecology

laboratories and facilities, and novel high-thoughput biodegradation screening

platforms (

AstraZeneca is a global biopharmaceutical company specialising in the discovery, development, manufacturing and marketing of prescription medicines. With a strong R&D and implementation track record in ecopharmacovigilance, AstraZeneca leads the pharmaceutical industry in the management of pharmaceuticals in the environment-related topics. For more details, please see:


Funding is available for four years for eligible students including Imperial College London tuition fees and a combined BBSRC-AstraZeneca stipend worth approximately ÂŁ21,560 (tax-free). For eligibility criteria, please see

Candidate specification and requirements

The project requires a motivated individual who is passionate about environmental science-related issues. A first-class undergraduate degree in analytical chemistry, biochemistry, environmental science, pharmaceutical science or toxicology and a master’s degree in a related area is required. Knowledge of analytical chemistry, transcriptomics, coding and machine learning is desirable, ideally with research experience.

Informal enquiries and requests for additional information for this post can be made to: Dr Leon Barron [email protected]


Interested candidates should apply by emailing the following documents to Valentina Lotti (mailto:[email protected]):

1.          An up-to-date CV.

2.          A completed Application form for the position available here (additional application to the doctoral programme will be required for the successful candidate).

3.          Contact details for 2 referees, at least one of which should be a recent academic referee.

Should you have any queries regarding the application process please contact: Ms Valentina Lotti [email protected]   

__Deadline date:__ __31st July 2021__

__Start Date: __ __2nd October, 2021__