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  Surfaces for the elimination of Clostridiodes difficile spores

   College of Health and Life Sciences

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  Dr D Rathbone, Dr T Worthington  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Production of antimicrobial resistant spores by C. difficile and their dispersal in the environment facilitates the transmission of Clostridiodes difficile associated disease, especially in healthcare environments. The spores are resistant to common disinfectants and biocides, thus allowing them to withstand hospital cleaning regimes. If instead, a spore can be induced to germinate, it will be more sensitive to common antimicrobials and it may be readily eliminated by common disinfectants and biocides. Certain bile acids and co-germinants are known to initiate spore germination. It is hypothesised that a suitable surface-anchored bile acid derivative might be able to initiate germination in C. difficile spores. If this could be combined with an antimicrobial component, then there would be the possibility for a spore germination-extermination dual-action material that could potentially be deployed as antimicrobial surfaces in the clinical environment. Therefore, the aim of this project is to produce surfaces with attached bioactive entities that are able to initiate germination of C. difficile spores, and which also have general wide-spectrum antimicrobial properties. The Aston team has experience in the synthesis and screening of bile acid related germinants of the general type required. The chemistry is amenable to analogue synthesis for the optimisation of the material properties and the associated desired C. difficile germinant and antimicrobial activities. Such spore germination-extermination dual-action materials could be a useful weapon in the fight against microbial infection in the clinical setting. The major component of the project is synthetic organic chemistry, and this will be complemented by biological screening of the material produced.

Estimated yearly cost of consumables

£4,000 per year

Person Specification

A Masters degree in a relevant subject with a 60% or higher weighted average, and/or a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or an equivalent qualification from an overseas institution)

Submitting an application

As part of the application, you will need to supply:

·        A copy of your current CV

·        Copies of your academic qualifications for your Bachelor degree, and Masters degree (if studied); this should include both certificates and transcripts, and must be translated in to English

·        A research proposal statement*

·        Two academic references

·        Proof of your English Language proficiency

Details of how to submit your application can be found here

*The application must be accompanied by a “research proposal” statement. An original proposal is not required as the initial scope of the project has been defined, candidates should take this opportunity to detail how their knowledge and experience will benefit the project and should also be accompanied by a brief review of relevant research literature.

Please include the supervisor’s name and project title in your Personal Statement.

If you require further information about the application process please contact the Postgraduate Admissions team at [Email Address Removed]

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

There is no funding for this project.


· A Revised Understanding of Clostridioides difficile Spore Germination. Lawler, A., Lambert, P. & Worthington, T., 1 Sep 2020, In: Trends in Microbiology. 28, 9, p. 744-752 9
· Physical and chemical factors influencing the germination of Clostridium difficile spores, Wheeldon, L. J., Worthington, T., Hilton, A., Elliott, T. S. J. & Lambert, P. A., Dec 2008, In: Journal of Applied Microbiology. 105, 6, p. 2223-2230
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