New global health initiative for genomic surveillance of antimicrobial resistance funded by NIHR

The Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance to house the Global Health Research Unit to monitor antibiotic resistant bacteria around the globe

New global health initiative for genomic surveillance of antimicrobial resistance funded by NIHR

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Funding from the NIHR will enable DNA sequencing and genomic surveillance of resistant bacteria through National laboratories in the Philippines, India, Nigeria and Colombia

The Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance based at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, is to house a Global Health Research Unit to monitor antibiotic resistant bacteria around the globe. Funding for this initiative has been awarded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR), to enable DNA sequencing and genomic surveillance of resistant bacteria through National laboratories in the Philippines, India, Nigeria and Colombia.

The £6.8M funding is part of the wider Official Developmental Assistance (ODA) budget from the government, which aims to improve the health of patients and public in low and middle-income countries. Such research is vital to protect the UK at home. Disease knows no borders, and we are continually under threat from poorly understood infections and antimicrobial resistance. Good health is a global endeavour and the UK is a leader in this area of research and innovation.

Coordinated in the UK and in partnership with leading researchers and institutions in The Philippines, India, Nigeria and Colombia, the Global Health Research Unit will provide surveillance data for bacterial pathogens using whole genome sequencing.

The Unit will provide resources and training in genomic methods, enhancing local capacity for spotting and tracking resistant strains. These data will enable local understanding of resistance while also feeding into national and international monitoring of key bacterial infections. Health care professionals will then be able to use this information to inform public health policy locally and globally.

“It is tremendous news that NIHR are supporting our Global Health Research Unit. Antibiotic resistance is a major international threat to public health and a global problem, which requires co-ordinated responses across multiple countries. This funding will enable us, and partners, to enhance local capacity for research and active genomic surveillance in the Philippines, India, Nigeria and Colombia. Through sampling and sequencing the DNA of resistant and sensitive bacteria within these strategically relevant countries, we will enhance local research capacity while feeding data into national and international surveillance for monitoring and spotting the emergence of resistance. The information from these units will ultimately help to improve the public health response of entire regions.”

Dr David Aanensen, Director of the Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute*

“The award is a major achievement for the Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance. It is wonderful to see the acknowledgement of the substantial research on antimicrobial resistance that is taking place here at the Sanger Institute, and demonstrates strong support for our work from the UK Government.”

Professor Sir Mike Stratton, Director of the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

The locations of the four National laboratories are important, as each is already involved in national antimicrobial programmes and plugged into current networks. By enabling genomic tracking, funding will enhance existing surveillance and local research for these regions while feeding into international and global monitoring.

“With the emergence and global spread of antibiotic resistance, there is a huge need for this type of initiative. Low and middle-income countries have the greatest need for assistance, and the four that have been focused on stand to benefit enormously from the impact of this new technology in their own research and healthcare. These units have strategic positions around the globe as gateways to continents and this initiative is a major milestone in progressing towards global surveillance of antibiotic resistance.”

Professor Sharon Peacock, Honorary Faculty member at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Professor of Microbiology at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Notes to Editors

*Dr David Aanensen’s full affiliations are: Joint Faculty Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Dept. Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College London; and Honorary scientist at University of Cambridge NHS trust.

Selected Websites
What is antibiotic resistance?FactsWhat is antibiotic resistance?
Antibiotic resistance is when bacteria develop the ability to survive exposure to antibiotics designed to kill them or stop their growth.

MRSAVideoMRSA
This animation shows you how antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, such as MRSA, can develop and spread, particularly in hospitals.

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