Mr James Butler

James Butler

Visiting Specialist

Faculty of Science and Engineering

PhD Researcher


2018-present PhD in Microbiology and Nanomaterials, University of Plymouth.
2017-2018 MSc Biomedical Science (Immunology), achieved Distinction, University of Plymouth.
2014-2017 BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science, achieved 2:1, University of Plymouth.

Professional membership

  • Member of Microbiology Society.
  • Member of Society for Applied Microbiology.
  • Member of the Royal Society of Biology (MRSB).

Teaching interests

  • I have had teaching and demonstrating roles on the modules BHCS1006 Infection & Immunity, BHCS1001 Biomedical Investigation and Experimentation, BIOM5005 Project Design and Development, and BHCS2006 Infection, Immunity and Disease.
  • I have completed the 'Supporting Assessment, Learning & Teaching' (SALT) workshop (November 2018).
  • I have previous experience as a PALS (Peer-Assisted Learning Scheme) Leader and Senior Leader (2015-2017).

Research interests

My interests are in infection, biofilm formation, antimicrobial development and antimicrobial resistance. I also have some involvement through my PhD project with materials science and surface chemistry. 

PhD project title: "Development of a novel antibacterial silver nanocoating to reduce nosocomial infections"

Nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infections and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) are leading priorities for the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. A major microbial reservoir and source of nosocomial infections is the hospital sanitary plumbing system (SPS), for example sink traps and U-bends on hospital wards. Bacteria in these environments form biofilms, complex polymicrobial communities which secrete extracellular polymeric substances to lend protection and promote persistence, while also facilitating horizontal gene transfer (allowing spread of antibiotic resistance genes). Biofilms release bacteria naturally and when physically disrupted; these released bacteria can be transported away from the initial biofilm by formation of airborne particles such as droplets and bioaerosols. Upon exposure to patients, particularly vulnerable or immunologically compromised individuals, these bacteria can cause morbidity and mortality. Metal nanoparticles offer a potential solution to the problems of bacterial surface colonisation and biofilm formation due to their intrinsic antibacterial and antibiofilm activity, potentially greater longevity and efficacy compared to traditional disinfectants, and ability to be applied to surfaces as an antimicrobial nanocoating. In my PhD project, I aim to develop metal nanoparticle-based coating for application to plumbing polymers such as PVC, assess this nanocoating for its antibacterial and antibiofilm properties in vitro, and later conduct in situ testing of the nanocoating in real-life hospital environments.

Other research

I have previously completed the following research projects:

  • "Live and heat-killed lactobacilli and their DNA modulate pro-inflammatory cytokine responses in differentiated macrophages" with Dr Andrew Foey (MSc project; 2017-2018).
  • "Investigating mosaic tetracycline resistance genes with further analysis of a potentially novel mosaic" with Dr Philip Warburton (undergraduate dissertation project; 2016-2017)
  • "How do neural stem cells wake up? An investigation of potentially involved molecular signals" with Dr Claudia Barros (Summer research studentship; 2015).


Butler, J.
, Upton, M., Farnham, G. and Besinis, A. Antimicrobial nanocoatings in medicine and dentistry. Manuscript in preparation.

Warburton, P. J., Butler, J. and Roberts, A. P. Characterisation of novel mosaic tetracycline resistance genes comprising tet(M) and tet(O). Manuscript in preparation.