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Advanced Biomaterial for Preventing Catheter-Associated Infections

School of Science and Engineering

About the Project

Urinary catheters are used as soon as a patient cannot control urine drain as a consequence of incontinence or urine retention. Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) account for about one third of all hospital-acquired infections and more than 1 million CAUTIs occur annually in the United States and Europe. CAUTIs cost the UK NHS approximately £99 million per year and result in increased morbidity and mortality. Currently only a silver coated catheter and a PTFE-coated catheter are still widely used in hospitals.

Unfortunately clinical studies have shown that the use of silver-coated or PTFE-coated urinary catheters has resulted in an insignificant reduction in infection. Our new idea is to combine the anti-bacterial property of silver and anti-adhesive property of PTFE in a single coating by incorporating PTFE nano-particles into a silver matrix using a cost-effective electroless deposition technique. In addition we will also investigate the influence of surface nano/micro-structure on bacterial adhesion and

The aim of the proposed research is to develop the novel silver-PTFE nanocomposite coatings on full-length Foley catheters and to evaluate their anti-biofilm properties and anti-encrustation formation in a simulated in vivo environment mimicking human bladder and long-term catheterisation. The research proposal will focus on the achievement of the following specific objectives:
1) To coat urinary catheters with a layer of Ag-PTFE nano-composite coatings using the electroless plating system available at the Biomaterial Research Centre, Univ. of Dundee.
2) To evaluate the anti-stick and anti-bacterial properties of the nano-coatings using a Fluorescent Microscope, as compared with existing uncoated/coated catheters.
3) To characterize the surface properties of the coatings using SEM, XPS and OCA-20 etc.
4) To evaluate anti-bacterial and anti-encrustation performance of coated catheters with bladder models that mimic human bladder.
5) To produce the complete prototypes- novel silver-PTFE coated catheters with anti-bacterial properties, which are suitable for clinical trials.

For informal enquiries about the project, contact Dr Qi Zhao ()
For general enquiries about the University of Dundee, contact

Applicants must have obtained, or expect to obtain, a first or 2.1 UK honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK in a relevant discipline.

English language requirement: IELTS (Academic) score must be at least 6.5 (with not less than 5.5 in each of the four components). Other, equivalent qualifications will be accepted. Full details of the University’s English language requirements are available online:


Step 1: Email Dr Qi Zhao () to (1) send a copy of your CV and (2) discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date).

Step 2: After discussion with Dr Zhao, formal applications can be made via UCAS Postgraduate. When applying, please follow the instructions below:

Apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Biomedical Engineering: Select the start date and study mode (full-time/part-time) agreed with the lead supervisor.

In the ‘provider questions’ section of the application form:
- Write the project title and ‘’ in the ‘if your application is in response to an advertisement’ box;
- Write the lead supervisor’s name and give brief details of your previous contact with them in the ‘previous contact with the University of Dundee’ box.

In the ‘personal statement’ section of the application form, outline your suitability for the project selected.

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project. The successful applicant will be expected to provide the funding for tuition fees and living expenses, via external sponsorship or self-funding.

This project is supported by UK EPSRC EP/P00301X/1.


1) Q. Zhao et al Development and evaluation of electroless Ag-PTFE composite coatings with anti-microbial and anti-corrosion properties. 2005. Applied Surface Science, 252 (5):1620–1627.

2) Zhang, S., Wang, L., Liang, X., Vorstius, J., Keatch, R., Corner, G., Nabi, G., Davidson, F., Gadd, G. M. & Zhao, Q*, Enhanced antibacterial and anti-adhesive activities of silver–PTFE nanocomposite coating for urinary catheters, ACS Biomaterials Science and Engineering, 5:2804-2814, 2019,

3) Wang, L., Zhang, S., Keatch, R., Corner, G., Nabi, G., Murdoch, S., Davidson, F. & Zhao, Q*, In-vitro antibacterial and anti-encrustation performance of silver-polytetrafluoroethylene nanocomposite coated urinary catheters, Journal of Hospital Infection, 103(1):56-63,2019. Available on

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