About the Project
Infection following joint replacement is a devastating complication that occurs in up to 1-2% of cases. The incidence is even higher in patients with: diabetes, obesity, surgical site infections, inflammatory disorders, poor wound healing, or for those who smoke. Because of the increasing prevalence of multi-drug resistant bacteria, there is a critical need to develop new therapeutic interventions to avoid untreatable, life-threatening infections. Cold plasma is a non-antibiotic intervention that can eradicate bacteria and destroy bacterial biofilms. This project will test the hypothesis that a multimodal cold plasma treatment applied during orthopaedic surgical procedures will eradicate existing bacteria and biofilm, thus preventing infection (or reinfection) and enhance surgical site healing and osseointegration, as part of an international collaboration (USA/UK/RoI).
The PhD student will join this multidisciplinary, international research consortium, based at Queen’s University Belfast. They will develop cold plasma experimental protocols for eradication of pathogenic biofilms from orthopaedic materials, bone and surrounding tissues, and to develop representative biofilm models of these complex, multispecies pathogenic states. The PhD will aim to describe the parameters necessary for rapid and accurate biofilm eradication by cold plasmas (either direct exposure, or plasma activated liquids), and to understand the consequences of sub-therapeutic or sub-lethal plasma exposures on biofilm bacteria, using advanced sequencing techniques and susceptibility/persister assays. Finally, the effects of short plasma exposures on macrophage and neutrophil activation within the biofilm milieu, building on previous studies within our research group.
Important, applicants must fulfil the eligibility criteria set out by the Department for the Economy which can be found at this link: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/department-economy-studentships
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