Iowa State University has been chosen to establish and host a new national Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Research and Education center.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the U.S. annually, as well as up to $20 billion a year in health care costs. 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.
“Antimicrobial resistance touches each of us in our daily lives,” said Paul Plummer, the Iowa State professor who will serve as director of the new facility. “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.”

In an email, Plummer said the goal of the institute is to “provide local, national, and international leadership in combating antimicrobial resistance, generating evidence-based rationales for antibiotic stewardship, contributing to improvements in the health of animals, humans, and the environment … and facilitate economically and socially sound policy development for the US and world.”

The institute is the result of a task force created by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) to study the problem of antibiotic resistance. The task force released a report in 2015 that included an array of research and education recommendations and for the creation of the AMR research center to coordinate the implementation of its recommendations.

“While the problem is well understood, the path to advancing solutions has been blurry,” Ian Maw, APLU’s Vice President Food, Agriculture & Natural Resources, said in a release. “It’s clear we need a coordinating body to organize research and education activities so we can make meaningful progress to reverse this trend.” 

APLU noted that Iowa State’s application to establish the new institute was structured upon plans to 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. ISU’s Plummer, who will be director of the new institute, has been leading the existing Consortium.

A review committee selected the ISU proposal from among nine submitted by major universities from throughout the nation.

As the new institute leader, Iowa State will partner with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the University of Iowa, and the Mayo Medical Clinic as well as with two major USDA Agricultural Research Service facilities and a collection of agricultural stakeholders.

“Iowa State is honored to be selected for this critically important institute devoted to tackling antimicrobial resistance,” Sarah Nusser, Iowa State vice president for research, on the school’s website. “We are grateful to our partner organizations throughout the Midwest for their collaboration in developing the Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Education proposal, and we look forward to building new partnerships across the country as the institute grows to form a national consortium.”

According to the APLU, Iowa State will provide office space and IT support for the institute, which will initially be jointly funded by ISU 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.


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