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Breaking Bad Biofilms. Innovative Analysis and Design Rules for Next-Generation Antifouling Interfaces (BREAK BIOFILMS)

Biofilms, i.e., communities of micro-organisms that attach and grow on a solid surface, cause about 80% of infections in humans and disinfectants rarely succeed in destroying them. Significantly, when in biofilms, bacteria can be 1000-times more resistant to antibiotics (AMR) and other environmental pressures. On average more than 4 million people per European country catch an infectious disease every year with 110,000 mortalities as consequence, and at least 65% are associated with biofilms. In industrial settings, biofilm removal costs are > €500 billion per annum worldwide.

BREAK BIOFILMS is an EU network of postgraduate students that will develop their PhD around the core project topic Biofilms. Our objective is to train the next generation leaders who have analytical, modelling, and synthetic/fabrication expertise for detecting and preventing biofilms in industrially and biomedically relevant environments. For that, an innovative, multidisciplinary, and inter-sectoral training programme will be implemented providing PhD students not only with excellent technical capabilities but also with generic soft skills, exposition to academia and industry environments or their training in entrepreneurship and business aspects through the generation and operation of a virtual company with the technologies developed through the project. 

The main technical objective of Break Biofilms ETN is to develop integrated, next generation prevention, detection and removal strategies so as to establish Europe as a global leader in the field. For that, four different main topics will be studied around Biofilms: (i) deep understanding of the (bio)physicochemical mechanisms of biofilm formation and AMR; ii) their detection and identification with extreme sensitivity and the development of next generation methodologies for controlling and preventing; and iii) destroying biofilms in areas where their presence is detrimental; and finally iv) their inhibition.

The PhD student hosted by ASINCAR will be involved in a sub-project, framed on the detection pillar, that aims to develop a novel, non-destructive, real-time and portable method for the detection of complex bacterial biofilms in the Agri-food industry based on the use of NIR spectroscopy.

The network will involve the education of 15 PhD students and brings together world leaders in sensors, cell imaging, microbiology, interfacial engineering and nanoformulation from 6 universities, 9 companies, a research centre, and a Business and Innovation Centre. Beyond the trained researchers, this project will produce technologies that will enhance the productivity of European industry as well as create intellectual property with a strong probability of commercialization.

More information


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 813439