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Orthopaedic implant infections: a new solution to an old problem

   Department of Biomedical Engineering

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  Dr C McCormick  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project is one of 17 four year PhD Studentships funded by Medical Research Scotland (https://www.medicalresearchscotland.org.uk) to be delivered jointly by the named University and External Partner Organisation (EPO). The Studentship will provide the first-class academic and additional training provided by the EPO needed to equip the successful applicant for a science career in an increasingly competitive market.

"Orthopaedic implant infections: a new solution to an old problem" to be delivered by the University of Strathclyde [Supervisors: Dr Christopher McCormick (Department of Biomedical Engineering, Univeristy of Strahtclyde), Dr Michelle Maclean (Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University of Strathclyde), Dr Sean McGinty (Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Glasgow), Professor Dominic Meek and Mr David Shields (both Queen Elizabeth University Hospital, Glasgow)] and Biomet UK Healthcare Ltd (https://www.zimmerbiomet.eu/en) [External Partner Organisation supervisor: Dr Imran Khan].

For many people suffering from musculoskeletal conditions, the use of orthopaedic implants during arthroplasty surgery provides crucial restoration of function and long-lasting relief from chronic joint pain. Unfortunately, the invasive nature of this surgery, coupled with the use of synthetic implant materials that permit microbial colonisation, means that infection will take hold at the implant site in some of these patients. This is one of the greatest challenges in the musculoskeletal field.

Whilst the mechanisms driving implant infections are complex and remain to be fully elucidated, it is clear that the implant surface allows opportunistic bacterial adhesion and colonisation. The resultant biofilms are particularly resistant to treatment and so prevention is key. Current approaches to prevention include loading the surgical implant site with antibiotics and the use of antibiotic-eluting implant surfaces – neither approach has yet demonstrated the improvements in clinical outcomes expected.

This project will develop an in silico tool that can be used to optimise the design of infection-resistant implant surfaces for better prevention or management of arthroplasty infections. It will involve a combined in vitro experimental and mathematical modelling approach that we have successfully applied in related projects.

The student will be supervised by a multi-disciplinary academic team, with expertise drawn from biomedical engineering, mathematics, microbiology and orthopaedics. Visits to our collaborating clinical partners and secondments to our industry partner are an important feature of the project and student training experience.


Enquiries should be sent by email to Dr Christopher McCormick:

[Email Address Removed]


The project sits at the interface between Engineering, Biology and Mathematics. Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, a minimum 2.1 UK honours degree, or equivalent for degrees obtained outside the UK, or a postgraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering. Applicants with a degree in a related area, including Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences, and a clear interest in applying their knowledge to this project are also welcomed. We encourage applications from Black, Asian and minority ethnicity, women, LGBT+, and disabled candidates and candidates from lower socio-economic groups and care-experienced backgrounds.

Applications are welcome from UK nationals as well as EU nationals that hold UK settled or pre-settled status.

Applicants should send a covering letter explaining why they would be suited to this PhD project, a full Curriculum Vitae and the names and contact details (including email addresses) of at least two academic referees by email to Dr Christopher McCormick:

[Email Address Removed]

Please note, your application may be shared with the funders of this PhD Studentship, Medical Research Scotland and Biomet UK Healthcare Ltd.

Interviews are expected to take place approximately 2 weeks after the closing date for applications. Interviews may be conducted via teleconference if a visit to Strathclyde is not practically feasible.

It is anticipated that the PhD Studentship will start on 3 October 2022.

Funding Notes

PhD Studentship provides: an annual tax-free stipend of £18,500, increasing to £19,000 over the four years; tuition fees at home rates only; consumables; and generous travel allowance. International fees are not covered.


Further information on the host academic department and principal academic supervisor can be found at the following pages:
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