Cardiff School of Dentistry PhD Studentship: Dynamics of dental plaque biofilms in intensive care patients (PhD Studentship)
Reference Number: R828
Key Studentship Information
Project Title: Dynamics of dental plaque biofilms in intensive care patients
Project Description: The composition of the oral microflora of individuals in intensive care changes significantly with an increase in the numbers of opportunistic pathogens such as MRSA and aerobic and facultatively anaerobic Gram-negative bacilli. These bacteria cause the vast majority of hospital-acquired infections and are associated with multidrug resistance. Despite the importance of the oral cavity and oropharynx as reservoirs for such organisms, little attention has been given to the mechanisms underlying the altered dynamics of this microflora. Changes in the oral microflora are known to occur with environmental conditions and in the case of patients admitted to intensive care, it has been suggested that the dental plaque changes to one dominated by potential respiratory pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus. The aims of this research are to investigate microbial changes within the oral cavity of intensive care patients, the underlying causes for these and approaches that can prevent them. Results can be used to aid management of respiratory infection by providing early detection of pathogens and in a manner avoiding invasive sampling of the lower airway, as currently practiced. The study will monitor microbial composition of dental plaque and lower airways of intensive care patients using traditional culture and metagenomic analysis. Saliva will also be collected over the sampling period and analysed for flow, pH and proteomic content. Changes in these parameters will be correlated against microbial population shifts and tested using a mixed species biofilm endotracheal/oropharyngeal model. In addition, the model will be used to examine the effect of two main interventional strategies; firstly, the influence of topically applied antimicrobials (oropharyngeal chlorhexidine application has been shown to reduce incidence of VAP in ITU patients); and secondly, the effect of lytic bacteriophages targeted at specific organisms (phage therapy has been used with increasing success in many clinical decontamination scenarios).
About the School of Dentistry: The primary research objective of the School is to produce internationally competitive research of the highest standards and relevance to dentistry. The School of Dentistry, Cardiff University provides a thorough training programme for all its postgraduate students to support their research career development. The School boasts excellent wet laboratory facilities, including large modernised tissue culture suites, light and fluorescent microscopy facilities (with digital image acquisition), automated time-lapse microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, confocal microscopy, image analysis resources, protein purification and molecular biology facilities (real-time PCR, radiolabelled in situ hybridisation, DNA sequencing). Interdisciplinary research is a major part of the School’s strategy, which is strengthened through collaborations with complementary research disciplines at local, national and international levels.
Please see the School of Dentistry website for further details.
Supervisors: Dr David W Williams (Dental), Dr Melanie Wilson (Dental), Prof Michael Lewis (Dental) and Dr Matt Wise (UHW)
Number of Awards: 1
Successful applicants will receive Full UK/EU tuition fees plus a doctoral stipend matching UK Research Council National Minimum (£13,590 p.a. for 2010/11, updated each year).
Academic Criteria: Applicants should have 2:1 or 1st Class Honours Degree (or demonstrate excellence during previous degrees) in Biological or Biomedical Science subject area. Favourable consideration will be given to applicants with (or expect to obtain) a relevant Masters degree and /or those applicants able to demonstrate some research experience.
Residency: Full awards (fees plus maintenance stipend) are open to UK Nationals, and EU students who can satisfy UK residency requirements. To be eligible for the full award, EU Nationals must have been in the UK for at least 3 years prior to the start of the course for which they are seeking funding, including for the purposes of full-time education. EU Nationals who do not meet the above residency requirement are eligible for a fees-only award, provided that they have been ordinarily resident in the EU for at least 3 years prior to the start of their proposed programme of study.
How to Apply
No separate application is necessary, consideration is automatic upon applying for postgraduate study. Applications for the PhD programme can be made using Cardiff's online applications service. Please indicate that you would like to be considered for this studentship in the funding section of the application form.
Application Deadline: 11th May 2012