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Nanoparticle-based Therapeutics to Combat Multidrug Resistance and Biofilms in Chronic Wound Infections

Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences

, Applications accepted all year round Competition Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Chronic wound infections are a significant and fast-growing global healthcare problem compounded by the widespread occurrence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In the UK alone, annual healthcare costs associated with chronic wounds including diabetic wounds, pressure ulcers, and non-healing surgical wounds were estimated to be £5.3 billion. Due to the polymicrobial nature and prevalence of biofilms in non-healing wounds, many existing therapies including surgical debridement, antibiotics therapy, and use of wound dressings are ineffective. This project aims to improve the treatment of chronic wound infections by developing novel core-shell gold-polymer conjugates for the broad-spectrum, synergistic photothermal-antimicrobial chemotherapy of planktonic bacteria and biofilms. Key goals of this project include: (1) synthesis and characterisation of core-shell gold-polymer conjugates with strong near infrared absorbance using a novel one pot approach, (2) studying antibiotic loading efficiency and light activated release of therapeutics, (3) demonstration of antimicrobial efficacy, and (4) evaluation of in vitro biocompatibility.

This project is designed to build upon the current strengths of the collaborative team comprised of Dr Zhan Ong, Prof Stephen Evans (School of Physics and Astronomy), Dr James McLaughlan (School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering), and Dr Andrew Kirby (School of Medicine) for the design, synthesis, and evaluation of novel organic/inorganic hybrid nanomaterials for antimicrobial and photothermal applications in Medicine. This project will suit a self-motivated student with a Physics, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Engineering, or other relevant background. The student will gain hands-on experience in a wide range of interdisciplinary research skills such as nanoparticle synthesis, materials characterisation (e.g. TEM/SEM, XPS, and DLS) as well as mammalian and bacterial culture to address a major global health challenge in antimicrobial resistance. The student will benefit from working in a vibrant and multidisciplinary environment in the Bragg Centre for Materials Research as well as with staff and students from the Schools of Physics and Medicine at the University of Leeds.

Funding Notes

The projects are funded by the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council Doctoral Training Partnerships and will run for 3.5 years. A full standard studentship consists of academic fees (£4,600 in Session 2020/21), together with a maintenance grant (£15,285 in Session 2020/21) paid at standard Research Council rates. UK applicants will be eligible for a full award paying tuition fees and maintenance. European Union applicants will be eligible for an award paying tuition fees only, except in exceptional circumstances, or where residency has been established for more than 3 years prior to the start of the course.

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