Congratulations to Sankalp Arya: International Research Collaboration Award

Congratulations to Sankalp who has received a £2300 International Research Collaboration Award from the University of Nottingham. Sankalp will spend two months (September and October) in Barth Smets’s laboratory at the Technical University of Denmark. This is a really fantastic opportunity for Sankalp to work in one of the leading environmental microbiology groups in the world. His work will focus on developing the iDynomics platform for individual based modelling of microbial interactions to model antimicrobial resistance. Well done Sankalp! And I look forward to visiting Barth’s lab too as part of the project.

 

Nearly new publication: Metal Resistance and Its Association With Antibiotic Resistance. Advances in Microbial Physiology

Last month the review that Sankalp and I contributed to was published on line by Advances in Microbial Physiology. This review was led by Jon Hobman, with considerable writing by Chandan Pal. It is a real honour to have co-authored with the amazing Joakim Larsson. My own contribution was small: Sankalp contributed some review material on modelling, and I got stuck in with Joakim and Jon in the editing phase to ensure we had a coherent story. Overall, this is a very nice and timely review, and we have had a lot of interest in it already. Citation and abstract:

Pal C, Asiani K, Arya S, Rensing C, Stekel DJ, Larsson DGJ and Hobman JL 2017. Metal Resistance and Its Association With Antibiotic Resistance. Advances in Microbial Physiology. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/bs.ampbs.2017.02.001.

Abstract

Antibiotic resistance is recognised as a major global threat to public health by the World Health Organization. Currently, several hundred thousand deaths yearly can be attributed to infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The major driver for the development of antibiotic resistance is considered to be the use, misuse and overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals. Nonantibiotic compounds, such as antibacterial biocides and metals, may also contribute to the promotion of antibiotic resistance through co-selection. This may occur when resistance genes to both antibiotics and metals/biocides are co-located together in the same cell (co-resistance), or a single resistance mechanism (e.g. an efflux pump) confers resistance to both antibiotics and biocides/metals (cross-resistance), leading to co-selection of bacterial strains, or mobile genetic elements that they carry. Here, we review antimicrobial metal resistance in the context of the antibiotic resistance problem, discuss co-selection, and highlight critical knowledge gaps in our understanding.

On AMR Panel with Lord Jim O’Neill at University of Nottingham Chancellor’s Lecture

Last night I had the enormous privilege of being on a panel following Lord Jim O’Neill’s lecture on AMR as part of the University of Nottingham’s Chancellor’s Lecture series.

oneillpanel

It was a real coup for the university to have Jim O’Neill speak. It was a great event – well attended by alumni and many other’s. The lecture was brilliant: O’Neill is a very engaging speaker and spoke with confidence and passion on the findings of his report. He mainly focussed on the ten point plan:

 

10-point-plan_white

It was especially interesting seeing AMR from the perspective of an economist: not just in quantifying the problem in monetary terms (his argument that $40B spend will save $100T costs is compelling) but also how he breaks down the solutions into ‘supply’ and ‘demand’ side solutions and especially his emphasis on the importance of reducing demand for antibiotics through 6 of his points. (I’m not sure where our emphasis on waste management fits into that – but that is another matter – and actually having an economist (Steve Ramsden) on our project also helps framing it).

Professor Liz Sockett kindly asked me to serve on the panel (along side Dr Mat Diggle from EmPath) – this was a new experience for me – I was a little nervous – but the questions were good and interesting. The first couple of questions were more clinically focussed and answered by Liz and Mat. A question came up about how we prevent rapid spread of resistance to any new antibiotics we might discover. Mat gave a good answer from a clinical perspective, and I was able to add that there would need to be very wise use (if at all) of any new clinically important antibiotics in veterinary use. (To be fair, that point is  made in the O’Neill report anyway!) And then got a question direct to me about agricultural waste  management practises in developing countries. This was a nice one – as I have recently visited China and then had visitors from South Africa. So I was able to speak about the challenges of AMR from pig farming in China – the Chinese government are very committed to environmental research and China has a very well-funded research programme; South Africa is also very interesting because there is a mix of modern farming where the challenge of reducing antibiotic use is similar to in the UK, and then traditional subsistence farming, where nutrition is the biggest challenge, and the antibiotic challenge is more about access to antibiotics rather than use reduction.

After the talk, many interesting people came to speak with me, which was really nice, while Professor Christine Dodd looked after our stand and she also received many questions.

Official photographs will follow. The photograph at the top is thanks to Adam Roberts (from his twitter feed).

 

 

 

 

Research Associate/Fellow in Science and Technology Studies (STS)

We are now advertising the next postdoctoral job for the EVAL-FARMS project. This is a part time role (3 days/week) for three years.

Research Associate/Fellow in Science and Technology Studies (STS)

Sociology & Social Policy

Location:  Sutton Bonington
Salary:  £26,052 to £38,183 per annum, pro rata depending on skills and experience (minimum £29301 with relevant PhD). Salary progression beyond this scale is subject to performance
Closing Date:  Friday 02 December 2016
Reference:  SOC323516

We are seeking an excellent researcher in Science and Technology Studies.

The post-holder will conduct qualitative ethnographic work and interviews on social and cultural aspects of knowledge on antimicrobial resistance in laboratory and farm settings, with the University of Nottingham, UK as the main focus.

Applicants must have a PhD (or be near to completion)  in science and technology studies (STS), human geography or related field, including postgraduate training in social science research methods, or have equivalent relevant knowledge, skills and experience. You must be able to engage with a wide range of stakeholders, including scientists and farmers, as you would be part of a highly multidisciplinary team. Excellent oral and written English language skills are essential. Applicants must be highly motivated, ambitious and have a proven track record of timely research publications (from PhD or beyond).

The post is funded by the NERC EVAL-FARMS project (Evaluating the Threat of Antimicrobial Resistance in Agricultural Manures and Slurries), and will be jointly supervised by the School of Sociology and Social Policy (Institute for Science and Society/ISS) and the School of Geography.

The Associate/Fellow will be primarily located in the School of Biosciences and expect to be physically present on the Sutton Bonington campus, where the scientific work in EVAL-FARMS will be carried out. The fellow will spend roughly a third of their time on University Park where the Schools of Sociology and Social Policy, and of Geography are located.

 

Informal enquiries may be addressed to Sujatha Raman tel: 0115 846 7039 or email Sujatha.raman@nottingham.ac.uk. Please note that applications sent directly to this email address will not be accepted.

Research Technician (2 Posts – 1 Full-time & 1 Part-time)

We are now recruiting for two technician positions for the EVAL-FARMS project.

Reference
SCI307616
Closing Date
Friday, 28th October 2016
Job Type
Technical Services
Department
School of Biosciences – Technical Services
Salary
£22249 to £26537 per annum (pro rata if applicable), depending on skills and experience. Salary progression beyond this scale is subject to performance

Applications are invited for the above full-time and part-time posts which are based within the School of Biosciences at the Sutton Bonington Campus.

The post is to provide technical support on a NERC funded research project “Evaluating the Threat of Antimicrobial Resistance in Agricultural Manures and Slurries”.

The role holder will assist with the collection of soil & slurry samples & processing the samples for microbiological, genomic, wet chemistry & water quality indicators and will require working off-site.

Duties will include:

  • Processing samples for further analysis by LC-MS, ICP/AAS, PCR and microbiological analysis and culture,general microbiological analysis & culture at ACDP 2,assessing water quality indicators using UV vis spectrophotometer
  • Ensuring stocks & equipment in own areas of responsibility are maintained & available for use.
  • Maintaining a safe working environment in accordance with statutory & University Health & Safety procedures.

Full details can be found in the job description.

Candidates must have a HNC in a relevant subject or equivalent qualifications plus considerable relevant technical/scientific experience OR substantial work experience in a relevant technical or scientific role.

Candidates should have experience of working with ACDP 2 pathogens and proven technical and/or experimental expertise in techniques for water quality analysis including filtration, COD analysis, molecular biology & PCR technologies.

These posts are available as soon as possible on a fixed-term contract for a period of 15 months.

Informal enquiries may be addressed to: Dov Stekel tel: 0115 9516294 Or email dov.stekel@nottingham.ac.uk. Please note that applications sent directly to this email address will not be accepted.

The University of Nottingham is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applications from all sections of the community.

Modelling the Spread of Antimicrobial Resistance in the Environment in China

We are delighted to have been awarded a small grant of £25k from an internal distribution of EPSRC Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) to the University of Nottingham. We will be working with Professor Yong-guan Zhu from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xiamen, to build statistical models for the spread of AMR genes and organisms in the Chinese environment. The money will find a talented post-doc, Laurence Shaw, to join our lab for 6 months from later this year. Young-guan and colleagues have carried out extensive and impressive AMR surveillance work so this is a very exciting opportunity. We are very much looking forward to working with Yong-guan and Laurence on this project.

Research projects gain value from external advisory boards

On Monday we had our first External Advisory Board meeting for our EVAL-FARMS AMR project. We have a good number of external advisors, representing industrial, policy and academic stake-holders. It is also the first time I have led a project with an external board. My reactions are:

  1. We had a very successful and enjoyable event. Our external advisors are, of course, lovely, interesting, intelligent and successful people from a wide range of backgrounds, so it was a pleasure to spend time with them.
  2. We now have a broad perspective of input into our project. We are no longer a group of academics talking to each other – we are now a group of academics also in conversation with the broader outside world – giving real context for our work and its impact to other sectors – and helping us to ensure appropriate outputs, messages and impact into their sectors.
  3. We have a group of people who will hold us to account. We need to stay on track and stay relevant!
  4. When I look back on previously held research funding, especially the Lux and Biolog projects, I can see now how much an external board would have helped us to run the projects better. I wish we had had them!
  5. In future, I will look towards having external boards for all research projects. EVAL-FARMS is especially applied and outward facing, so it makes sense to have many non-academic partners. But even a project which is entirely fundamental science would benefit from an external board of academic and other beneficiaries.
  6. We look forward to our next advisory board meeting in September 2017, as well as interactions with members of our board before then.