Antimicrobial Resistance in the Real World - Announcement of awards

25 May 2016

NERC, together with the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC), is investing £6·2 million in projects exploring the role of the outdoor environment and host microbiome in influencing the evolution, acquisition and spread of antibacterial resistance.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a growing global problem for both human and animal health. There are increasing numbers of resistant infections, many existing antimicrobials are becoming less effective, and there is rapid spread of multi-drug resistance bacteria. This means that we could be close to a reality where we are unable to prevent or treat everyday infections / diseases.

To address this problem, the seven research councils have been working together through the AMR cross-council initiative. Launched in 2014, the initiative has committed approximately £30 million so far to research in four thematic areas:

  • Theme 1: Understanding resistant bacteria.
  • Theme 2: Accelerating therapeutic and diagnostics development.
  • Theme 3: Understanding the real world interactions.
  • Theme 4: Behaviour within and beyond the health care setting.

This programme, AMR in the Real World, falls under Theme 3 (Understanding the real world interactions). Thirteen successful projects have been awarded, addressing topics such as transmission of AMR from farm / companion animals to humans, exploring AMR risks associated with industrial pollution and understanding how environmental settings act as reservoirs for AMR. The programme supports two types of award: larger research grants and smaller, more focused, pump priming grants.

Professor Tim Wheeler, NERC's director of science & innovation, said:

"The O'Neill Review on Antimicrobial Resistance recognises the need to reduce unnecessary use of antimicrobials and their dissemination into the environment. Such a critical global issue requires complex interdisciplinary research. These exciting projects, supported in partnership with BBSRC and MRC, have the potential to drive important advances in our understanding of antimicrobial resistance in outdoor environments."

The successful projects are:

Research grant call

Lead PI Research organisation Title

Dov Stekel

University of Nottingham EVAL-FARMS: Evaluating the threat of antimicrobial resistance in agricultural manures and slurries
Andrew Singer Centre for Ecology & Hydrology Chicken or the egg: Is AMR in the environment driven by dissemination of antibiotics or antibiotic resistance genes?
Matthew Avison University of Bristol Acquisition and selection of antibiotic resistance in companion and farmed animals and implications for transmission to humans
Derrick Crook University of Oxford The environmental Resistome: confluence of human and animal biota in antibiotic resistance spread (REHAB)

Pump priming call

Lead PI Research organisation Title

Charles Keevil

University of Southampton Occurrence and horizontal gene transfer of carbapenemase and ESBL genes in soil microbiomes
Charles Knapp University of Strathclyde Quantifying spatial AMR patterns across urban and rural landscapes
Emily Rousham Loughborough University Spatial and temporal dynamics of AMR transmission from the outdoor environment to humans in urban and rural Bangladesh
Jennifer Dungait Rothamsted Research Does the potential for AMR selection differ between common UK cattle grazing systems?
Igor Morozov Coventry University Identification of novel double-stranded RNA elements in developing antibiotic resistance in the agricultural environment
Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern University of Bath Impact of stereochemistry of antimicrobial agents on their environmental fate, biological potency and the emergence of resistance
Alexander Corbishley The University of Edinburgh The dynamics of antimicrobial resistance gene prevalence on a commercial pig farm: implications for policy
Jennifer Ritchie University of Surrey A quantitative method to evaluate AMR distribution in complex communities based on methylome profiling
Fiona Henriquez University of the West of Scotland Genes of past, present and future: does legacy pollution contribute to antibiotic resistance in industrialised estuaries?

For further information please contact:

James Box
07928 525444