Five years ago, Uppsala University took a new step in the fight against accelerating antibiotic resistance with the establishment of the Uppsala Antibiotic Center. Now the centre has received a second round of funding with SEK 35 million from Uppsala University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). Fourteen new PhD projects will now begin at its research school.
Antibiotics save countless lives around the world every day and have become indispensable for everything from basic medical care to advanced medicine. But what if antibiotics stop working? The development of new, globally available antibiotics is not only a public health issue but also a critical factor for our globalised society.
Today we use antibiotics in many contexts in health care to treat various types of infections. Antibiotics have also become absolutely vital for successful cancer treatments, surgical procedures and treatment of premature births and burns. Extensive prescribing of antibiotics combined with their widespread use in animal husbandry and other factors have accelerated the development of resistance in bacteria, making multi-resistant bacteria more common.
Knowledge centre with a comprehensive view
In the spring of 2016, the interdisciplinary Uppsala Antibiotic Center (UAC) was established.
“An increasing number of antibiotics are losing their efficacy, we do not take proper care of those that remain and we essentially produce no new ones,” Dan I. Andersson, director of UAC and a professor of medical biochemistry at Uppsala University, said when the centre first opened. “This presents humanity with an acute problem without simple solutions. We can still reverse the trend, but that assumes both great resources and international collaboration. Because the set of problems is so complex, we need a joint scientific effort, so now we are bringing together the strengths of the University in a common front whose breadth is quite unique.”
The mission of the Uppsala Antibiotic Center is not only to be a knowledge centre for policymakers and other sectors of society, but also to focus on training a new generation of researchers with a comprehensive approach to antibiotic resistance.
During the first years after its inception, UAC has conducted research related to antibiotic resistance in biology, chemistry, economics, sociology, nanotechnology and public health and supported research projects in all three disciplinary research domains at Uppsala University.
UAC’s research school has also conducted an interdisciplinary degree programme for a group of doctoral students with a series of seminars, workshops, and symposiums. Now UAC is beginning a second round of projects within its research school, expanding horizons through new research, education and a newly established collaboration with the Swedish Agricultural University (SLU). A total of 14 new PhD projects will begin at UAC. The new projects will include the development of new antibiotics, economic models, pharmaceutical development, biology, novel antibiotic treatments and the dynamics of resistance in livestock.