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Antibiotic pills

Overuse and misuse has led to antibiotics rapidly becoming ineffective

£2.85m for first PhD programme to tackle antimicrobial resistance

The Medical Research Foundation (MRF) is investing £2.85m to create a PhD programme that will train new scientists to explore ways to tackle antimicrobial resistance, one of the greatest emerging threats to human health. 

The first intake of the Antimicrobial Resistance PhD Training Programme will fully fund 18 students for four years at 16 universities across the UK, including the University of Exeter.

Antibiotics transformed healthcare in the 20th Century and are still considered one of greatest medical achievements of the era.

Today, we rely on antibiotics to treat everything from minor cuts to life-threatening bacterial infections and to prevent infection after surgery.

In the 21st Century, antibiotic overuse and misuse has led to antibiotics rapidly becoming ineffective, and urgent action is needed to halt resistance and accelerate new treatments for bacterial infection.

The PhD training programme has been designed in response to these issues. 

“The fight against antimicrobial resistance is serious, life-threatening and global and it is a fight we must win. As academic lead for the Medical Research Foundation’s national PhD Training Programme, I look forward to leading the next generation of researchers to develop the multidisciplinary research skills required to tackle this major health problem,” says Dr Matthew Avison, of the University of Bristol.

Working with the Medical Research Council, the MRF spotted a gap in funding for PhD studentships in antimicrobial resistance research – right now there are few emerging researchers trained in the multidisciplinary approach required to tackle the antimicrobial resistance problem.

MRF’s PhD programme is designed to help build a strong, active network of new researchers to approach this global challenge in innovative ways. 

Professor Henry Buller, of the University of Exeter, said: “This is a great opportunity for us at Exeter to link innovative postgraduate training to the collaborative research we are doing across a number of disciplines and with external partners on ways to achieve more sustainable antibiotic use.

“Not only will we host new MRF-funded PhD students at Exeter, but we will also be contributing to the wider multidisciplinary network of MRF-funded postgraduate training workshops and events across the country."

Professor Nicholas Lemoine, chair of the MRF, said: “The Medical Research Foundation is delighted to fund the UK’s only national PhD Training Programme in antimicrobial resistance research.

“We believe the programme will help to respond to the global health challenge that is antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance and drug resistant infections and strengthen the UK’s research capacity overall.”

The Medical Research Foundation will continue to raise money with the aim of funding two further cohorts of antimicrobial resistance PhD students in the future.

To find out more, use #ExeterAMR on Twitter and visit the Exeter AMR webpages.

Date: 15 September 2017