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Antimicrobial (Drug) Resistance

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Research Goals

Antimicrobials have transformed our ability to treat many infectious diseases that were killers only a few decades ago. The increasing use of antimicrobials in humans, animals, and agriculture has resulted in many pathogens developing resistance to these powerful drugs. All major groups of pathogens—viruses, fungi, parasites, and bacteria—can become resistant to antimicrobials.

Many diseases are increasingly difficult to treat because of the emergence of drug-resistant organisms, including HIV and other viruses; bacteria such as staphylococci, enterococci, and Escherichia coli; respiratory infections such as tuberculosis and influenza; foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella and Campylobacter; sexually transmitted organisms such as Neisseria gonorrhoeae; fungal infections such as Candida; and parasites such as the malaria-causing Plasmodium falciparum.

Plans, Priorities, and Goals

NIAID manages a research portfolio of grants specifically aimed at the problem of antimicrobial resistance and hospital-acquired infections.

Antimicrobial Resistance Program

The Antimicrobial Resistance Program supports research to

  • Study antimicrobial resistance in major viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic pathogens, including the major healthcare-associated bacterial pathogens
  • Identify new diagnostic techniques, novel therapeutics, and preventive measures to minimize infection with resistant pathogens; prevent the acquisition of resistant traits; and control the spread of resistance factors and resistant pathogens with a focus on healthcare settings
  • Support basic research into the molecular biology and genetics of resistance gene acquisition, maintenance, and transmission
  • Work with academic researchers and biotechnology companies to explore novel therapeutic approaches such as monoclonal antibodies and natural antimicrobial peptides

Medical Bacteriology Program

The Medical Bacteriology Program supports research to

  • Control and prevent the spread of bacterial infections in patient care facilities
  • Facilitate development of interventions for healthcare-associated bacterial infections
  • Understand the biology of bacterial species most often involved in hospital-acquired infections
  • Control and prevent Gram-negative bloodstream infections (sepsis) 
  • Control and prevent bacterial urinary tract infections
  • Develop diagnostics platforms for novel detection of key pathogens responsible for sepsis and community-acquired pneumonia

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Last Updated December 21, 2011