Application of molecular imaging techniques for better understanding antimicrobial resistance in biofilms


The burden of antimicrobial resistance is a daily challenge in clinical settings, especially in acute and intensive care units. In burn units, it is estimated that more than 75% of deaths are associated with infections, and a key bacterial pathogen contributing to such infections is Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

On the burn surface, microorganisms commonly exist within a complex, multispecies structure termed a biofilm, which enhances bacterial resistance to antimicrobial agents. Many of these bacteria are becoming multi-drug resistant, which is the main driving force behind the development of new strategies and technologies to tackle such infections. However, how such biocidal products affect the biofilm consortium, their metabolome, and the resulting virulence and resistance of the bacteria is unclear. Such biological understandings may support and direct the future development of novel, rapid, and high throughput detection technologies for differentiation of the key pathogens, which may also provide important clues to prevent a mismatch between therapeutic strategies so that judicious targeted antibiotic therapy is provided, facilitate desirable prognosis and reduce the risk and development of antimicrobial resistance.


This highly multidisciplinary project will require the use of state-of-the-art metabolomic approaches (Raman and infrared spectroscopies, and mass spectrometry) to monitor changes in the metabolic profiles and response of the bacterial cells in biofilm formation upon exposure to various antimicrobial treatments. Various microbiological culturing techniques, including antibiotic resistance profiles and single and multi-consortia biofilm assays will also be learnt.

The multidisciplinary nature of this project will give the successful candidate broad training in modern biology techniques including omics, microbiology, experimental design, bacterial biochemistry, and various multivariate statistical methods. The student will also have the opportunity to visit the industrial partner’s laboratories (which are located close to Liverpool), to become familiar with the different disciplines and techniques. Both laboratories involved in this collaborative project have researchers from a range of backgrounds, countries and disciplines, hence alongside learning the research techniques and transferable skills, the student will actively see how research is translated into industrial and clinical pathways.


Applications should be made by emailing  with:

·        a CV (including contact details of at least two academic (or other relevant) referees);

·        a covering letter – clearly stating your first choice project, and optionally 2nd ranked project, as well as including whatever additional information you feel is pertinent to your application; you may wish to indicate, for example, why you are particularly interested in the selected project(s) and at the selected University;

·        copies of your relevant undergraduate degree transcripts and certificates;

·        a copy of your IELTS or TOEFL English language certificate (where required);

·        a copy of your passport (photo page).

A GUIDE TO THE FORMAT REQUIRED FOR THE APPLICATION DOCUMENTS IS AVAILABLE AT Applications not meeting these criteria may be rejected.

In addition to the above items, please email a completed copy of the Additional Details Form (as a Word document) to . A blank copy of this form can be found at:

Informal enquiries may be made to 

The deadline for all applications is 12noon on Monday 9th January 2023. 


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

CASE studentships are funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) for 4 years. Funding will cover tuition fees at the UK rate only, a Research Training and Support Grant (RTSG) and stipend. We aim to support the most outstanding applicants from outside the UK and are able to offer a limited number of bursaries that will enable full studentships to be awarded to international applicants. These full studentships will only be awarded to exceptional quality candidates, due to the competitive nature of this scheme.



(2022) Simultaneous Raman and Infrared Spectroscopy of Stable Isotope Labelled Escherichia coli. Sensors.
(2015) Combining Raman and FT-IR Spectroscopy with Quantitative Isotopic Labeling for Differentiation of E. coli Cells at Community and Single Cell Levels. Analytical chemistry 87 (8), 4578-4586
(2015) Metabolic profiling of Geobacter sulfurreducens during industrial bioprocess scale-up. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 81 (10), 3288-3298
(2022) Simultaneous Raman and infrared spectroscopy: a novel combination for studying bacterial infections at the single cell level. Chemical Science, 13, 8171-8179.
(2022) Imaging Isotopically Labeled Bacteria at the Single-Cell Level Using High-Resolution Optical Infrared Photothermal Spectroscopy. Analytical Chemistry, 93, 3082-3088.
(2021) Metabolism in action: stable isotope probing using vibrational spectroscopy and SIMS reveals kinetic and metabolic flux of key substrates. Analyst, 146, 1734-1746.