The India-UK Strategic Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Research held their second meeting in New Delhi on 7th November 2017 to discuss mutual research priorities to tackle AMR, an increasingly serious global threat. They also assessed progress made by the India-UK partnership in AMR, since its launch last November by the Indian Minister for Science & Technology, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and Minister of Earth Sciences, Dr Harsh Vardhan and the UK Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Jo Johnson.
The India-UK AMR collaboration is led by India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the UK Research Councils. Both DBT and RCUK are nodal agencies coordinating this initiative with other research funding partners in India like the Department of Science and Technology, Indian Council of Social Science Research, Indian Council of Medical Research, Indian Council of Agricultural Research and the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
The strategic group commended the progress, which has since its first meeting in November 2016, successfully commissioned a mapping report on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Research in India, which was released by Indian Minister of State for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences Shri Y S Chowdary and the UK Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Jo Johnson at an event in New Delhi last week. Also present at this event were Sir Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Nobel laureate and President of the Royal Society, Professor K VijayRaghavan, Secretary DBT and Sir Dominic Asquith KCMG, British High Commissioner to India.
Both Ministers welcomed the joint report and the DBT – RCUK partnership addressing AMR. The report identifies gaps in our understanding, especially in countries with high disease burdens, and highlights that we can use multi-disciplinary research to fill key areas of potential action including the environment, industrial waste, farming practise, and how people use and understand valuable antibiotic drugs.
The strategic group also welcomed AMR research experts from India and the United Kingdom who are participating in an India-UK sandpit-style workshop this week to develop outline proposals for AMR research. This workshop is organised by DBT and RCUK from 7th to 10th November in Delhi NCR, and will serve as a platform to build interdisciplinary research teams and joint outline proposals for research into various aspects of AMR.
Up to £13 million joint funding, under the Newton Bhabha Fund, will be utilised on projects funded as a result of this workshop.
Professor K. VijayRaghavan, Secretary, DBT said: “The challenge AMR poses is enormous from India’s perspective because it revolves not only around the use of antibiotics, but also around enforcement, industrial waste and use of antibiotics in the livestock industry, all of which, in turn, affects the food chain and public water supply, thereby causing major health risks. Our research efforts are addressing the detection, diagnosis and prevalence of AMR. Our international partnerships are crucial to help scale up these efforts.”
Professor Stuart Taberner, Director of International and Interdisciplinary Research, RCUK, said: “Global challenges such as AMR can be addressed by strong, collaborative research partnerships, such as the one India and UK are demonstrating through various initiatives in AMR. While the joint mapping report identifies gaps in our understanding, I am hopeful that some of proposals that will be developed at the interactive workshop will help address these gaps.”