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Eurobiofilms conference 2022- Mallorca, Microbes and Mojitos with Paul Norton.



This year the Balearic Island of Mallorca saw the return of the Eurobiofilms conference, following on from the previous conference hosted in Glasgow in 2019. The opening reception was met with enthusiasm from all attendees who were eager to catch up with colleagues, both past and present.


Upon my registration, I received a name badge that stated I was from Italy – a blunder which resulted in many amusing moments with people trying to work out my accent.



The opening lecture performed by Dr Jose Maria Miro focused on ‘clinical management of biofilm-driven infective endocarditis’ was met with applause and some audience participation, signifying the beginning of a long-awaited conference. This was followed by networking and socialising over complimentary wine and tapas at the prestigious 4-star Melia Palma Marina hotel, which overlooked Palma Bay.


Initially I approached a group who originated from the University of Leeds, PostDoc Jon and his PhD student, Aileen. Both presented posters with a focus on oral biofilms and the use of RAMAN technology, which proved very popular on the subsequent days. Shortly afterwards we were approached by representatives of Ebba biotech who went on to discuss the role of their new fluorescent probe for biofilms (yes, I received a free sample). I also spoke to Elsevier who notified me of article processing charge fee waiver for their new journal, ‘Biofilm’ in celebration of the Eurobiofilms conference. With the formalities out of the way, our small group migrated towards the bar district of Palma to further celebrate the opening night.

Following a much-needed breakfast buffet the next day, the conference kicked off with some interesting talks. Much of the displayed research focused on infected chronic wounds and wound dressings to challenge biofilm eradication, an area very similar to my own work. Talks by Trine Rolighed Thomsen named ‘It is not the hole in the patient- but the whole patient. Biofilm is a key factor in wounds’ and Erin Magee named ‘Non-invasive, 3D printed sensors for pathogen detection and therapeutic monitoring of wound biofilms’ provided food for thought.



The 2nd September saw my turn to present my research. It was also the day where I was faced with the only hurdle of the event – trying to get my poster to stay up on the wall. After 4 different tapes and the forbidden use of drawing pins, I managed to use a very colourful and noticeable tape which clearly made my poster stand out. This choice was not taken lightly, I had been fighting a losing battle with this poster for 45 minutes before admitting defeat. Despite this obstacle, my research proved a success and generated a lot of genuine interest, gaining more attention from industrial companies than university institutions.



This was also the day where I was able to attend a session focused on biofilm eradication from injected catheters – catheters which are usually infected with Staphylococcus aureus, a common skin commensal. Afterwards, it was time for the conference dinner. My experience started off promising – great food and ever greater company – but soon a threshold of alcohol consumption rendered senior academics and PhD students alike, excitable. Combined with the heat from the Majorcan sun, everybody entered into holiday mode and further socialising commenced. From this night, I made strong connections and good friends, who I will not forget in an hurry. In classic Spanish fashion, we migrated to an Irish bar on the Palma Bay front, filled to the brim with British tourists.




Following my 4am return to the hotel and 8am start for the next day, I was in high spirits for the last round of talks. In particular I enjoyed a talk by Dr Karishma S Kaushik named ‘Multi-level structure and organization of mixed-species Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus biofilms in a 4-D wound microenvironment’, who subsequently won an award for best presentation with the prize of a fee waiver for the next conference in Copenhagen 2024.


The conference finished in the late afternoon and after emotional goodbyes and farewells to many people who I will never forget, I arrived back at my hotel for a much-needed extended siesta. My final excursion saw me investigate the beautiful city streets of Palma and trying the local cuisine with the newfound friends I had made. I hope the connections with sponsors and academic groups I have made can associate with the CSS and SMiHA network.


A link to my LinkedIn post Post | Feed | LinkedIn


 

More about Paul


Hi, my name is Paul Norton, I am a Bradford native and resident originally from Keighley. I completed my undergraduate studies with a sandwich year at the University of Huddersfield with a 1st class BSc (Hons) degree in Medical Biology which helped me gain an incredible PhD opportunity at the University of Bradford.


I am a 4th year PhD student at the University of Bradford, Centre for Skin Sciences, under the supervision of Prof Julie Thornton, Dr Maria Katsikogianni and my external supervisor at the University of Newcastle, Dr Chien-Yi Chang. My project is titled ‘Surface engineering novel Polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) polymers to remove pathogenic biofilms from human skin’. An interdisciplinary project which combines the areas of skin science, microbiology, and polymer chemistry. In a nutshell, we propose a novel mechanism to potentiate the removal of antimicrobial resistant bacteria and biofilm from chronic wounds via unique surface topographies/engineering of polymers to create an environment ideal for bacterial attachment. The PDMS will be one of many mechanisms incorporated into a smart wound dressing.


I was fortunate to attend the British society of investigative dermatology conference earlier in April this year as part of my PhD. I made a fantastic connection with Prof Muzliffa Haniffa and was recently successful in obtaining a research assistant/associate post at the University of Newcastle, due to start shortly. The basis of this research post will revolve around the human cell atlas.


 

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