Antimicrobial Resistance

Antimicrobial Resistance

Tackling the challenge of antimicrobial resistance, by developing and testing interventions to stop, or at the very least slow down, rates of resistance.

Antimicrobials have transformed human health and saved millions of lives. However their widespread use (and misuse) has led to the emergence of antimicrobial resistance that poses a potentially catastrophic threat to public health. A report from the UK government projects that antimicrobial-resistant infections could lead to at least 10 million additional deaths per year and cost the global economy up to US$100 trillion by 2050. The Australian government devised its first National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy recommending urgent interdisciplinary research in this area.

Wollongong Antimicrobial Resistance Research Alliance (WARRA)

The Wollongong Antimicrobial Resistance Research Alliance (WARRA) aims to tackle the challenge of antimicrobial resistance, by developing and testing interventions to stop, or at the very least slow down, rates of resistance.

The WARRA initiative is a collaboration between Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District, NSW Health Pathology, Southern IML Pathology, Centre for Health Research Illawarra Shoalhaven Population, Colleagues at the University of Wollongong and other universities.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) occurs when microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites become resistant to medications that are used to kill them, such as antibiotics, making them ineffective. Whilst AMR occurs naturally to a degree, improper use of antibiotics has accelerated rates of resistance and the goal of WARRA is to build a platform to support the Illawarra Shoalhaven region to become a testbed for health interventions.

The team will build a large longitudinal study across the Illawarra and Shoalhaven region which looks at all of the factors (food, animals, waste, genetics, microbiome etc) that are drivers for antimicrobial resistance and test interventions.

This project explores UOW's many links, as a regional University, to local and regional healthcare providers, educational centres and other organisations, and a broad pool of researchers in the medical, life, educational, and social sciences. It investigates how we can harness expertise on campus and regionally, to establish a centre for integrative research and policy on antimicrobial resistance. 

Antimicrobial Resistance Summit

Nearly 75 people with their own unique expertise in all aspects of antimicrobial resistance met in Wollongong on June 26. This summit brought together research scientists, health practitioners, policy makers, engineers, business leaders, educators and many others. Followed by a second day of intensive discussion with a smaller group of experts, strategies were defined on how to integrate the disciplines and launch a collective effort to tackle this global problem.

The following discipline experts presented their thoughts:

  • Mr Curtis Gregory, South Eastern Sydney and Illawarra Area Health Service (Regional Director of Public Health)
  • Dr Kate Clezy, Prince of Wales Hospital (Hospital-based infections)
  • Assoc Prof Peter Siminski, University of Wollongong (Health Economics)
  • Mr Stuart Bond, SEALS South for ISLHD (Antimicrobial stewardship amongst Pharmacists)
  • Dr Stephen Page, Advanced Veterinary Therapeutics (Antibiotics use in veterinary context)
  • Dr Mohammad Katouli, University of the Sunshine Coast (Antibiotics in wastewater)
  • Dr Peter Newton, SEALS South for ISLHD (Pathology Microbiologist)
  • Dr Mark Blaskovich, University of Queensland (Drug development)
  • Colin Denver, SpeeDx Pty Ltd (Biotech industry - diagnostics development)
  • Prof Nam-Trung Nguyen, Griffith University (Microfluidics diagnostics development)
  • Dr Os Cotta, University of Queensland (NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in AMR - ‘REDUCE’)
  • Assoc Prof Barbara Mullan, Curtin University (Psychology, Behavioral Medicine)
  • Ms Liesl McCoy, National Prescription Services (Prescription Policies)
  • Dr. Scott Winch, University of Wollongong (Indigenous Health)

More details about the outcome of this summit will be published when they become available.

Antimicrobial Resistance Public Lecture

A public lecture and Q&A panel entitled "Turning back the tide of Antibiotic Resistance: from Stalin's cure to precision medicine” was held at UOW on Monday 26 June, 2017 by one of Australia’s most prominent experts in antimicrobial resistance.

Professor Jon Iredell from the University of Sydney and Westmead Hospital, and prolific microbiology researcher discussed the dangers of antibiotic resistance and how we as society need to respond.

As part of UOW’s interdisciplinary approach to addressing the global issue of antimicrobial resistance, a panel of leading experts also fielded questions after the lecture.  

Public Lecture

The Team

The multi-faceted nature of the problem of antimicrobial resistance requires a team of researchers from a spectrum of disciplines and stakeholders. This interdisciplinary research projects includes the following experts:

Dist. Prof. Antoine van Oijen – Biophysical methods development to study microbial genomic processes and antibiotic-resistance pathways (Chemistry, SMAH)

Prof. Jenny Beck  – Interrogation of biomolecular interactions, using mass spectrometry (Chemistry, SMAH)

Emer. Professor John Bremner – Organic and medicinal chemistry; design and development of new antibacterials (Chemistry, SMAH)

A/Prof. Mitch Byrne – Medication and treatment adherence (Psychology, ASSH)

Dr. Elisabeth Duursma – Early childhood education, literacy in low income families (Education, ASSH)

Prof. Xu-Feng Huang – Detection of microbiota associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes (Medicine, SMAH)

Ms. Carley Jans – Medication administration, medication adherence and patient engagement (Nursing, SMAH)

A/Prof. Dianne Jolley – Environmental chemistry, contaminants in marine systems (Chemistry, SMAH)

A/Prof. Michael Kelso – Antibacterial drug discovery/medicinal chemistry (Chemistry, SMAH)

Prof. Wihua Li – Development of microfluidic chip for pathogen detection and disease diagnosis (MMM, EIS)

Dr. Sally McNeill – Research development officer 

Dr. Shahla Meedya – Designing educational intervention studies on behaviour change in primary health care (Nursing, SMAH)

A/Professor Spiros Miyakis (Medicine, SMAH) – Antimicrobial drug resistance in hospital and community settings

Prof. Long Nghiem – Detection and removal of antimicrobial agents in wastewater (CME, EIS)

Dr. Wendy Nielsen – Science education, curriculum and pedagogy, environmental education, digital technologies for teaching and learning (Education, ASSH)

A/Prof. Aaron Oakley – Structure and function of proteins including potential antibiotic targets in bacteria (Chemistry, SMAH)

Prof. Will Price – Membrane technology for water treatment and reuse; in particular trace organic removal (AIIM)

Sen. Prof. Stephen Pyne – Design and synthesis of drugs against drug resistant pathogenic bacteria, including MRSA and VRE, and against Clostridium difficile (Chemistry, SMAH)

Dr. Andrew Robinson – Studying evolution of antibiotic resistance and development of diagnostic devices (Chemistry, SMAH)

Dr. Martina Sanderson-Smith – Microbiology , microbial pathogenesis and STEM community outreach  (Biological Sciences, SMAH)

Prof. Danielle Skropeta – Drug development from synthetic and natural sources (Chemistry, SMAH) 

Dist. Prof. Nick Dixon  – Targeting essential processes for antibacterial drug development (Chemistry, SMAH)


This project is working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goal:

Goal 2: Zero Hunger   Goal 3: Good Health and Wellbeing   Goal 12: Responsible consumption and production   Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals