SYSTEMS APPROACHES TO ANTIMICROBIAL RESISTANCE IN DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS

INITIATOR FUND 

Project period: Feb – April 2017 

GW4 community leads 

University of Bath: Dr Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern 
University of Bristol: Dr Katy Turner (PI) 
Cardiff University: Prof Tim Walsh 
University of Exeter: Dr Will Gaze

Project overview

The community aims to explore and develop projects for future collaborative funding opportunities focused on using systems approaches to understand and tackle the problem of AMR in different environments and communities. 

Background 

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has been identified as a global problem requiring urgent and concerted multidisciplinary action (WHO AMR strategy and the O’Neill AMR Review commissioned by the UK government (https://amr-review.org)). As such, it has been prioritised for research funding through the MRC cross-council AMR initiative (UK) and the Joint Programme Initiative (EU). Phase 2 of cross-council AMR funding will be announced in spring 2017 and will focus on meeting Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) remit. The call is likely to be challenge-led, requiring teams of interdisciplinary investigators to identify and tackle the problem of AMR in a specific system (e.g. in a particular environment or community) in an holistic way to find long-term solutions that are relevant and impact positively on countries in receipt of overseas development aid (ODA). 

We have identified potential synergies between genomic characterisation, environmental detection, novel sensors and transmission dynamic modelling between and within ecosystems of AMR determinants as areas of strength across the GW4 group, but which are not currently collaborating. Understanding the aspects of AMR transmission in different environments is an emerging area of research and is currently poorly understood but is crucial if interventions are to be found to prevent the global transmission of antimicrobial-resistant bacterial strains (and also resistant fungal pathogens) which impact on global heath, food security, and economic and social wellbeing. There is significant scope to bring together this expertise across the GW4 to use systems approaches to understanding and tackling AMR in different environments and communities to benefit both ODA countries and the UK. 

Project summary 

The community held a workshop on “Systems Approaches to AMR in Different Environments” to develop new grant proposals and establish new areas for collaboration between the GW4. This led to a grant for a project with academics in Thailand on One Health drivers of antibacterial resistance. Because of the strength of the community and the new collaborations across the GW4, the community members are now involved in a GW4 Strategic Alliance for AMR research, set up in 2020.