European Regional Development Fund PhD on Biofilms



Development of next generation antibiofilm and anti-biofouling technologies

Supervisors: Professor John Hunt (Institute of Aging and Chronic Disease, University of Liverpool)

Professor Steven Percival (5D Health Protection Group – 5DHPG)

Reference: UoL-LCEI-070

Application Deadline: 30th July 2016


The University of Liverpool (UoL) and 5D Health Protection Group Ltd are seeking to appoint a suitably experienced and qualified individual to undertake a three year doctoral research programme.

Microorganisms attach to surfaces and form functional consortiums called a biofilm. Biofilms cause ubiquitous problems of high environmental and financial impact in engineered environments, including the built environment, medicine and water/marine environments; due to the detrimental effects they cause i.e. biofouling and bio deterioration. Biofouling in particular leads to the breakdown of surfaces e.g. corrosion, the reduced performance of a surface e.g. performance of a turbine and therefore a reduced life expectancy of the surface. Biofouling specifically influences the generation of greenhouse gases (GHGs). For example, biofouling of a ship’s hull leads to an increase in fuel costs, due to increased drag the biofilm causes. Consequently this leads to a significant increase in the generation of GHGs. The most practiced strategy to counteract biofilm formation is still through the use of underperforming toxic antimicrobials specifically designed to be efficacious on microorganisms in the planktonic state. However, next generation anti-biofouling agents need to be developed which can be designed to be smartly released, be less toxic, work in synergy with the surface modifications (e.g. patterns, textures) and work specifically on the biofilm itself. We aim to develop and understand the physical mechanisms behind passive antifouling of engineered surfaces, develop novel antibiofilm technologies and develop more effective ‘true to life’ robust and efficient models to realistically evaluate antifouling techniques and methods/technologies.

Overall aim:

The overall aims of this research project are to: 1) investigate different surface modification techniques to increase the inherent ability of a surface to prevent bacterial adhesion and biofilm formation e.g. Investigate surface topography/patterning, zwitterions, passive film enhancement and how this may enhance the inherent anti-biofilm ability of a surface. We will also investigate manufacturing methods e.g. plasma coating. 2) Develop new novel antibiofouling agents and methods utilising new synergistic antibiofilm agents, techniques and technologies which work in conjunction with surface modifications. 3) Create new models to evaluate surface modifications in conjunction with antibiofouling technologies. The development of new more robust and effective models that can be used to effectively study the interactions of microbes with surfaces and new antibiofim agent are urgently required for engineered systems so that the data generated can be more realistically applied to a larger more industrial/ manufacturing scale. The models and antibiofilm technologies developed will be used in the lifecycle assessment of novel antimicrobial, performance of engineered surfaces in ship hulls, tidal turbines and cooling of nuclear reactors.

Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory

This PhD is one of 20 industry-led collaborative R&D projects from the Low Carbon Eco-Innovatory. The aim of the project is for you to work toward a PhD at the University of Liverpool through delivering ‘real – life’ solutions to industry. The Centre brings together the expertise, resources and global contacts of University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moore’s University and Lancaster University to create innovative low carbon goods, processes and services developed through collaborative R&D partnerships between local companies in the Liverpool City Region and local universities.

All LCEI PhD projects have been developed by SMEs contacting the University for assistance in R&D where the company does not have internal expertise, resource or facilities to carry out the research. This will give you a strong advantage in entering a competitive jobs market in both the academic and commercial sectors.

By joining the centre you will receive a £15,000 tax free stipend per year, with your post-graduate tuition fees paid (at UK/EU rate). The Centre is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund. Please visit www.liverpool.ac.uk/environmental-sciences/working-with-business for more information on the centre.

Application details:

To apply for this opportunity please email ecoinnovation@liverpool.ac.uk quoting UoL-LCEI-070 in the email subject with:

2 page CV

2 page expression of interest

A completed Application Criteria – available from www.liverpool.ac.uk/environmental-sciences/working-with-business/phd-opportunities

Further information:

5D Health Protection Group. The 5D Health Protection Group is a world leading expert organisation in the science, testing and management of biofilms. We are a trusted leading independent R&D and testing company that provides scientific and business solutions to companies that require R&D advise and support. We have proficiency across different industry sectors including, healthcare, medical devices, engineering and water (potable, marine and wastewater). Using our scientific and business expertise we support and assist companies to generate value from products, innovations and technologies, evaluate and assist with improving product performance, reduce costs and Identify areas for new opportunities for increased revenue and profit. 5D supports and collaborates with many companies including start-ups, spin-offs, small medium enterprises (SMEs) and global multinational organisations.

We also develop world beating biofilm technologies for customers to commercially exploit

Please visit www.5dhpg.com for more information 

Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease. Our research at the Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease is having real impact internationally, in many disciplines and specialisms.

Our staff have a diverse range of backgrounds and disciplines, including medicine, veterinary sciences, biomaterials, engineering, computer modelling, molecular biology and physiology.

It is the fact that we work with both humans and animals, sharing the expertise gained by studying different species, which makes the Institute unique. Not only do we aim to help individuals lead more active, healthier lives, we are able to respond effectively to the needs of an ageing population.

In many of our specialisms, we take a ‘bench-to-bedside’ approach, but we also reverse this process, taking real issues from clinical practice into the laboratory to find revolutionary solutions.

We adopt innovative research methods – under the microscope as well as in dynamic facilities like our gait laboratory – to study whole body systems and the impact of outside factors. We don’t look at anything in isolation – be that individual cells or the entire musculoskeletal system. Please visit www.liverpool.ac.uk/ageing-and-chronic-disease/ for more information.



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