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A major conference in Berlin today included the announcement of a new research project focused on tackling antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The project is part of a collaboration between researchers at the Big Data Institute and the Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, both of the University of Oxford, and researchers at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation  at the University of Washington.

The Wellcome Trust estimate that at least 700,000 people per year are dying from drug-resistant infections. This number is predicted to rise to 10 million per year by 2050 if we don’t act now.

The UK Government has created the Fleming Fund to improve laboratory capacity and diagnosis as well as data and surveillance of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) through a ‘One Health’ approach.

The project, The Global Burden of Disease: AMR,  will be based at the University of Oxford and is one of the UK Department of Health’s Fleming Fund grants. Its purpose is to collect and synthesise data on the burden of disease associated with AMR and ensure that this data is included in the Global Burden of Disease study (GBD). Ultimately this will increase global awareness and drive support for strategies that can reduce AMR/DRI.

The partnership between Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and the University of Oxford (funded by the Fleming Fund, the Wellcome Trust, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), will bring together GBD expertise in developing robust methods for creating estimates from diverse data sources. These new methods will assess the total impact of resistance, in order to better inform health policies and to prioritise resources. 

UK Minister for Public Health and Primary Care, Steve Brine said: “This ground-breaking collaboration will enable us to better understand the extent of death and disease that AMR is causing globally and will guide future efforts and allocation of resources around the world.”

Professor Gil McVean, Director of the Big Data Institute, University of Oxford, said: “Big Data approaches can play a key role in mapping and understanding the critical and growing problem of drug resistant infection at a global scale.  We are excited to be able to bring our expertise in data engineering, analytical innovation and software development to help meet the challenge.”

Associate Professor Direk Limmathurotsakul, Mahidol-Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Bangkok, Thailand and Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, University of Oxford, UK, said: “AMR is a big and growing problem in low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Nonetheless, data is currently scarce. The Oxford Tropical Network has long established international research units in Thailand, Vietnam and Kenya and will be key partners in evaluating the impact of AMR on health in LMICs together with their local partners and policy makers.”

The Call to Action event in Berlin on October 12 and 13 is organised by the Wellcome Trust, in partnership with the UK, Thai and Ghanaian Governments and the United Nations Foundation.