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


   School of Pharmacy

  , Dr Stephen Kelly  Applications accepted all year round  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK 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.


Funding Notes

Department for the Economy studentships are available for eligible UK and Irish residents. This is a three year studentship beginning on 2nd October 2023, the deadline for applications is the 30th January 2023. The successful candidate will receive a stipend and have their tuition fees paid for. For more details, please see the following link: View Website

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