An Oxford group has today been chosen as one of two major consortia dedicated to research into healthcare associated infections and antibiotic resistance.
The Oxford consortium comprises the Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (a partnership between the Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals and the University of Oxford), the Health Protection Agency, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. It will focus on research to increase understanding of how infectious diseases are transmitted, with the aim of improving the control of their spread. The consortium will exploit recent advances made in sequencing the DNA of bacteria and viruses, to improve and speed up their classification and identification. This should make it easier to track and deal with local outbreaks of infection, identify particularly virulent strains, and help to spot where infection control guidelines can be improved.
A total of £9 million has been jointly awarded to the Oxford and London groups by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Medical Research Council, National Institute for Health Research and Wellcome Trust. This is the first round of funding awarded under a UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC) joint initiative, involving a number of funding organisations. The initiative was set up to bring together new multi-disciplinary groups focused on high quality research which looks at national priorities in microbiology and infection.
Dr Derrick Crook who leads the Oxford consortium, explained: “There are major public health challenges posed by infections such as tuberculosis, MRSA and hospital acquired diarrhoeas, including Clostridium difficile and norovirus. If we can recognise the different strains of individual outbreaks of infections we can tackle them more effectively. We aim to develop rapid DNA sequence typing techniques so that infection outbreaks can be recognised and followed as they develop, and then successfully interrupted in a targeted way. We will also develop easy to use web-based tools that will help local practitioners improve routine infection control.”
Professor Brian Duerden, Inspector of Microbiology and Infection Control for the Department of Health and leader of the initiative’s management group commented on behalf of the funders: “The threats presented by infectious diseases are well recognised by the public, policy-makers, healthcare practitioners and scientists. These include infections such as tuberculosis that affects 30% of the world’s population and infections associated with healthcare settings such as MRSA and Clostridium difficile that are the focus of important reduction targets for the NHS. Through this initiative, the major funders of health research in the UK are working together to tackle these threats by driving forward research in this nationally important area. By bringing together experts from across the research spectrum to translate cutting edge basic research into clinical practice, the consortia should make a very significant impact on clinical care and public health.”
The UKCRC (www.ukcrc.org) Translational Infection Research Initiative is a partnership of seven funders who have committed up to £16.5 million investment to strengthen infection research in the UK. The Partners are:
- Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council www.bbsrc.ac.uk
- Medical Research Council www.mrc.ac.uk
- National Institute for Health Research www.nihr.ac.uk
- Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Research and Development Office
- Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorates
- The Wales Office of Research and Development for Health and Social Care, Welsh Assembly Government
- Wellcome Trust www.wellcome.ac.uk
A second round of funding under the initiative is scheduled to be awarded in late 2009.
- The London consortium comprises Imperial College London, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and the Health Protection Agency. It will focus on research into individual and organisational behavioural change, modelling, epidemiology, rapid diagnosis and surveillance of selected infectious diseases to address the challenge of healthcare associated infection and antibiotic resistance. It will bring together clinical, public health, academic and managerial research expertise to drive forward translational research on infection with the overall aim of embedding infection control into healthcare delivery.
- The UKCRC Translational Infection Research Consortia awards were made on a competitive basis and provide funding for research infrastructure, new academic posts and training programmes, including studentships. Each Centre will receive funds over a 5-year period.
- The Translational Infection Initiative was designed to provide a direct boost to research into infectious disease through investment in new research partnerships, focused on high quality, collaborative research targeted at national priority areas.
- The UK Clinical Research Collaboration (UKCRC), established in 2004, is a partnership of organisations working together to establish the UK as a world leader in clinical research by harnessing the research potential of the National Health Service. The Partners include the key stakeholders that shape the health research environment, including research funders, the NHS, government, industry, academia, regulators, charities and patients.
- Detailed information on UKCRC activities can be found in the UKCRC Progress Report 2004 – 2006, which is available on the UKCRC website: www.ukcrc.org