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


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Project start date
Thursday 1 October 2020
Competition funded
Source of funding
Research council
Dr Zhan Ong
Additional supervisors
Dr Andrew Kirby
School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, School of Physics and Astronomy
Research groups/institutes
Molecular and Nanoscale Physics
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

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 &pound;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. Please contact Dr Zhan Ong ( for informal enquiries.

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is &lsquo;Nanoparticle-based Therapeutics to Combat Multidrug Resistance and Biofilms in Chronic Wound Infections&rsquo; as well as&nbsp;<a href="">Dr Zhan Ong</a>&nbsp;as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.</em></p>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p>The projects are funded by the Engineering &amp; Physical Sciences Research Council Doctoral Training Partnerships and will run for 3.5 years. A full standard studentship consists of academic fees (&pound;4,500 in Session 2019/20), together with a maintenance grant (&pound;15,009 in Session 2019/20) 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. Other terms and conditions of these studentships may be found here: <a href=""></a>.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information regarding your application, please contact Doctoral College Admissions:<br /> e:&nbsp;<a href=""></a>, t: +44 (0)113 343 5057.</p> <p>For further information regarding the project, please contact Dr Zhan Ong by email:&nbsp;&nbsp;<a href=""></a></p>