Musculoskeletal Tissue Regeneration

ESR project


Title of Project

Novel treatment of periprosthetic joint infection

We offered

A 4-year PhD student position in the interdisciplinary area of regenerative medicine. The project will focus on biofilm related bone and implant infections.


Reconstruction of bone and joints with metal implant is a common procedure in orthopaedic and trauma surgery. A severe complication in these procedures is a prosthetic infection as bacteria can easily attach to an implant and form a so-called biofilm. In particular Staphylococcus aureus is the most leading bacterium for implant infection and an excellent biofilm former. Biofilm related infections are not only difficult to diagnose, but bacteria in a biofilm are relative insensitive to antibiotics and therefore extensive and challenging revision surgery is needed in which all implanted material has to be removed and replaced. Elderly or compromised patients with e.g. rheumatoid diseases or cancer have higher chance of infection and also life-threatening recurrence after revision may occur. Altogether this is a growing problem in orthopaedic and trauma surgery, with high morbidity and even mortality for patients and huge medical costs. In this project we will develop specific antibodies, which can trace the biofilm infection after intravenous injection and bring molecules to the infected site that can either visualize or eradicate the infection. The project will provide a completely new outlook on diagnosis and treatment of implant infections and lead to new products that overcome the current difficulties of this severe disease.

The candidate will be part of an extensive team of researchers with specific knowledge of bone, orthopaedic (metal) implants and bacterial infections. The project involves the development of alternative novel treatments as well as visualization tools for Staphylococcus based peri-implant infections, in which functionalized antibody (VHH) technology will be used. Using these antibodies a biofilm can be traced and diagnosed as well as eradicated using radioisotopes or direct interference of the antibody with proteins that hold the biofilm together.

Contact person & more information

Prof. dr. Harrie Weinans, UMC Utrecht


This project is part of RESCUE, a multidisciplinary, intersectoral and interdisciplinary PhD training programme in Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cells organised by UMC Utrecht (coordinator) and Utrecht University. RESCUE is partly funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020's Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND scheme. There are specific requirements with regards to English language and mobility for candidates who would like to take part in this programme. More information