UK-Japan partnership to tackle antimicrobial resistance

Bacteria in Petri dishes

Two experts in infectious disease have been selected to be policy fellows as part of a wider Japan-UK collaboration to tackle the growing crisis of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

AMR is a major threat to global health and was responsible for 1.27 million deaths in 2019 alone.

The fellowships, funded by The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, are named in honour of two leaders of the global effort to tackle the challenge of antimicrobial resistance: Dame Sally Davies, a former Chief Medical Officer of England and current UK Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance, and Mr Yasuhisa Shiozaki, a former Minister of Health of Japan.

They are part of a wider £1.5 ($1.9) million Japan-UK partnership, led by Professor Chris Dowson of the University of Warwick, which aims to develop new antibiotics and train the next generation of research leaders.

The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) and the National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies (GRIPS) are responsible for the partnership’s work on policy.

The new policy fellows

Dr Alicia Demirjian, Clinical Lead for Antimicrobial Resistance & Prescribing at the UK Health Security Agency, and Dr Nobuaki Matsunaga, Chief of the Division of Clinical Epidemiology at the AMR Clinical Reference Centre of the National Centre for Global Health and Medicine, will join a fellowship programme hosted by IDS and GRIPS.

Dr Demirjian said: “As a paediatric infectious diseases physician, I am highly aware of the threat of AMR to modern healthcare, and the need for a multidisciplinary solution to address this challenge. My aim is to align government, academic, and industry objectives to facilitate the discovery and development of new antimicrobial agents. I look forward to discussions with colleagues working across diverse settings in Japan and in the UK, and sharing lessons learned.”

The two fellows will work closely with the UK Health Security Agency and Japan’s National Centre for Global Health and Medicine, to build mutual understanding and new ways that academics, scientists, pharmaceutical companies, funding agencies, philanthropists and governments can work together to tackle this important global challenge.

Dr Matsunaga commented: “Through the fellowship, I will make specific policy recommendations on an ecosystem to accelerate the discovery and development of new antimicrobials and to deepen collaboration with the international research community, industry, academia, and government. To climb the big mountain, people should join hands more. Based on my clinical experience and public health background, I hope to become a bridge builder through this project.”

Diana Spencer, Senior Digital Content Editor, DDW

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