Last week, during a House of Commons Select Committee hearing, Professor Dame Sally Davies – the Government’s Chief Medical Officer – named two new government programmes intended to coordinate antimicrobial research. She also called for the creation of a collaborative research network to fight antimicrobial resistance.
Dame Sally said the Medical Research Council (MRC) was leading both programmes – which she called the ‘AMR Research Platform’ and the ‘cross-government Antimicrobial Research Funders Forum’.
She added that, ‘…the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, the Department of Health, and all the funders including the Wellcome Trust have started to attend the Funders Forum to debate what needs doing and share the work out.
‘We have a number of models of collaborations, networks, and I think out of the AMR Research Funders Forum will come not only decisions about what needs supporting, but following the competitions [for funding], how they [research institutions] will need to work together.’
Davies said she wanted to see a collaborative research network rather than a single national centre. ‘What we need to do is to build on the expertise that is in many different places – many different universities – and then get it coordinated.’
Although the structure of the proposed antimicrobial research network was yet to be decided, she cited past experience with a dementia scheme.
‘What we did was fund competitively a number of centres and say “if you win it, your research contracts will stipulate you are going to work together” – and they do. They have shared workshops; they move trainees between them, techniques between them, in order to make the sum of the parts greater than the separate bits.’
Dame Sally has spearheaded the UK government’s drive to tackle antimicrobial resistance since last year. She is responsible for the National Institute for Health Research, and also sits on the MRC’s board.
You can watch a video of the full hearing on this Parliament webpage.
You can read William’s report on the previous House of Commons Select Committee hearing on antimicrobial resistance here.