Bacterial infections of biomaterials are a significant issue that accounts for the failure of a number of medical devices, including dental restorative fillings, orthopedic implants, contact lenses, and catheters. Medical devices placed within the body are immediately coated with an adsorbed protein layer. Surface properties of the device are known to alter the composition of this protein layer, which can then modulate the biological response to the device. This research opportunity focuses on the effects of material properties on biofouling due to protein adsorption and bacterial attachment. New methods will be developed to measure and correlate material surface properties, protein adsorption, and the resultant bacterial attachment and biofilm formation. Modeling and simulation will also be applied to study in-depth the adhesive mechanisms between materials, proteins, and bacteria on the molecular level, as well as interactive mechanisms between material degradation and biofilm growth. Improved characterization and knowledge of surface-protein-bacteria interactions will be used to develop novel strategies to resist and/or control bacterial adhesion.
Bacteria; Biofilm; Biofilm-material interactions; Biofouling; Biomaterials; Computational chemistry; Dental materials; Medical devices; Polymers; Protein adsorption; Surface characterization; Surface properties;