University of Dundee

Dundee to help deliver £2.85million PhD training programme to tackle antimicrobial resistance

03 Oct 2017

In response to the urgent and global threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), the Medical Research Foundation (MRF), the charitable foundation of the Medical Research Council, has invested £2.85million in delivering the UK’s first nationwide PhD training programme to focus on this major health challenge.

Antibiotics transformed healthcare in the 20th century and are still considered one of greatest medical achievements of the era. Today, we still rely on antibiotics to treat everything from minor cuts to life-threatening bacterial infections and to prevent infection after surgery. These drugs have drastically improved our quality of life and increased lifespan.

In the 21st century, antibiotic overuse and misuse has led to antibiotics rapidly becoming ineffective. Antimicrobial resistance, specifically antibiotic resistance, now poses a global threat to human life. We need urgent action to halt resistance and to accelerate new treatments for bacterial infection. The MRF’s Antimicrobial Resistance PhD Training Programme has been designed in response. 

The PhD training programme leadership comprises 16 academics from 13 universities and research institutes, including the University of Dundee. The programme will bring together PhD students from all academic disciplines to explore new ways of tackling the threat to human life posed by AMR.

Dr Charis Marwick, Clinical Senior Lecturer in Population Health and Consultant Physician in Infectious Diseases, is leading the University of Dundee’s contribution to the programme. 

She said, “We must address an urgent fight against antimicrobial resistance, which is one of the most serious challenges facing current and future generations. With this programme we are looking to equip the next generation of researchers with the multidisciplinary research skills required to tackle this major health problem.”

The MRF’s Programme will provide four-year PhD funding for 18 students in the first cohort, with the studentships being distributed across the participating universities. In addition, training courses and cohort building/networking events will be funded to benefit up to 200 PhD students studying AMR-related problems from across the UK. 

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 Nicholas Lemoine, the Medical Research Foundation’s Chair, 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.