This NERC-funded Knowledge Exchange Fellowship will improve understanding of antimicrobial resistance in academia, government and industry. It is aiming to inform policy making, regulation, mitigation and risk reduction strategies.
The project is focusing on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in bacteria and specifically the role of the environment in increasing resistance seen in clinical pathogens.
AMR is ancient, having evolved in environmental bacteria over millions or billions of years. Resistance mechanisms that evolved over evolutionary time have been mobilised from environmental bacteria to human pathogens through a process known as horizontal gene transfer.
AMR is the phenomenon that leads to treatment failure of infections caused by pathogenic organisms such as bacteria. Professor Dame Sally Davies, UK Chief Medical Officer, has compared the threat posed by AMR to that of climate change and global terrorism.
If current trends continue it is estimated that AMR infections will be the leading cause of death by 2050 with a cumulative cost to society of $100 trillion.
Levels of AMR are high in environments impacted by human and animal waste and it is known that significant exposure risk to AMR bacteria occurs in environments such as coastal bathing waters. However, the relative importance of environmental exposure and transmission is currently uncertain as is the nature of evidence required to inform policy and regulation.
During the course of this fellowship, knowledge exchange will be supported through the development of a web-based resource and conferences that bring together relevant government bodies, policy makers and representatives of key industries, including the water and pharmaceutical industries.
Outputs will include policy recommendations co-designed by all partners, and a report and scientific publication highlighting knowledge gaps and current barriers to policy implementation.