Unique collaboration of research councils to tackle antimicrobial resistance

18 July 2014

The new Science Minister, Greg Clark, has announced that all seven UK research councils, under the leadership of the Medical Research Council (MRC), will join forces to form a ’war cabinet’ to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

The unique collaboration, which is backed by eight government bodies and biomedical research charity the Wellcome Trust, will coordinate the work of medical researchers, biologists, engineers, vets, economists, social scientists and even designers in a bid to tackle the multitude of issues related to antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The collaborative approach is hoping to find solutions to the issue; the MRC has calculated that since 2007, the UK alone has already spent £275m on research in this area.

The announcement builds on earlier this month the theme of the high-profile Longitude Prize being revealed as the challenge of antibiotic resistance, along with Professor Dame Sally Davies warning that if scientists failed to develop new antibiotics modern medicine “would quickly go out of the window”.  Alongside this, earlier this week Public Health England (PHE) announced that it is focusing on infectious disease genomics with new systems for storage and analysis of big data.   

With an initial £25 million from the existing science budget of the three largest research councils, the new collaboration will look at four key themes, of which two are currently open for research proposals. The themes are understanding resistant bacteria in the context of the host, accelerating therapeutic and diagnostic development, understanding the real world interactions, and behaviour within and beyond the healthcare setting.

Professor Sir John Savill, Chief Executive of the MRC said: “This is about tackling the problem at every level and in every environment – from labs to livestock, from finding new diagnostic tools to educating professionals and the public”.


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