Antimicrobial resistance is a major issue in medicine. The media attention given to outbreaks of resistant strains of bacteria such as MRSA underlines the wide interest this problem generates. Research in the school is focussed on understanding antibiotic resistance in a range of resistant bacteria, particularly Gram-negative organisms such as Enterobacteriaceae (Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae) and non-fermentors such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Actinetobacter baumannii and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia. The clinical impact of these organisms is profound: E. coli is the commonest cause of healthcare-associated infections, where the incidence of other Gram-negative species is increasing. There are few new drugs in development that are effective against antibiotic-resistant strains of these organisms.
Our research encompasses the identification of resistance genes and studies on the control of their expression (Dr Matthew Avison); structural and mechanistic investigations of resistance determinants and routes towards inhibiting their activity (Dr Jim Spencer) and pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) investigations of existing and novel antimicrobials (Professor Alasdair MacGowan with Dr Andy Lovering, Southmead). The work greatly benefits from strong links with Southmead Hospital's Microbiology Department, that have been formalised through establishment of the Bristol Centre for Antimicrobial Research and Evaluation (BCARE). BCARE, which also hosts the South West Regional Antimicrobial Reference Laboratory, has acquired an international reputation for scientific excellence, being one of the most successful groups working on antimicrobial chemotherapy and resistance in Europe. BCARE research is multidisciplinary, encompassing both basic science investigations of antimicrobial resistance mechanisms and antimicrobial and PK/PD evaluations that form key parts of the pre-clinical antibiotic development process.