Mobilizing in the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR), researchers from the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) and McGill University have launched a new intensive care unit platform for infection research, with scientific seminars and symposia, funding programs and much more.
A major threat to human health across the globe, AMR occurs when bacteria and other microbes causing illness become resistant to antimicrobial drugs, such as antibiotics. Once-treatable infections could become untreatable, or require more toxic “last-resort” drugs. Experts estimate that the rise in AMR, if unchecked, could threaten the lives of 10 million people worldwide every year and cost up to $100 trillion by 2050.
The McGill Antimicrobial Resistance Centre (AMR Centre) is mobilizing researchers in the fight against AMR. A joint effort between McGill University and the RI-MUHC, the AMR Centre brings together a diverse scientific community that spans multiple faculties, campuses and affiliated research institutes, with expertise across the biomedical, engineering, and animal, natural and social sciences domains.
“Our goal is to harness the expertise and creativity of our researchers to address AMR challenges and priorities through innovation and interdisciplinary research,” says founder and director Dao Nguyen, MD, M.Sc., a clinician-scientist in the Translational Research in Respiratory Diseases Program at the RI-MUHC. “We strive to foster collaborations, accelerate innovations and enhance training opportunities.”
Officially launched in October 2021, the virtual AMR Centre is a part of the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4) and based at the Glen site of the RI‑MUHC. It is led by associate directors Albert Berghuis, PhD, chair of the Department of Biochemistry at McGill University, and Makeda Semret, MD, M.Sc., a clinician-researcher in the Infectious Diseases and Immunity in Global Health Program at the RI-MUHC and the lead of the MUHC’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Program. The centre, and many of its members, are also at the heart of an initiative to build a new province-wide AMR network under Dr. Nguyen’s lead.
The AMR Centre aims to advance research within three main themes: diagnostics, surveillance and prevention strategies, and therapeutics. The diagnostic theme focuses on developing new technologies for diagnosis and surveillance of infectious disease. Surveillance and prevention methods track and respond to emerging AMR threats in hospitals, farms and wastewater, while the therapeutics theme addresses the need for continuous discovery and development of new therapies to address the growing threat of drug-resistant infection. The MUHC Foundation, as part of the Dream Big fundraising campaign, has already raised over $2.8M to support the research and activities of the AMR Centre, including a $2M donation from Power Corporation.
Almost no new classes of antibiotics have reached the market since the 1990s, and the antibiotic discovery pipeline is dry. If we don’t act now, we could be living in a post-antibiotic world. — Dao Nguyen, MD, M.Sc.
“Almost no new classes of antibiotics have reached the market since the 1990s, and the antibiotic discovery pipeline is dry,” says Dr. Nguyen. “If we don’t act now, we could be living in a post-antibiotic world. At the AMR Centre, our goal is to discover innovative ways to prevent, diagnose and treat infections in order to curb the rise of AMR.”
“Right now, my role is to reach out to other students that are doing AMR work and to interview them to find out what kind of work they’re doing and share that with other students and the general public,” says Eszter Farkas, a PhD student in Dr. Nguyen’s lab and one of the five members of the Student Outreach Team. “The goal is to help people understand how AMR research translates from undergrads or grad students doing this work and how it progresses into a larger idea.”
The AMR Centre runs a number of events open to the research community, including a series of scientific talks and panel discussions called the AMR Seminar and Social series. The centre’s annual symposium will be held on May 25, 2023.
Learn more about the AMR Centre.