Quantum and drugs: spin dynamics in an antibiotic. Theory.

Spin physics, the science that describes how electron spin may be coupled through ‘spooky action at a distance’ or quantum entanglement.

Start date

1 October 2020


3 years

Application deadline

Funding source

Leverhulme Trust and University of Surrey

Funding information

The studentship fully covers all academic fees with a stipend of £15,285 per annum for UK/EU students

Funding for future years will be subjected to the UKRI increase


Spin physics, the science that describes how electron spin may be coupled through ‘spooky action at a distance’ or quantum entanglement. The Radical Pair Mechanism (RPM) in which two radicals are linked through the spin of quantum-entangled electrons, is believed to provide the avian compass but may also be involved in health-related phenomena, such as inflammation and wound healing. Recent experiments have demonstrated that spin physics may be involved in the activation of some drugs. In this theory project the RPM will form the theoretical starting point for simulation of magnetic field effects and isotope effects of drug-spin interactions. Spin dynamics calculations will be supported by molecular docking, ab initio quantum calculations of radical properties and molecular dynamics simulations. This study, which will run alongside a parallel experimental project, will allow a comprehensive description of the spin dynamics based on the theory of open quantum systems. It will involve collaboration with the University of Exeter, the National Physics Laboratory and the University of California, USA.

Related links

Leverhulme Quantum Biology Doctoral training centre Professor Johnjoe McFadden Scott Turner

Eligibility criteria

Applicants must have a BSc/Masters in Chemistry, Physics or Physical Sciences, ideally with computer modelling/simulation experience.

UK and EU students only will be funded, overseas students will need to source their own funding.

English language requirements: IELTS overall score of 6.5 or above with a minimum of 6.0 in each component (or equivalent).

How to apply

To apply for this studentship:

  1. Firstly apply for the Quantum Biology PhD.  
  2. During your application, please mention your desire to apply to this studentship in order to be considered.  
  3. When the system asks you to add your ‘Research Project’ please copy and paste the project description of the project you wish to apply for.

Application deadline

Contact details

Brendan Howlin
23 AZ 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 686248
E-mail: B.Howlin@surrey.ac.uk

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