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Supporting the next generation of resistance fighters

From left to right: Prof Hubert Endtz (Course Director), Disha Parsairin, Seniyat Afegbua and Prof Antoine Andremont (Course Director)

As the IOI develops solutions to tackle the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), we recognise the key role graduates and early career researchers will play driving progress against AMR in the future. We recently supported five candidates to attend a course on ‘AMR: a one health challenge’, hosted by the Mérieux Foundation and Paris Cité University course in France. Open to scientists, health care professionals and decision makers the course supports experts, particularly from low-middle income countries to design national One Health National Action Plans to combat AMR.

An interdisciplinary approach involving doctors, environmentalists, biologists and chemists is crucial to tackle AMR. I have now attended and taught on this course for the last three years and in my humble opinion, it is unquestionably the best course that addresses one health issues in low- and- middle income countries (LMICs). Within the IOI, we have established a network of approximately 28 hospitals in 10 LMICs as part of our clinical and economic burden studies, BALANCE and BARNARDS. We were delighted to support two candidates from our own clinical research networks, in this case Disha and Seniyat. We are committed to supporting young and talented fellows from LMICs as part of our education and research commitments across Africa and South Asia.”

Read what Disha and Seniyat had to say about the course below.

Disha Parsairin says:

I am a medical graduate from Bangladesh and am currently studying a MD course at the Mymensingh Medical College in Bangladesh.

Although I started my career as a clinician, I got interested in the field of microbiology and infectious diseases when I started working on a COVID-19/Drug Resistant Infections project funded by the Wellcome Trust and led by Prof Tim Walsh.

Tim encouraged me to attend the third edition of the AMR- One Health Challenge course, and it was an experience of a lifetime.

Five days in length, the course had an interactive format of both lectures and group discussions. During the first two days we learnt about a wide range of topics from collecting, monitoring and interpreting data to communicating this data to national stakeholders and the importance of raising public awareness of AMR. The group discussions were a great platform to discuss practical ways of implementing lecture learnings in real life.

I was not familiar with designing surveillance techniques and the limitations that might create bias in the surveillance. This knowledge has been invaluable to me, and will help me in developing subsequent research in future.

The course had a systematic flow. I learnt about intervention techniques to tackle AMR on day three. Empirical antibiotic usage is the traditional practice for managing infections in many LMICs, including Bangladesh. Strengthening research on microbiology can help us move towards targeted therapy. During the last two days, I understood the important of having strong national policies to prevent AMR, including investment in preventative measures and strict antimicrobial guidelines.

The group work projects were very encouraging. Being a young participant, I was not very confident at the beginning, however Tim, other professors and fellow colleagues were very supportive. I particularly enjoyed Tim’s humour during the group discussions. His encouragement gave me confidence to analyse the strength and limitations of any scenario in the group works on the following days.

At the end of the day five we had a closing ceremony and I got a certificate for my participation. Last but not least, I consider myself a fortunate person to have had the opportunity to interact with Tim, Stephan, Andremont, Jaap, Patrick, Patriarchi, Luka, Cecilia and other legendary faculty members during the course.

This was the first international trip of my life, and it gave me confidence to interact with people from different countries and to learn about various cultures. The scenic beauty of Les Pensieres amazed me. In addition to the learning, I got over my fear of dogs and of singing publicly. I can't thank enough Tim, Refath and the Ineos Oxford Institute enough to support me in this fantastic opportunity.

Seniyat Afegbua says

I am a Lecturer in microbiology at the Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria and am collaborating with the Ineos Oxford Institute on a few AMR projects in Nigeria.

I was delighted to have the opportunity to attend the AMR- One Health Challenge course in France and have the chance to interact with its fantastic faculty members.

The informative presentation sessions and group work stimulated interesting discussions- and I was able to relate them to my experience in LMIC settings.

It also provided a great platform for networking and inspired new research ideas. It was lovely to meet four other Nigerians and we intend to develop and collaborate on AMR project(s) back home.

Since attending the course, I have an increased sense of hope that collaborative efforts in the fight against AMR can make difference in my country and other LMIC.

I commend the organisers for a great job. I would definitely recommend the course to anyone interested in tackling AMR for a national perspective and look forward to attending in the future. I am truly delighted that I was able to attend and participate in the course. I thank Prof Tim Walsh and the IOI for this great opportunity.