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The role of adsorbed protein conformation in the recognition and attachment of Staphylococcus epidermidis to implant surfaces

The Carlsberg Foundation’s Distinguished Associate Professor Fellowships


The changes in protein shape that are triggered when proteins arrive at an implant surface may fundamentally alter the availability of these proteins to the colonizing bacteria. Controlling these changes can therefore be exploited in an effort to promote tissue integration while preventing bacterial colonization.


Biomedical implants are prone to untreatable infections because bacteria can colonize their surface and form a biofilm that is invulnerable to antibiotics and even the immune system. Tackling this challenge starts with understanding how the colonization occurs.


This project investigates how the implant material properties affect the orientation and shape of human proteins that adsorb to its surface. Bacteria attach to implants by binding to these proteins in a lock-and-key manner. The project investigates such bacteria-protein interactions with highly sensitive single-cell and single-molecule techniques, and the aim is to understand how the biomaterial properties can promote or prevent the interaction by affecting the shape of the adsorbed proteins.