Eradicating bacterial biofilms with nitroxide-antimicrobial hybrids

Study level



Drug-resistant infections are currently implicated in over 700,000 deaths per year worldwide and this number is projected to reach near 10 million lives per year by 2050 if new solutions to antibiotic resistance are not found. This project aims to develop new antimicrobials to address the rise of drug-resistant infections and resilient bacterial communities called biofilms. Biofilms are resistant to the activity of antibiotics and this project will investigate the use of nitroxides (molecules which interfere with bacterial communication within a biofilm) as an alternative strategy for biofilm eradication.

Research Activities

Both PhD projects will involve the design and synthesis of new anti-biofilm agents (small peptide or antibiotic based nitroxide hybrid molecules), their purification and structural characterization. Students will also be given the opportunity to evaluate the antimicrobial properties and mode of action of their prepared compounds. The students will work alongside a number of postdoctoral researchers and PhD students in the synthetic chemistry and microbiology laboratories of Prof Fairfull-Smith and A/Prof Totsika at QUT.


The main outcome of the project will be the development of agents capable of treating biofilm infections with low propensity for the development of microbial resistance. Furthermore, an understanding of their mechanism of action will enable the development of more effective approaches to prevent and treat antibiotic resistant biofilm infections.

Skills and experience

These PhD positions would suit candidates with a background in organic chemistry, inclusive of skills in modern synthetic chemistry, purification and analysis. Skills in microbiology would be advantageous but are not essential. PhD candidates must be capable of working in a team environment and have excellent laboratory record keeping skills. Demonstrated research excellence indicators such as peer-reviewed publication are desirable but not essential.