Inhibiting Bacteria Infection in Healthcare Devices through Surface Chemistry Treatments and Fluid Flow Control

Web Published:

Princeton Docket # 15-3109-1


Researchers in the Departments of Molecular Biology and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University have designed new methods to effectively inhibit the entry, spread and growth of bacteria.


The entry of pathogenic bacteria into fluid-filled networks of the body causes serious infection and sepsis. In particular, sepsis is one of the most expensive conditions to treat in hospitals, costing more than $20 billion in 2011. Also, Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a major cause of hospital-acquired infections, burn infections, and cystic fibrosis infections. Researchers at Princeton have discovered a mechanism by which P. aeruginosa invades and spreads through branched fluid flow networks that mimic vasculature. Additionally, they discovered that P. aeruginosa uses a combination of motility modes to move upstream, laterally and downstream on surfaces, enabling it to spread and grow rapidly in branched flow networks common to physiology and medical devices.


This innovation describes a surface treatment, which combines surface chemistry modification and understanding the influence of the geometry of a flow network, to adhere and immobilize P. aeruginosa in liquid flow networks. It has been proven that growth and dispersal in a vascular-like network is inhibited by this treatment. The innovation includes suggestions for fluid network designs to inhibit flow-driven upstream migration of bacteria. As many other pathogenic bacteria possess similar motility structures, this process is likely to be effective toward a broad range of pathogens. This process can limit the spread of bacteria in healthcare devices and in human, animal and plant vasculatures, thereby reducing the potential for infection and sepsis.



•       Bacterial infection control

  1.       Medical devices

  2.       Catheter tubes

  3.       Intravenous lines

  4.       Water supply lines

  5.       Patients’ wound sites



•       Effective infection control

•       Compatible with most surface materials

•       Simple treatment process


The Faculty Inventors


Howard A. Stone, Donald R. Dixon and Elizabeth W. Dixon Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Department Chair

Howard Stone is the Donald R. Dixon '69 and Elizabeth W. Dixon Professor in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University. His research has been concerned with a variety of fundamental problems in fluid motions dominated by viscosity, so-called low Reynolds number flows, and has frequently featured a combination of theory, computer simulation and modeling, and experiments to provide a quantitative understanding of the flow phenomenon under investigation. Prof. Stone is the recipient of the most prestigious fluid mechanics prize, the Batchelor Prize 2008, for the best research in fluid mechanics in the last ten years. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences.



Zemer Gitai, Professor of Molecular Biology and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Molecular Biology

Zemer Gitai's research focuses on the cell biology of bacteria.  His lab studies how cells self-organize across spatial scales, using quantitative, molecular, and engineering approaches.  His work discovered new components of the bacterial cytoskeleton, new functions for bacterial polymers in metabolism, compartmentalization, and chromosome dynamics, and established the importance of protein assembly for unexpected processes like metabolism and pathogenesis.  Prof. Gitai's achievements have been recognized by many prestigious awards, including the NIH New Innovator Award, the Beckman Young Investigator Award, and the HFSP Young Investigator Award.


Intellectual Property & Development Status


Patent protection is pending.

Princeton is currently seeking commercial partners for the further development and commercialization of this opportunity.




Michael R. Tyerech

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing

• (609) 258-6762•

Xin (Shane) Peng

Princeton University Office of Technology Licensing

• (609) 258-5579•


Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Linda Jan
Technology Licensing Associate
Princeton University
Howard Stone
Zemer Gitai
Min Kim
Yi Shen
Albert Siryaporn