India-UK Tackling AMR in the Environment from Antimicrobial Manufacturing Waste

Wastewater pipes

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global public health challenge, with antibacterial resistance (ABR) viewed as posing one of the most serious health threats. Studies indicate high levels of antibiotics, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes in various environments around the world, originating particularly from sewage, agriculture and antimicrobial manufacturing effluent. The role of effluent from antimicrobial manufacturing is particularly pertinent in India.

This programme is a partnership between UKRI in the UK and the Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ministry of Science & Technology, Government of India. Research funded under the programme will focus on the situation in India, as a major producer of antimicrobials in the global supply chain of the pharmaceutical industry, and a scientifically appropriate place to study this global issue.

UK-India tackling AMR in the environment from antimicrobial manufacturing waste - Partnership workshop

Closing date: 14 Apr

19 Mar 2019

NERC is inviting expressions of interest from UK researchers to attend a partnership workshop (15-17 May 2019 in New Delhi, India) to provide opportunities for face-to-face networking and develop new collaborations.

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A growing number of published studies indicate high levels of antibiotics, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and antibiotic resistance genes in various environments around the world, originating particularly from sewage, agriculture and antimicrobial manufacturing effluent. This accumulation creates the conditions for the proliferation and transmission of resistant bacteria from the environment directly to humans as well as through selection and horizontal gene transfer from commensal to pathogenic bacteria (PDF) - external link.

Whilst the significance of the impact manufacturing waste might have on the environment is unclear, there is potential for high levels of localised contamination because of the large quantity of antimicrobial waste generated during the production process relative to the diffuse environmental exposure that may result from patient or animal use. Recent studies have shown that wastewater effluents from antibiotic manufacturing units contain a substantial amount of antibiotics, leading to contamination of rivers and lakes, and the manufacturing process can also potentially contaminate environments through vaporisation or other solid waste disposal methods.

Current global discharge standards for antimicrobial manufacturing effluent do not include antibiotic residues and consensus around safe limits for antibiotic discharge has yet to emerge. Through the AMR Industry Alliance, the pharmaceutical industry is taking voluntary action to reduce the environmental impact from antimicrobial manufacturing.

In September 2018, the AMR Industry Alliance published science-driven, risk-based targets for discharge concentrations of antibiotics (PDF) - external link, which will be updated periodically as new reliable and robust data become available. The Access to Medicines Foundation's AMR Benchmark - external link - provides an independent evaluation of how pharmaceutical companies are halting the rise of drug resistance. The 2018 Benchmark includes environmental stewardship metrics and will be updated for release in 2020. However, significant knowledge gaps remain around the scale of contamination and the risk presented to the environment and humans to determine appropriate discharge targets.

In partnership between DBT and UKRI, this programme seeks to address:

  • Understanding of the extent of environmental antimicrobial pollution from antimicrobial manufacturing waste (wastewater, solid waste and atmospheric emissions), its pathways through environmental systems, and its role in driving emergence and circulation of AMR in the environment.

  • Development and validation of globally-relevant standardised methods and tools for detection of active antimicrobials and resistant bacteria in effluents and receiving environments.

  • Determining the impact on human and animal health from environmental exposure to high levels of antimicrobial pollution and antimicrobial-resistant bacteria and genes.

Projects must address at least one of the above research challenges with a view to research outputs contributing to ongoing efforts to develop international environmental standards to limit discharge of antimicrobials in pharmaceutical manufacturing effluent.


2020 - 2023

Can I apply for a grant?

Yes, the Announcement of Opportunity is active for this programme.


UKRI are providing £3·8 million at 80% full economic cost to eligible UK-based researchers. Matched funding in terms of research effort will be provided by DBT to eligible Indian researchers.

A workshop was held in New Delhi, India, on 15-16 May 2019. The workshop had three principal aims:

  • To understand the key challenges around AMR in the environment and antimicrobial manufacturing waste, and the relevant research landscapes in the UK and India.

  • For the funders to present an overview of the call aims and objectives and for participants to discuss and understand the scope.

  • To facilitate partnerships between the relevant UK and Indian research and innovation communities, and for researchers and industry representatives to network and begin to develop ideas to address the aims of the call.

A report on this workshop, and associated presentations and documents, can be downloaded below. Applicants are not required to have attended the workshop.

AMR India-UK Workshop Report (PDF, 578KB)

Annex A, Attendee list (PDF, 193KB)

Annex B, Introduction slides (PDF, 793KB) - Caroline Culshaw, NERC

Annex C, AMR mission slides (PDF, 1.9MB) - Sundeep Sarin, DBT

Annex D, WHO perspective slides (PDF, 1.6MB) - Manjeet Singh Saluja, WHO India

Annex E, Industry perspective slides (PDF, 3.1MB) - Jason Snape, AstraZeneca

Annex F, UK academic perspective slides (PDF, 5.2MB) - William Gaze, University of Exeter

Annex G, Indian academic perspective slides (PDF, 1.4MB) - Ravikrishnan Elangovan, IIT Delhi

Annex H, DBT-UKRI Scoping Report on AMR in India slides (PDF, 1.3MB) - Jyoti Joshi, CDDEP

Annex I, Antimicrobial manufacturing perspective (PDF, 1.8MB) - Suman Sharma, Centrient Pharmaceuticals

Annex J, Research landscape slides (PDF, 586KB) - Chandra Bhushan, CSE

Annex K, Call overview slides (PDF, 689KB)

Annex L, FAQ from the workshop (PDF, 93KB)