Vibrational coupling and non-adiabatic energy transfer in enzyme catalysis

We seek to deepen our understanding of enzyme catalysis by assessing the role of quantum mechanics, and non-adiabatic energy transfer in these fundamental biological processes and shed light on one of the most fascinating and long-standing problems in biochemistry.

Start date
1 October 2021
Duration
Standard project duration is 3 years
Application deadline
Funding information
  • Full UK tuition fee covered
  • Stipend at £15,609 p.a.
  • Personal computer (provided by the department)

This research project is one of a number of projects at this institution. It is in competition for funding with one or more of these projects. Usually the project which receives the best applicant will be awarded the funding.

About

We seek to deepen our understanding of enzyme catalysis by assessing the role of quantum mechanics, and non-adiabatic energy transfer in these fundamental biological processes and shed light on one of the most fascinating and long-standing problems in biochemistry. In order to do this, we will address the role of non-adiabatic processes, including electronic and vibrational coupling, and intramolecular vibrational redistribution (IVR) on coherence and tunnelling in the function of enzymes. Our method will be based on computational modelling and quantum mechanical simulations. It has long been known that processes such as the photo-activated electron transfer and quantum tunnelling of protons are critical in helping enzymes catalyse biochemical reactions inside cells, but we have yet to fully understand the role of the cellular environment and the non-adiabatic energy transfer between the degrees of freedom of the system in enhancing these processes. QM simulations performed in a biological environment simulated through implicit and explicit solvent at biological conditions will help us understand the coupling between the dynamics at the surface of the enzyme and in the active site. The project will be conducted in the Leverhulme Trust-supported Quantum Biology Doctoral Training Centre at the University of Surrey.

By deepening our quantitative understanding of the physical aspects, mechanisms and dynamics of enzyme catalysis, we will be able to assess the role of quantum mechanics in MADH, and more broadly, in fundamental biological processes involving proton transfer and dehydrogenation. We believe it is critical and timely that both state-of-the-art physical and chemical approaches are employed to understand the quantum nature and mechanisms of enzyme catalysis at the deepest level.

Proton transfer and non-adiabatic effects are critical in biochemical and biological systems and understanding how quantum effects such as tunnelling, coherence and quantum dissipation/relaxation influence the rate of proton transfer in enzymes, DNA, RNA and proteins will have a huge impact on our fundamental understanding of the life-chemistry. Aside from the importance of understanding the physics governing life processes and the impact and ramifications that our research could induce in academic research, we believe that our theoretical methods could have, in the long term, a lasting impact on areas related to quantum biology, such as medicine, genetics and catalysis.

 

Related links
Leverhulme Quantum Biology Doctoral Training Centre UK Research and Innovation

Eligibility criteria

Applicants should have an undergraduate or masters degree in a relevant field such as physics or chemistry. 

This funding is only eligible for UK students.

English language requirements

IELTS minimum 6.5 or above. 

How to apply

Applications should be submitted via the Quantum Biology programme page on the "Apply" tab. Please clearly state the studentship title and supervisor on your application. Please provide CV and the names of two referees.

Please contact Professor Johnjoe McFadden for further details.


Application deadline

Contact details

Marco Sacchi
03 AZ 02
Telephone: +44 (0)1483 686834
E-mail: m.sacchi@surrey.ac.uk
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