Newswise — AMES, Iowa – The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges this morning (July 26) announced Iowa State University will lead a national institute addressing a global public health concern: antimicrobial resistance.

Each year in the U.S., at least 2 million people become infected with bacteria resistant to antibiotics, and 23,000 people die as a direct result of these infections. Many more die from other conditions complicated by an antibiotic-resistant infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These drug-resistant “superbugs” also harm the ecosystem and cost multibillions annually in medical costs and economic losses.

Iowa State will be home to the new Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education, aimed at improving health for people, animals and the environment. The institute stems from recommendations by a joint AAVMC/APLU task force, which authored a 2015 report outlining an array of research and education initiatives to address antimicrobial resistance. The institute will help coordinate and implement those recommendations at universities and veterinary medical colleges across the country.

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Institute builds on existing partnership

Iowa State and its partners began to address some of these same problems three years ago through the Antimicrobial Resistance Consortium, a research initiative that has involved nearly every ISU college, the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the University of Nebraska-LincolnUniversity of Nebraska Medical Center, the University of IowaMayo Clinic and a team of more than 100 researchers, educators, clinicians and extension personnel.

Iowa State will provide office space and IT support for the institute, which will be jointly funded by ISU and the University of Nebraska at $525,000 per year for three years ($1.575 million total investment).

“Antimicrobial resistance touches each of us in our daily lives. This new institute provides a great resource for the entire country as we work to build strong, collaborative research and educational programs to mitigate this risk,” said Paul Plummer, associate professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine at Iowa State. Plummer directed the AMR Consortium and will serve as executive director of the Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education.

“Iowa State is honored to be selected for this critically important institute devoted to tackling antimicrobial resistance through an integrative, One Health approach,” said Iowa State University Vice President for Research Sarah Nusser. “We are grateful to our partner organizations throughout the Midwest for their collaboration in developing the Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education proposal, and we look forward to building new partnerships across the country as the institute grows to form a national consortium.”

Key leadership 

Along with Plummer, institute leadership will include:

  • Rodney Moxley, Charles Bessey Professor of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Nebraska
  • Kenneth Bayles, vice chancellor of basic research and professor of pathology and microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Christine Petersen, associate professor and director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Iowa. Petersen will coordinate involvement of participants from the University of Iowa College of Public Health and College of Medicine.
  • Robin Patel, chair of the Division of Clinical Microbiology, director of the Bacteriology Laboratory, and director of the Infectious Diseases Research Laboratory, Mayo Clinic.

The partners’ proposal for the institute was selected from among nine submitted by major universities from throughout the nation.