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Philanthropy Report 2020/21

Addressing the challenge of antimicrobial resistance


Oxford is establishing the Ineos–Oxford Institute for AMR Research.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the greatest challenges facing the world. It is currently estimated that 1.5 million excess deaths each year are caused by AMR. Startlingly, this number could increase to 10 million by 2050.

Fuelled by the misuse and overuse of antibiotics in both human populations and agriculture, bacteria are continuing to develop resistance to existing treatments. Furthermore, in recent years, work to discover new drugs in this field has not attracted sufficient attention or funding, reflected in the fact that no new antibiotics have been developed since the 1980s.

Thanks to a £100 million gift from INEOS, the issue of AMR has been put firmly back into the spotlight. With this support, Oxford is establishing the Ineos–Oxford Institute for AMR Research to tackle this growing threat. Recognising that the majority of global antibiotic consumption by volume takes place in agriculture, one of the key focuses for the institute will be designing novel antimicrobials specifically for animals. In addition, work will take place exploring new drugs for humans.

The institute will partner with other international leaders in the field of AMR to raise awareness and promote responsible use of antimicrobial drugs. Alongside contributing to research on the type and extent of drug resistant microbes, the institute will also attract and train the brightest early-career researchers to facilitate the growth of knowledge in this crucial area of study.

Tim Walsh, Professor of Medical Microbiology at Oxford, says: ‘Just as the discovery of penicillin and subsequent antibiotics transformed modern medicine, the rapid and relentless growth of antimicrobial resistance poses one of the most serious threats to human life worldwide. Modern agriculture and healthcare are both heavily reliant on antibiotics, which is why it is vital to address this issue as a humanitarian emergency and to bring together national and international expertise across scientific disciplines to develop new drugs and policies to tackle this global problem.’


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