Newswise — PHILADELPHIA –More than $2 million in grants from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will allow a Penn Medicine team to further develop infrastructure and clinical capacity to address antimicrobial resistance and infectious diseases in Botswana. The grant will support Penn’s work, in collaboration with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, at multiple locations across the country through the Botswana-UPenn partnership, a 20-year collaboration between Penn’s Center for Global Health and the University of Botswana and the Botswana Ministry of Health and Wellness. While this grant primarily supports clinical work and capacity, the award also lays the groundwork to conduct more antimicrobial-resistance research in the years ahead.

Funding to Penn is part of a new $22 million, 50-plus country, and 28-organization total investment from the CDC to tackle antimicrobial resistance, the result of virus, bacteria, and fungi changes that leave microbes tougher to kill and harder to treat in infected patients. In order to curb antimicrobial resistance, clinicians need to track resistance mutations, monitor transmission, and better control infection spread in and out of healthcare settings.

“The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic emphasizes how interconnected we are, whether we are neighbors or on a continent an ocean away,” said Corrado Cancedda, MD, PhD, director of the Botswana-UPenn Partnership, an associate professor of Infectious Diseases, and the principal investigator (PI) of the CDC’s grant to Penn. “It’s vital to have clinicians and researchers around the world not only tracking emerging and mutating microbes but also establishing and managing infection control.”

“Thanks to the Penn Center for Global Health, Penn has an extremely well-established relationship on the ground in Botswana and with the University of Botswana,” said Ebbing Lautenbach, MD, MPH, MSCE, chief of Infectious Diseases at Penn and co-PI of the grant. “Botswana is a key place to continue developing strategies to address antimicrobial resistance. While there is a capable cohort of experts and researchers in Botswana experienced in managing and treating various infectious diseases, there remain considerable challenges to addressing healthcare-associated infection and antibiotic resistance. As such, developing and testing infection-control interventions are vital.”

Antimicrobial resistance, particularly antibiotic resistance, continues to be a growing problem worldwide due in part to overuse of antibiotics. More responsible antibiotic stewardship and strategies to prevent healthcare infections are just some of many interventions that can be employed to prevent further emergence of resistance.

Penn is among several organizations receiving a CDC antimicrobial-resistance grant including the University of Oxford, the World Health Organization, and Johns Hopkins University.