Antibiotic-resistant bacteria, according to the CDC, cause at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the United States every year. Infections caused by these pathogens cost an estimated $20 billion a year in direct health care costs and up to $35 billion in lost productivity as a result of hospitalizations and sick days. This growing public health threat has prompted action on a number of fronts.
In 2015, the Task Force on Antibiotic Resistance in Production Agriculture established by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) released a report that offered an array of research and education recommendations to address the AMR problem. The report called for the creation of the National Institute of Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education (NIAMRRE) to coordinate the implementation of the report’s recommendations at universities and veterinary medical colleges across the country.
A review committee selected the proposal submitted by Iowa State University, on behalf of the AMR Consortium, from among nine qualified proposals submitted by major universities throughout the nation. The AMR Consortium proposal was chosen to lead development of the new institute because of the range, depth, and capacity of its existing activities, partnerships, and resources devoted to addressing the AMR problem.
Since their discovery, antibiotics have been an important ingredient in the treatment of human and animal disease. However, as the use of antibiotics has increased, so has the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria which has narrowed the potential effective uses of some antibiotics for either disease prevention or treatment in both humans and animals. Antimicrobial resistance is a complex issue and its causes are multi-factorial. Solving the problem is going to require concerted effort, collaboration among many scientific disciplines, national and international organizations, and resources.
One Health is an emerging approach in healthcare that involves veterinarians, physicians, and other scientific experts working closely together to attain optimal health for people, animals, and the environment. Using a One Health approach, NIAMRRE will foster and coordinate research and education activities aimed at mitigating the development of antimicrobial resistance.
Under the direction of Dr. Paul Plummer, who serves as executive director, Iowa State will work with its co-founder, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, as well as the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC), the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU), and other partners. NIAMRRE will unite university scientists and educators, traditional and non-traditional agricultural industry partners, agricultural producers, medical and veterinary medical practitioners, other health scientists, government agencies (federal, state, regional, and intergovernmental), pharmaceutical industries, philanthropic organizations/foundations, and commodity organizations on the initiative. Multi-institutional partnerships will be encouraged.
NIAMRRE began operations with approximately $1.6 million in start-up funding from Iowa State University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Moving forward, the Institute will pursue additional funding through federal, state, nonprofit foundations, and international channels, as well as membership from stakeholders, including the consortium universities and their component parts; food and pharmaceutical companies; commodity, industry, and professional organizations; agriculture and public health organizations; foundations; government organizations and agencies; and, independent research organizations.