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PhD position in microbiology and 3D printing biofilm

The project

Bacteria within a biofilm are up to 1,000-fold more resistant to antibiotics and are inherently insensitive to the host immune response. This is particularly relevant for patients affected by Cystic Fibrosis (CF), also called mucoviscidosis. Indeed, once Pseudomonas aeruginosa colonizes the lungs, it can acquire a mucoid phenotype, which renders infections insensitive to antibiotics.

Our preliminary data show that antibiotherapy directly impacts on extracellular polymeric substances (EPS) properties [1], and our hypothesis is that those environmental factors have a pernicious role on bacteria embedded in such structure, rendering them even less permissive to antibiotherapy.


Our goal

We want to establish a standardized and clinically relevant 3D in vitro model of CF-Biofilm to screen environment-specific stresses and directly measure its influence on P. aeruginosa biofilms.

The main aims of the 3.5 years PhD position are (1) to establish a relevant in vitro model of CF-biofilm, (2) to elucidate the effect of EPS remodelling on P. aeruginosa, and (3) to test new molecules able to restore the antibiotics efficacy using high-throughput screening.

No study reports on how EPS remodelling can alter locally the biofilm micro-environment and the embedded microorganisms. Finding adjuvants that prevent the EPS from neutralizing antibiotics could revolutionize how we tackle biofilm antimicrobial resistance.


Your job

Isolate, purify and characterize important extrapolymeric substances of Cystic Fibrosis biofilms (use of bioreactors).

Developing bioinks with presence of Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Understanding interplay between EPS remodelling and bacteria behaviour, in terms of viability, metabolic activity, EPS production and gene expression.


Your profile

Applicants should have a strong experience in microbiology, to grow and characterize bacteria and to test antibiotic efficacy. Experience with bioreactors culture and with 3D bioprinting would be an advantage but not mandatory.


What we offer

The project is interdisciplinary with strong collaborations across scientific disciplines.

The main coordinator of this project is Dr. Guillaume Olivier (TU Wien). The main activity will be conducted at the Institute for Biologically Inspired Materials (BIMat) at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna. Prof E. Reimhult, head of the BIMat will co-supervise this PhD program. Nevertheless, around 30% of the project will be done at the TU Wien, in the 3D Printing and Biofabrication Group of the Institute of Materials Science and Technology, Vienna (Head, Prof. A Ovsianikov).

The Reimhult group offers the complete infrastructure, including microbiology laboratories (including bioreactor, HPLC, FPLC, columns for EPS purification, RNA isolation and PCR for gene expression), wide-field and electron microscopes (holographic microscope, SEM, TEM and recently developed DDM to measure locally mechanical properties of hydrogel) and biopolymer characterization equipments (including 1H-NMR, FT-IR, GPC, DSC and TGA). ITC, DSC, TGA, FT-IR and confocal microscopy available at the core facilities “Biomolecular & Cellular Analysis”, “Extremophile Center” and “VIBT Imaging Center”.

The Ovsianikov group has full access to various printing/bioprinting equipment (bioprinter Cell link BioX and 2-photon polymerization apparatus) to conduct ink/hydrogel characterization (rheometer, AFM, 1H-NMR, FT-IR, DSC and TGA if required) and microscopic analyses (confocal LSM700 and LSM800).

The PhD candidate will be registered at the BOKU, full-time position (30hrs/week). The candidate will be enrolled in the BioMatInt doctoral school:


For further information, you are welcome to contact Dr. Olivier Guillaume E-mail:


or Prof. Erik Reimhult



If you are interested, please send CV, motivation letter and referee contacts directly to Dr. Guillaume or to Prof. Reimhult. The recruitment will start in June 2020.



[1]: Heriot M. et al, Interaction of Gentamicin Sulfate With Alginate and Consequences on the Physico-Chemical Properties of Alginate-Containing Biofilms (2019) Int J Biol Macromol.


* Please make sure that the provided files are in English or German and do not exceed 2 MB.

We leave the right not to reply to general requests not fulfilling the formal requirements described above and / or motivation letter not addressing any of the research areas of AMT team.