Study level

  • PhD
  • Master of Philosophy
  • Honours


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Phong Tran
Division / Faculty
Professor Prasad Yarlagadda
Professor in Smart Systems
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Engineering


The recent COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of how difficult it is to control infectious diseases. Pathogenic microorganisms are known to be extremely 'smart' and are able to quickly develop mechanisms against most of our strategies aimed at eradicating them.

Our group is focused on bacterial infections to implants and medical devices. We are in the pursuit to outsmart the bacteria to develop the next generation medical device and implant materials.

When a biomaterial is implanted into the body and bacteria get into the implantation site, both the bacteria and tissue cells actively seek to establish their colonization on the biomaterial surface. This process, called ‘the race for the surface’ by Anthony Gristina in 1987, is still a subject of intense investigation. It is generally accepted that a biomaterial’s success in integrating with the body depends on if tissue cells win or the bacteria win the race. However, evidence from the literature has been accumulating to suggest that this ‘race for the surface’ is more complex and we should look at the picture more holistically.

Research activities

This project aims to investigate how the interactions of bacteria with tissue cells and with biomaterial surfaces influence the fate of the bacteria. Students will be embedded in a multidisciplinary team and working with material scientists, microbiologists and surgeons. Using cutting-edge technological tools, students will design surfaces and conduct bacterial experiments to gain new understanding that can ultimately lead to the development of better antimicrobial implants for patients.


The research activities are expected to generate new understanding of bacteria movement in different environment and how the microenvironment can be used to control this movement. The findings can ultimately lead to the development of better antimicrobial implants for patients.

Skills and experience

  • Microbiology knowledge.
  • Cell/bacterial culture.


You may be eligible to apply for a research scholarship.

Explore our research scholarships



Contact the supervisor for more information.