Engineering Solutions to Hospital Acquired Infections
Background: Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) are one of the biggest problems facing global healthcare services. HAI affect more than 4 million patients across Europe, they are estimated to be responsible for more than 37,000 European deaths annually, and cause a huge financial burden to the NHS. As antibiotic resistance grows, so too will the number of HAIs, and the UK Government now predict that by 2050 antibiotic resistant bacteria could cost the global economy $100 trillion, with drug resistant infections killing more than 10 million people a year worldwide.
Aim: This project will involve research on the potential effects of installing antimicrobial surfaces in hospitals and what impact these surfaces could have on the global problem of antimicrobial resistance.
Experimental Methods and Research Plan: The student will work across all partners in this project carrying out surface integrity and analysis studies at the University of Nottingham under the direction of Dr David Scurr. The analysis of the interactions of the bacteria with the surfaces will be carried out at the University of Birmingham under Dr Felicity de Cogan and the work on antibacterial resistance will be carried in the Institute of Microbiology and Infection with Dr Jessica Blair. The student will also travel to the industrial partner NitroPep to learn how to form antibacterial surfaces, how to manufacture the surfaces used in their projects and to gain an understanding of how the different parameters in manufacture can be used to optimise the functionality of the surfaces.
This project is a joint development between academics at the University of Birmingham and NitroPep to determine the transmission and prevention of antimicrobial resistant bacteria on surfaces in hospital setting. Crucially the project brings together academics with different and very complementary research expertise. NitroPep is a SME it is currently focussing on its primary market sector preventing infections in healthcare. NitroPep will provide training on designing a research project for innovation and industrial sponsorship. The student will gain experience first-hand in manufacturing surfaces as well as in design, manufacture and optimise the surfaces required for this project. The student will receive training in surface modification technologies, surface treatment techniques to EN standards and surface analysis. The student will also be trained to carry out microbiology testing to regulated standards in compliance with the Biocidal Product Regulation.
Applicants should have a strong background in microbiology and material science, and ideally a background in surface analysis, specifically ToF SIMS and Hybrid SIMS. They should have a commitment to research in microbiology and material science and hold or realistically expect to obtain at least an Upper Second Class Honours Degree in biology, materials science or equivalent.