Antibiotic Resistance and Biofilm Formation in Clinical Isolates of Enterococcus faecium – a WHO High Priority Pathogen


   School of Pharmacy

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  Prof Brendan Gilmore, Dr Stephen Kelly  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

E. faecium is an important human pathogen which exhibits resistance to a range of antibiotics, and is implicated in a wide variety of device associated infections. Due to its clinical significance, the World Health Organization (WHO) assigned vancomycin-resistant E. faecium (VREF) as a high priority pathogen on its global priority list of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Aggregation and biofilm formation are important mechanisms of tolerance in E. faecium but are poorly described in the context of urinary tract devices, where it is a predominant pathogen. This project seeks to understand the mechanisms of resistance, tolerance and aggregation in clinical isolates of E. faecium derived from urinary tract devices, including ureteral stents.

The successful candidate will join a dynamic biofilm research group focused understanding the mechanisms of biofilm formation and developing novel approaches to their detection and control. The project will combine classical culture-based methodologies of isolation, planktonic and biofilm culture models and biofilm antibiotic susceptibility assays alongside DNA analysis (PCR, next generation sequencing, comparative genomics). The student will build on existing expertise in the group to elucidate E. faecium aggregation and biofilm formation, antibiotic resistance, tolerance and persister formation. The project benefits from clinical supervisory links to the Belfast City Hospital Renal Transplant Unit, with the potential for findings to influence clinical practice.

Home applicants must meet the following academic criteria:

1st or 2.1 honours degree in a relevant subject. Relevant subjects include Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biochemistry, Biological/Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry, Engineering, or a closely related discipline.

International applicants must meet the following academic criteria:

IELTS (or equivalent) of 7.0, a 2.1 honours degree (or equivalent) and a master’s degree in a relevant subject.


Biological Sciences (4) Medicine (26)
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 About the Project