Lucideon and partners awarded €3.9m grant to train PhD researchers to develop antibacterial medical materials

Four-year project will engage 15 researchers to create and implement new strategies to combat bacteria

Lucideon, a UK-based provider of materials development, testing and assurance, together with nine European consortium partners, has been awarded a €3.9m (£2.8m) grant by the European Commission to train industry PhD researchers for the development of drug-free antibacterial materials used for medical applications, such as wound care and implants.

Biomedical polymers have been widely used in combination with drugs in medical settings but it has been a challenge to develop new materials that have an intrinsic antibacterial functionality, the company said. To meet this need, a new generation of professionals will be trained under the project, 'Drug-Free Antibacterial Hybrid Biopolymers for Medical Applications (HyMedPoly)’, which Lucideon is co-ordinating.

HyMedPoly will engage 15 researchers to create and implement new strategies to combat bacteria. Seven of them will be jointly supervised by Lucideon together with two universities, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg and the University of Southampton, the research institute, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and industry partner Vornia Biomaterials.

The unique advantage of the new training scheme is that industry is directly involved in supervising PhD projects together with universities

The four-year project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 643050.

HyMedPoly will offer a joint training programme at academic and industrial institutes, combining technical knowledge with hands-on training in state-of-the-art research projects related to key issues that determine the future therapies of antibacterial materials.

Dr Xiang Zhang, Royal Society Industry Fellow, Head of Medical Materials and Devices at Lucideon and co-ordinator of the HyMedPoly project said: 'This European Industrial Doctorates programme is a new initiative for training future professionals for industry. The unique advantage of the new training scheme is that industry is directly involved in supervising PhD projects together with universities so that young researchers can gain industry knowledge and experiences during their PhD study.

'This is the first time that an industry partner has co-ordinated a PhD training project to develop new biomaterials in the war against bacteria. Due to resistance of bacteria to drugs, infection has become one of the toughest problems in the medical world as there are hardly any effective antibiotics left in the fight against many pathogens. This project is the initial step in developing new therapies through a new combined technology using new hybrid inorganic and polymeric materials with antibacterial functionalities.'

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