SA04: Novel polymeric antimicrobial architectures for treatment of Acanthamoeba keratitis through precision polymer synthesis

Supervisory Team

Dr Wayne Heaselgrave, School of Biomedical Science and Physiology and Dr Daniel Keddie, School of Biology, Chemistry and Forensic Science

Project Description

With the prevalence of drug-resistant infection on the rise there is a real and urgent need to develop new antimicrobial agents. One disease which we are particularly interested in developing a licensed treatment for is Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK). AK is a blinding infection in the eye caused by the organism Acanthamoeba. The current (unlicensed) gold standard treatment of this condition is use of the polyhexamethylene biguanide (PHMB), a commercial broad spectrum polymeric antimicrobial often used as a pool disinfectant.  In many cases however the patients do not respond well to this therapy, the eventual result being surgical removal of the eye following irreversible destruction of corneal tissue. Clearly there is a need for the development of improved therapies for the treatment of AK.

In this project the candidate will undertake the synthesis of a family of polymers bearing a range of functionalities known to possess activity against AK (e.g. triazoles, biguanides, diamidines, aminoamidines) and subsequently screen their antimicrobial activity against Acanthamoeba. Precision polymer synthesis techniques will be used to prepare polymers with a range of macromolecular architectures with a view to understanding the relationship between structure and activity.

The successful candidate will be trained in a range of advanced synthetic techniques used in the preparation of functional small molecules and precision polymers and develop skills in microbiology. Laboratory work and characterization will be undertaken within the University of Wolverhampton’s new Science Centre, the Rosalind Franklin building, which houses a broad range of state-of-the-art research facilities suitable for undertaking this multidisciplinary project. 


We welcome applications at any time from self-funded students that are well qualified and highly motivated. Applicants should have a recognized Honours or Masters degree with a 2.1 or equivalent in Chemistry, Engineering or Materials (or a related field).

Applicants whose entry award was not delivered in English, or non-native speaker of English shall be required to demonstrate proficiency in English at least to the level of an IELTS score of 7.0 or its equivalent. 

How to apply

Complete the Research Project Application Form (Word doc 679k) and email to 

See Guidance for the Completion of the Research Project Application Form (Word doc 23k) for details.

For more information

For an informal discussion please contact Dr Heaselgrave or Dr Keddie via email at  or