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 due to hospitalizations and sick days. Experts believe the misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture and over-prescription and patient non-compliance in human healthcare are leading contributors to the AMR problem.
The new institute is the result of a joint Task Force on Antibiotic Resistance in Production Agriculture that AAVMC and APLU created in 2014, which released a report the following year that offered an array of research and education recommendations designed to address the problem utilizing a One Health approach. 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. The report called for the creation of an Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education to coordinate the implementation of the report’s recommendations.
“The misuse of antibiotics is a major reason why antimicrobial resistance is a rapidly growing threat to human, animal, and environmental health,” said Ian Maw, APLU’s Vice President Food, Agriculture & Natural Resources. “While the problem is well understood, the path to advancing solutions has been blurry. It’s clear we need a coordinating body to organize research and education activities so we can make meaningful progress to reverse this trend. Solving big problems like antimicrobial resistance goes right to the heart of the research and engagement missions of public and land-grant universities.”
“This represents the culmination of a lot of work accomplished by many different people and organizations working within the APLU/AAVMC partnership,” said AAVMC CEO Dr. Andrew T. Maccabe. “With a broad and deep level of expertise, resources, and relationships in place, Iowa State University is well-positioned to step up and lead this new national institute. Building upon an existing multi-center initiative makes a great deal of sense.”
Iowa State’s application to establish the new institute was structured upon plans to substantially upgrade an existing university-based research and education program called the Antimicrobial Resistance Consortium. Formed three years ago, that consortium was beginning to address some of the same issues outlined in the task force report. Dr. Paul Plummer of Iowa State University, who leads the existing Consortium, will serve as executive director of the new institute.
“Antimicrobial resistance touches each of us in our daily lives. This new institute provides a great resource for the entire country as we work to build strong, collaborative research and educational programs to mitigate this risk,” said Plummer, associate professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine at Iowa State.
As the leader of the new institute, Iowa State will partner with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska Medical Center, the University of Iowa, and the Mayo Medical Clinic – all of which are involved with its existing consortium. Iowa State will also partner with two major USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) facilities, as well as a collection of agricultural stakeholders representing over one-fourth of the U.S. swine and beef industry.
As envisioned, the institute will serve as a national resource for coordinating and focusing the efforts of various stakeholders, organizations and institutions from academia, government and industry. The institute will embrace and coordinate multidisciplinary approaches for fundamental, translational, and applied research; implement and evaluate education and training efforts to address the challenges of AMR; and identify effective interventions to reduce or prevent AMR among people, animals, and the environment.
A review committee selected the Iowa State University proposal from among nine submitted by major universities from throughout the nation because of the depth of existing activities and resources already in place.
Iowa State will provide office space and IT support for the institute, which will initially be jointly funded by Iowa State and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln at $525,000 per year for three years ($1.575 million total investment). The institute will also be supported through grants and membership in the consortium. An independent board of directors will govern the institute. Iowa State and its partners and stakeholders will work with APLU and AAVMC to develop a governance structure, including an independent board of directors to oversee the institute.