PhD project

Advanced Biomaterial for Preventing Catheter-Associated Infections

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Application deadline

31 October 2022

About the project

Urinary catheters are used as soon as a patient cannot control urine drain as a consequence of incontinence or urine retention. Catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTIs) account for about one-third of all hospital-acquired infections and more than 1 million CAUTIs occur annually in the United States and Europe. CAUTIs cost the UK NHS approximately £99 million per year and result in increased morbidity and mortality. Currently, only a silver-coated catheter and a PTFE-coated catheter are still widely used in hospitals.

Unfortunately clinical studies have shown that the use of silver-coated or PTFE-coated urinary catheters has resulted in an insignificant reduction in infection. Our new idea is to combine the anti-bacterial property of silver and anti-adhesive property of PTFE in a single coating by incorporating PTFE nano-particles into a silver matrix using a cost-effective electroless deposition technique. In addition, we will also investigate the influence of surface nano/micro-structure on bacterial adhesion and

The aim of the proposed research is to develop the novel silver-PTFE nanocomposite coatings on full-length Foley catheters and to evaluate their anti-biofilm properties and anti-encrustation formation in a simulated in vivo environment mimicking human bladder and long-term catheterisation. The research proposal will focus on the achievement of the following specific objectives:

  1. To coat urinary catheters with a layer of Ag-PTFE nano-composite coatings using the electroless plating system available at the Biomaterial Research Centre
  2. To evaluate the anti-stick and anti-bacterial properties of the nano-coatings using a Fluorescent Microscope, as compared with existing uncoated/coated catheters
  3. To characterize the surface properties of the coatings using SEM, XPS and OCA-20 etc
  4. To evaluate anti-bacterial and anti-encrustation performance of coated catheters with bladder models that mimic human bladder
  5. To produce the complete prototypes- novel silver-PTFE coated catheters with anti-bacterial properties, which are suitable for clinical trials

How to apply


31 October 2022

  1. Email Dr Qi Zhao ( to:
    • send a copy of your CV
    • discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date)
  2. After discussion with Dr Zhao, formal applications can be made via our direct application system. Apply for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in Biomedical Engineering.
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Principal supervisor

Second supervisor