PhD: Developing a novel approach to improve the welfare of dairy cows

Mastitis is predominantly treated with antibiotics. However, antibiotic use is discouraged due to development of antimicrobial resistance and residues in milk. Novel strategies for preventing mastitis are urgently needed.

Cold atmospheric plasma (CAP) is a novel non-thermal technology exhibiting antibacterial properties, produced in the laboratory by excitation of gas molecules using electrical discharges. CAP has the potential to inhibit bacterial biofilms and promote healing of injuries due to the reactive species it contains (e.g. oxygen/nitrogen). We have shown that CAP is effective in eliminating bacterial pathogens on steel/polymer, food and artificial human skin. This project will explore the use of CAP to prevent bovine mastitis, thereby improving milk quality/production and animal welfare, and reducing the use of antibiotics. For the first time, we will investigate: i) the efficacy of CAP against bacterial biofilms associated with mastitis and ii) the safety of CAP on bovine mammary cells, using 3D printed bovine mammary skin and ex-vivo skin models.

The student will join active interdisciplinary research groups with access to world class facilities at University of Bristol (animal welfare, physiology, regenerative medicine) and University of the West of England (cold plasma, microbiology, cell biology and metabolism), will receive excellent training and support from their supervisory team, and develop the skills and enterprising mindset that employers seek. The student will benefit from a rich collaboration with Dr Lamprou, expert on 3D-printed skin models (Queen’s University Belfast).

Lead supervisors: Prof John Tarlton (UoB), Dr Alexandros Stratakos (UWE) Dr Daniel Enriquez-Hidalgo (UoB), Dr Tim Craig (UWE)

Salary: For eligible students UKRI Doctoral Stipend ( £15,009 p.a. standard or £23,164 p.a. for those with a recognised veterinary degree)

Closing date: 07/12/2020

Further information can be found here.