France has a strong academic tradition and is committed to investing in research and education. Here's what French academics make.
In our group at the BIP (http://bip.cnrs-mrs.fr/bip06/), we use direct electrochemistry to study a number of metalloenzymes which catalyze redox reactions of interest, such as the interconversion between protons and H2, or the reduction of CO2 to carbon monoxide. In this technique, the enzyme is immobilized on an electrode in a configuration where the electron transfer is direct, and the enzymatic activity can be monitored as an electrical current. This technique has proved extremely useful to study various aspects of the reactivity of metalloenzymes. However, we faced a problem when trying to use it to study the CO dehydrogenase (CODH), which catalyzes the reversible reduction of CO2 to CO: CO2 + 2e– + 2H+ ⇔ CO + H2O. This enzyme is so fast that the catalysis is mostly limited by the transport of the substrate (CO, CO2) towards the electrode, and not by the chemical reaction, which makes it impossible to study the enzymatic mechanism.
In this project, funded by the AMIDEX foundation, we have joined forces with the group of the physicists Jean-Vincent Daurelle and Jérôme Vicente at the IUSTI to design a new electrochemical cell with improved transport properties.
We are looking for a PhD student willing to work both on the design of the new cell (using computational fluid dynamics) and its implementation and use for the study of enzymatic reactions, and in particular of the CO dehydrogenase.
The candidate will have a background in physical chemistry or, alternatively, a background in physics with an interest in chemistry and biology. The candidate will speak english and will be interested in the pluridisciplinary approach that we develop.
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