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Understanding Synergistic Antimicrobial Technologies using Advanced Physical and Biological Sciences Techniques

Project Description

This opportunity will close once a suitable candidate has been found.

This project is supported by the Doctoral Training Centre in Biofilms Innovation, Technology and Engineering (BITE) which will train PhD researchers at the interface of Physical and Life Sciences to understand the behaviour of biofilms, which are central to the global challenges of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), Health, Food Security, Clean Water and Energy. BITE is a world class interdisciplinary partnership between Universities of Liverpool, Edinburgh, Nottingham and Southampton, all core founding partners of the £26.5M National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC).
Biofilms are communities of micro-organisms that stick to each other within a matrix or at a surface and represent the dominant mode of life for bacteria on earth. Biofilms impact on a ~$5 trillion global economic activity, approximately twice the UK’s GDP, and influence major UK industrial sectors.
BITE DTC provides a unique training experience to the next generation of research leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs so that they can deliver breakthrough science and technologies in the cross-disciplinary field of biofilms. The four partner universities, alongside international institutes, major national facilities and a large industrial consortium have come together to deliver the UK’s first graduate training centre that will address the skills and knowledge gap in the biofilms field. Our research will span the fields of physical, mathematical, engineering, life and clinical sciences.
BITE PhD projects will:
(i) Drive international research challenges by working with leading groups in the partner universities and by encompassing exceptional interdisciplinarity to revolutionise training in the biofilms field;
(ii) Involve cohort training with students across the four institutions creating a highly-networked DTC community whose access to a world-leading infrastructure and knowledge-base will enable it to compete with the international best;
(iii) Embed innovation and entrepreneurship to catalyse high impact translation of ideas into technology and enhance the business and career prospects of its students;
(iv) Involve participation of stakeholders, including industry, government departments and laboratories, charities, NHS, external and internal research institutes for example, through NBIC collaborations;
(v) Instill skills of effective leadership, clear communication and problem solving.

All research projects fit within the following BITE Research Themes:
1. Biofilm Prevention - Design of surfaces, interfaces and materials to prevent biofilms.
2. Biofilm Detection - Innovative sensing, tracking and diagnostic technologies to detect biofilms.
3. Biofilm Management - Kill, remove or control established biofilms from exploiting their life cycle dynamics.
4. Biofilm Engineering - Control and direct complex microbial communities in process applications.

PhD Project summary: The creation of biofilms by microbial colonisation of surfaces costs the world economy billions of dollars per annum. A major strategy to control this problem is via molecular engineering whereby active molecules are used to generate antimicrobial surfaces that resist microbial adhesion and colonisation. There is little molecular level understanding of actives at a surface and their mode of action on specific microbes. Even less is understood about deploying combinations of actives to create superior technologies that can combat real-life complex microbial communities. This research challenge will be addressed by combining powerful multidisciplinary research capabilities, including nanoscale surface characterisation, advanced bio-imaging, next-generation sequencing, and high throughput approaches. The project will involve close partnership with Unilever R&D.
Stakeholder partner: Unilever R&D

Eligibility: UK or EU students with the equivalent of at least a 2.1 Honours degree in Chemistry, Physics, Biophysics or Materials Chemistry

How to apply: All interested applicants should apply for a PhD in Chemistry via the on-line application link on the University of Liverpool website. Please clearly indicate the project name of the BITE studentship and if you wish to apply for more than one project within the BITE Doctoral Training Centre, please note this in the application. Please be aware, students will receive a degree from the primary supervisor’s host School.

All enquiries should be directed to

Funding Notes

This project is funded by the NBIC University of Liverpool Doctoral Training Centre in Biofilms Innovation, Technology & Engineering. The award will pay full tuition fees and a maintenance grant for 3.5 years. The maintenance grant will be £15,007 pa for 2019-20. Students will be expected to contribute to Departmental teaching, with hours determined by BITE funding source.

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