Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) are among the most common hospital-acquired infections worldwide threatening over 150 million people annually, imposing substantial burdens on the health system. The treatment of CAUTIs is becoming increasingly challenging due to the rise of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens. Despite a few anti-infection catheters having come into clinical use, no current technology can provide long-term (> 30 days) infection control. The root cause lies in the complex pathogenesis of CAUTIs which involves a cascade of events including inflammation-induced host protein deposition, bacterial swarming migration, biofilm formation, and encrustation. Traditional strategies to combat CAUTIs only target to kill pathogens or prevent their attachment, but an ideal catheter that can address all the pathogenesis-related issues has yet to be developed.
In this project, we propose to eradicate CAUTIs by developing multifunctional biomaterials/coatings for urinary catheters. To achieve this goal, potential polymeric components that can provide the required functions will be identified using state-of-the-art screening technology, and these newly discovered ‘building blocks’ will be combined and applied to urinary catheters to provide infection control. Success would address the unmet clinical need relating to CAUTI prevention, replacing the costly and ineffective catheters and providing a new design paradigm for next-generation anti-infection surfaces.
This project will provide experience in materials science, microbiology, immunology, and mathematical modelling. The candidate will benefit from broad training in materials science, organic chemistry, microbiology, inflammatory science, characterization techniques, and surface fouling assay techniques. Presentation, writing and interpersonal skills will be developed. The student will also have access to a wide range of training opportunities provided by the university's graduate school programme.
Postgraduate Research applicants must have applied to Queen’s, via the Direct Applications Portal.