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The University of Southampton
Global Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention

NAMRIP Launch Conference Success

Published: 15 December 2015
sally davies
CMO Dame Sally Davies at NAMRIP's AMR exhibition

could 3D printing
Could 3D printing help prevent animal infections?

On Monday 14 December 2015, the University of Southampton's Network for AntiMicrobial Resistance and Infection Prevention (NAMRIP) held its launch conference.  Around 170 scientists, medics, engineers, legal experts, geographers and a range of other experts from the University and the General Hospital, met with people from industry, Research Councils, Government labs, and 6th form colleges to discuss how to slow down the development of drug resistant microbes (‘superbugs'), and combat them when they occur. By 2050, without such efforts, this problem will result in global catastrophe; causing more deaths than cancer; and cost the world economy more money than the global economy is currently worth.

The conference was sponsored by EPSRC

Full sponsorship from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) through its ‘Bridging the Gap’ programme, allowed everyone to participate and ensured an excellent turnout. Two highlights of the meeting were outstanding plenary lectures by UK Government Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies and Professor Guy Poppy, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Food Standards Agency, which were extremely well received by the audience. 17 other speakers from the University and University of Southampton Hospital NHS Trust also gave presentations. In anticipation of an audience with a very broad range of interests, NAMRIP had conducted training sessions in advance to assist the speakers in communicating their messages clearly to such an audience, without unexplained jargon. Several of the speakers had managed to find time to attend. Representatives of the funding bodies also gave presentations under the general heading of ‘AMR, policy and the funding context’: these included Dr Helen Lambert (University of Bristol and ESRC AMR Champion), Ruth Kelly (Medical Research Council), Dr Katherine Grace (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, DEFRA) and Dr Victoria Marlow (EPSRC), and their talks were followed by a Q&A chaired by Professor Guy Poppy. Another panel saw Southampton academics, Professor Robert Eason (Physical Sciences and Engineering); Professor Mandy Fader (Health Sciences); Professor Robert Read (Medicine); Dr Emma Roe (Social, Human and Mathematical Sciences) and Dr A.M. Viens (Business, Law & Art),  discussing our interdisciplinary ways of tackling AMR research in University of Southampton faculties. Tim Leighton chaired the Q&A which followed.

Exciting exhibits captured attention

Many attendees expressed appreciation for the exhibition, which featured a host of displays showing inventions or research projects. These included: a project using ultrasound to capture microbes from flow to aid diagnosis; a system to produce slips of paper, laser printed with tiny channels to hold compounds, so that, when dipped in urine, they will be able to identify which microbes are present; using simple sugars (perhaps in a nasal aerosol spray) to protect again bacterial infection; and designing  novel 3D structures to help study drug-resistant tuberculosis to better evaluate infection and treatments. Attendees had the chance to use MicroGuide, an app designed in Southampton in partnership with industry that many doctors have on their phone to improve their prescribing of antibiotics. They were able to see the StarStream in action, demonstrating its extraordinary use as an ultrasonically enhanced cold water cleaning device. Other displays showed new developments in catheters to reduce urinary tract infection; and the use of Cognitive Computing to target education and R&D in AMR. In the real world, lame dairy cows can be fitted with special 'shoes' to aid recovery from foot infections without the need to use antibiotics; and conference-goers could see a version of such shoes for cows being made in real time by a 3D printer - part of a project aiming to bring the issue of animal husbandry and antimicrobial resistance into a wider consciousness. Another interactive display showed how changing attitudes and behaviour (e.g. to hand washing) can combat AMR and this was complemented by an exhibit on the use of the bearberry plant to provide a traditional herbal remedy which clinical trial researchers hope will prove as effective as taking an antibiotic. The largest item was a marble-maze stem cell mountain, designed by Jon Dawson and built by Ben Ward and the Winchester Science Fair Production Team.

Everyone has a part to play in this, whether it be the researchers producing new inventions to diagnose and treat infections, or the GP and patient who must be sensible when having the discussion about when and if antibiotics are prescribed. We cannot go on as we are, or we face not only a collapse in healthcare, but also a catastrophe in food production: 70% of antibiotics that are consumed in the USA are used rearing animals for food

Professor Tim Leighton FREng, FRS - Chair of NAMRIP

Notes for editors

NAMRIP is funded by the University of Southampton and benefits hugely from £868,704.00 of funding from EPSRC's Network for Antimicrobial Action 'Bridging the Gap' call (EP/M027260/1).

Tim Leighton expressed his thanks , on behalf of the conference, to a number of individuals for the hard work they put in to make this conference a success, including:-

Frances Clarke (Interdisciplinary Research Coordinator for NAMRIP) and Yvonne Richardson (NAMRA Network Manager) - Conference Organization

Craig Dolder and Nikhil Mistry - Exhibition and Public Engagement

Claire Chapman and Luke Goater - Administrative support

Nikhil Mistry, Mengyang Zhu, Freya Malcher and Iliad - Video, filming and photography

LifeLab and Dr Steve Dorney - Preparation

Tom Secker and Liam Goodes - Logistics assistance

University of Southampton Conference Office - Catering

And All the exhibitors and speakers

He noted with thanks the contribution made by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), whose funding enabled us to foster networking and collaborations between Engineering and Physical Science (EPS) researchers and non- Engineering and Physical Science (non-EPS) researchers; and develop activities for public engagement on AMR through such initiatives as hosting this conference through its Network for Antimicrobial Action 'Bridging the Gap' award EP/M027260/1 (NAMRA). He observed that this grant has also enabled NAMRIP to award over £150,000 to 11 projects in the first two rounds of pump priming calls.

Professor Leighton noted other support that enables NAMRIP to thrive, notably the initial grant and administrative support from the University of Southampton via its University Strategic Research Group funding.

He also noted with thanks:

  • Funding for specific projects that come under the NAMRIP umbrella, awarded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the EU (via its COST Action programme)
  • The award of funds from The University of Southampton’s Public Engagement with Research unit (PERu) Development Fund, which gave additional support to the public engagement aspects of the conference.

The full conference programme details are HERE

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