Four UK-based universities have been awarded multimillion pound grants to conduct research into the biological, cultural, social and economic drivers behind the development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
The rewarded universities – the University of Bristol, the University of Glasgow, the University of St. Andrews and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine – will receive £12m (~€13m) and use a range of research approaches to help identify, prioritise and understand the specific problem of antimicrobial resistance.
The institutions will operate in contrasting areas of high and low resistance including urban, semi-urban and rural settings.
This will allow a unique comparison of geographical, economic and social contexts, in order to better inform future interventions to prevent the spread of infections and resistance.
Antimicrobial resistance – a “complex and fast-evolving issue”
Dr Jonathan Pearce, head of infections and immunity at the MRC, said: “Antimicrobial resistance is a complex and fast-evolving issue for healthcare and agriculture worldwide. It’s a problem that cannot be dealt with by one country acting alone, so these kinds of international, collaborative research projects are absolutely crucial to developing our understanding and finding solutions.
“There are worrying gaps in our understanding of the spread and transmission of drug-resistant infections, the factors driving such resistance, and how these factors are influenced by, and interact with, different environments. The challenge is exacerbated by rapidly increasing urbanisation, poverty and inequalities, conflict and fragility, changing patterns of food production and expanding globalisation, which means data and insight is missing from the countries and communities who need it most.
“It is predicted that AMR will kill more people than cancer by 2050 worldwide if we do not come together to find a solution. We must act before it is too late.”
Tackling the global health challenge
Professor Chris Whitty, chief scientific advisor, Department of Health and Social Care, added: “AMR is a multidimensional global health issue which has the potential of creating a disproportionate health and economic burden on low- and middle-income countries (LMICs).
“The NIHR, working in partnership with the cross-research council AMR initiative, is pleased to be supporting four multidisciplinary consortia to identify the factors driving microbial resistance in LMICs and contribute to the development of context-specific interventions to tackle this global health challenge.”