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Development of antimicrobial-impregnated catheter coatings to prevent uropathogenic Escherichia coli infection


Project Description

Faculty of Health & Wellbeing, Sheffield Hallam University
Biomolecular Sciences Research Centre
PhD Research Studentship (full-time for 3 years)
Stipend: £14,777 per annum

A three-year PhD studentship is available to UK and EU students. The studentship covers home/EU tuition fees, stipend equivalent to full UK Research Council rate and research expenses.


Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) are among the most commonly acquired healthcare-associated infections (HCAIs), contributing considerably to patient morbidity and mortality. Owing to the increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance in uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC), a leading cause of CAUTI, there is growing interest in strategies to prevent infection that avoid the use of antibiotics. One such strategy is to use broad-spectrum biocides as anti-infective catheter coating agents, to prevent bacterial biofilm formation on the catheter surface. However, the long-term impact of biocide exposure in UPEC is not clearly understood. We have recently characterized the phenotypic changes that occur in UPEC as a consequence of biocide exposure (1). In parallel, we have developed a versatile sol-gel coating system for controlled release of a wide range of active molecules, including biocides. This project will bring together and build upon these findings to investigate the molecular mechanisms that underpin the adaptation of UPEC to biocides, and facilitate development of a long-lasting anti-infective catheter coating.

The successful candidate will aim to:

i) To characterise the underlying molecular mechanisms that govern the phenotypic changes observed during biocide adaptation in UPEC, through transcriptomic (RNA-seq) and proteomic (LC-MS) analysis.
ii) To develop a biocide-impregnated sol-gel catheter coating and validate the coating in an in vitro continuous culture biofilm model.
ii) To develop a human urethral infection cell culture model enabling the interplay between the UPEC, the sol-gel coating and a uroepithelial cell line to be investigated.

The candidate will form part of a research team specialising in antimicrobial resistance, antimicrobial delivery systems and bacterial biofilms. Training will encompass a wide range of research practices including microbiological culture, molecular biology, sol-gel chemistry, mass spectrometry and confocal microscopy.

Eligible candidates should be independently motivated, have good oral/written communication skills, work well in teams and have obtained, or expect to obtain a Masters or Bachelors (1st class or 2:1) in a relevant discipline.

Funding Notes

Candidates should apply to SHU via the University application form, including a 1500 word research proposal demonstrating your background reading on the topic of the PhD and your plans for how you would undertake this programme.

Include a cover letter describing why you are interested in pursuing postgraduate studies and how you meet the selection criteria. Completed application forms to

Application forms can be downloaded at:

View Website

For project enquiries contact

Key Dates:
• Deadline for applications - 29th April 2019
• Interviews will be held 20th - 31st May 2019
• Studentship to begin in October 2019

References

(1) Henly, E. L., et al. "Biocide Exposure Induces Changes in Susceptibility, Pathogenicity and Biofilm Formation in Uropathogenic Escherichia coli." Antimicrobial agents and chemotherapy (2019): AAC-01892.

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