By Gabriele Butkute, science policy assistant at the Society of Biology and the Biochemical Society
If we fail to act on AMR then an additional 10 million lives would be lost each year to drug-resistant strains of malaria, HIV, TB, and certain bacterial infections by 2050, at a cost to the world economy of 100 trillion USD (O’Neill, 2015).
To enable collaboration in tackling this issue the Learned Society Partnership on Antimicrobial Resistance (LeSPAR) recently organised a series of three networking workshops on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), in London, Dundee and Nottingham, which brought together a wide range of researchers at all career stages, industry representatives and policymakers.
Funding for research is always a key issue, and so to help tackle AMR a Cross Council Initiative was created in 2014 called the UK AMR Funders Forum, with leadership from the MRC. It aims to encourage collaboration, coordination of key disciplines, and integration across human and animal healthcare, as well as to raise the profile of the AMR research base in the UK and internationally.
The workshops focused on three topics; antimicrobial resistance environments, evolution, and transmission. Excellent talks from research councils and academics where followed by a networking session where delegates not only got to get to know each other better but also proposed questions for discussion during the event.
A wide range of topics and issues were covered, including funding, diagnostic technique improvements, encouragement of the dialogue between the academia and industry, and the importance of social sciences.
A small selection of the challenges highlighted includes:
- how to manage the enormous amount of data required to accurately map AMR occurrence;
- how to support the researchers interested in AMR;
- how to best relate laboratory research to real-life case studies, and how to improve models;
- how to persuade medical practitioners to reduce the use of antimicrobials;
- how to enhance surveillance of emerging resistant strains;
- how to determine the number of new antibiotics needed, and whether the potency of the current drugs can be restored by redesigning their administration.
The information collected from the discussion sessions will be collated and used as evidence on what the views and needs are across the sectors, it will help engagement with the Government and other funders to achieve policy and funding support for the AMR community.
For more information read: Tackling antimicrobial resistance – impressions from a LeSPAR networking workshop – a blog post by Dr Adam Ostrowski, a post-doctoral researcher from the University of Dundee, the Dundee workshop Storify and the Society of Biology briefing note on antimicrobial resistance.