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Antimicrobial coatings for the prevention of catheter associated infections

Project Description

Research project: Catheter associated urinary tract infections (CA-UTIs) are amongst the most common nosocomial infections and the primary cause of a complication attributed to indwelling urinary catheters. UTIs are the most commonly diagnosed infections in older adults and are the number one source of infection in long-term care residents, accounting for over a third of all nursing home-associated infections.1,2 It is second only to respiratory infections in hospitalized patients and community-dwelling adults over the age of 65 years.3 Risk factors for developing UTI in the aging population differ from that of a younger people as a result of age-associated changes in immune function and an increasing number of comorbidities.4 Although an abundance of research has been conducted over the last few decades to prevent CA-UTIs, the ideal biomaterial, especially for long-term catheterization of more than a month, has yet to be developed. As the ageing demographic gets larger, the burden of UTI is projected to increase, thereby, necessitating prevention strategies for improving the health of older adults.

The aim of this studentship is to develop novel antimicrobial coatings without the use of antibiotics for prevention and treatment of urinary catheter infections. The WHO has reported rising multidrug resistance among commonly found pathogens associated with CA-UTIs.5 As such there is a clinically unmet need of developing new strategies for treating these infections without contributing to the global epidemic of antimicrobial resistance, The approaches used in this studenthship will borrow from nature and fundamental underpinnings of bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation via green manufacturing. Furthermore, as part of this work a model of biofilm dispersal will be developed to understand the risk of infection transmission and enable testing of these coatings using clinical isolates under infection–relevant conditions.

For more details on the research project please contact the supervisors:
Dr. Raechelle D’Sa (School of Engineering)
Dr. Jo Fothergill (Institute of Infection and Global Health)

Additional supervisors:
Professor Michael Thompson (University of Toronto)
Dr. Timothy Neal: (Consultant Clinical Microbiologist/ Director of Infection Prevention and Control Royal Liverpool Hospital)
Industrial Partner- Lucid Innovations

Please apply by sending CV and letter of application to Ms Diane Ashton

Training: The University of Liverpool is setting up a Doctoral Network in Technologies for Healthy Ageing to train the next generation of physical scientists and engineers to develop novel technologies and devices to address the challenges faced by older people and our clinical colleagues who work with them. It is structured around three healthy ageing challenges; prolonging independence, maintaining wellness and accelerating recovery.

All students will undertake a specific training programme in conjunction with their research project. A range of training modules have been designed to provide the student cohort with the high levels of scientific knowledge and engineering expertise needed for research and development of devices and technologies appropriate for the Healthy Ageing agenda. Through this approach our students will learn skills that will provide them with a unique advantage to develop technologies appropriate for this community and significantly enhance their employability in this emerging field. At the start of the programme students will have a masterclass session with a consultant in clinical geriatric medicine, a therapist and a social worker to introduce them to the challenges of the older person in the community through case studies. Each student will spend a week with a Consultant Geriatrician in clinics and community visits. This clinician will remain in contact with the student throughout their PhD in the role of a mentor to maintain the interface between their projects and the healthcare challenges. Innovative training sessions will ensure the training and research is grounded in real world challenges and have been constructed to provide Essential Transferable Skills and Subject Broadening Skills. The student will be a member of the Liverpool Doctoral College which provides further training opportunities over all three years of the PGR programme, and includes Inductions (general and safety), E-learning (e.g. Good Research Practice), seminars (presenting as well as attending), outreach opportunities and journal clubs.

Funding Notes

Studentships will be funded for 3.5 years covering the home fees and typical Research Council stipend.
Research Council Doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees for 2019
• National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2019/20 is £15,009
• Research Councils UK Indicative Fee Level for 2019/20 is £4,327


1. Tsan L, Langberg R, Davis C, et al. Am J Infect Control. 2010: 38, 461–466.
2. Cotter M, Donlon S, Roche F, Byrne H, Fitzpatrick F. J Hosp Infect. 2012: 80, 212–216.
3. Curns AT, Holman RC, Sejvar JJ, Owings MF, Schonberger LB. Arch Intern Med. 2005: 165, 2514–2520.
4. Juthani-Mehta M, Quagliarello VJ. Clin Infect Dis. 2010: 8: 931–936.
5. Juthani-Mehta M, Quagliarello V, Perrelli E, Towle V, Van Ness PH, Tinetti M. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2009: 57, 963–970

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