We want to transform the world's approach towards stemming the rise and spread of drug-resistant infections. Antibiotics are a vital part of modern medicine but their overuse and inappropriate use in humans and animals has caused one of the most urgent global health problems. 

What we want to achieve

If we act now, we can minimise the threat of drug-resistant infections, saving millions of lives and safeguarding the medical progress of the past hundred years for future generations. If we don’t, then routine medical procedures and operations will become dangerous or cease to be effective.

Through this priority area we want to: 

  • help the world fulfil the commitments made in the UN resolution on drug-resistant infections by sustaining and coordinating global action
  • speed up development and delivery of new or improved antibiotic treatments and diagnostics
  • help shape national and global strategies for tackling drug-resistant infections by generating and supporting the use of robust evidence
  • accelerate the clinical assessment of new or improved drugs through expanded clinical trials networks.

We already fund people with great ideas for tackling drug-resistant infections, so this priority area is not a funding call. It’s an opportunity for us to build on the work of the innovative people we support, and take action to make sure infectious diseases can be treated in the future.

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For the latest news and views on all aspects of antimicrobial resistance, follow us on Twitter @Wellcome_AMR

The areas we're focusing on

Effective global governance

In 2016, the 193 member states of the United Nations unanimously passed a resolution to tackle drug-resistant infections, calling for a coordinated international response. 

To help sustain this global action:

New treatments and diagnostics

There have been decades of under-investment in antibiotic discovery and development because of the cost and complexity of developing new antibiotics, combined with unfavourable market conditions. The result is that there aren’t enough new drugs in the antibiotics pipeline to replace those which are becoming ineffective.

To change this, Wellcome is helping to fund CARB-X, a public-private partnership which is dedicated to accelerating antibacterial research. The partnership aims to fill the current dearth of investment by providing up to $500 million over the next five years. Find out about CARB-X's top achievements so far

CARB-X aims to protect people from the most serious bacterial threats by accelerating antibacterial product development.

In addition, we:

  • Support the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership, which is working to develop and deliver new or improved antibiotic treatments. The first trials are for new treatments for neonatal sepsis and gonorrhoea.
  • Lead policy discussions about how governments and industry can work together to sustainably increase antibiotic discovery and development.
  • Support WHO to define the characteristics of diagnostics that are most effective for use in low-income settings. 

Evidence for decision-making

Drug-resistant infections don’t stop at borders. That’s why we want to help transform the way countries track, share and analyse information about the rise and spread of superbugs. 

The Surveillance and Epidemiology of Drug-resistant Infections Consortium (SEDRIC) brings together international experts to share expertise and identify the gaps in drug-resistant infection surveillance and epidemiology. Applications to join the consortium are now open.

Other areas we're focusing on:

  • we're looking at how existing data on antimicrobial resistance can be used more effectively by:
    • working with partners to integrate the mapping of the burden of antimicrobial resistance into the Global Burden of Disease Index 
    • developing a new open data sharing platform [PDF 1.1MB] to maximise the use of pharmaceutical industry antibiotic surveillance data
    • launching a Wellcome Data Re-use Prize for researchers who want to explore ways to re-use the antimicrobial resistance surveillance data generated by the pharmaceutical industry. 
  • we want to influence positive behaviour change – we're establishing an expert group with WHO to explore how to influence prescriber behaviour in low- and middle-income countries 
  • we want to analyse the impact of antimicrobial resistance legislation and policies – eg how the ban on antimicrobials in animal production in California has affected antimicrobial resistance and human health. 

Faster clinical trials 

Clinical trials for new treatments for infectious diseases are long, expensive and inefficient. Up to 300 hospitals have to get involved to run a trial for each new treatment. 

With partners, we’re looking at how to design and build clinical trial networks that have standardised processes. 

We believe this approach could save $300 million and reduce the time needed to achieve regulatory approval for new products by at least two years.

What's at stake

  • Without action now, the number of people dying each year from drug-resistant infections will rise from 700,000 to 10 million by 2050.
  • Of every 100 hospitalised patients, seven in high-income and ten in low- and middle-income countries will develop at least one healthcare-associated infection. 
  • Since Alexander Fleming’s famous Penicillium discovery in 1928, nearly all antibiotics have been variations on existing drugs. There has been no new class to treat the most dangerous Gram-negative bacteria since 1962.

Reports and consultations

Response to the Open Consultation on Proposals Received for the 2020 Comprehensive Review of the Global Indicator Framework [PDF 103KB]

We respond to the Open Consultation on Proposals Received for the 2020 Comprehensive Review of the Global Indicator Framework, specifically in relation to inclusion of an antimicrobial resistance-specific indicator within the Sustainable Development Goals.

Call to Action on Antimicrobial Resistance 2018 Report [PDF 1.4MB]

Key outcomes from the second Call to Action on Antimicrobial Resistance held in Ghana, co-hosted by the Governments of Ghana, Thailand and the UK, along with the World Bank, UN Foundation and Wellcome.

The Ghana Declaration, Call to Action on Antimicrobial Resistance [PDF 927KB]

The Ghana Declaration signed by the co-hosts of the Call to Action on Antimicrobial Resistance, together with civil society leaders, heads of private sector companies and the World Health Organization, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organisation for Animal Health.

Wellcome response to IACG draft recommendations [PDF 598KB]

We respond to the draft recommendations of the Ad hoc Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance.

Addressing antimicrobial resistance in the environment [PDF 1.9MB]

This scientific white paper looks at the evidence about how antimicrobial resistance in the environment is impacting human health, and at how the risks can be addressed.

It summarises discussions from the International Environmental AMR forum, held in April 2018. Read the executive summary [PDF 638KB] for the key messages.

CARB-X annual reports

The progress CARB-X has made towards accelerating antibacterial research since it was established in 2016. 

Vaccines for antimicrobial resistance

This report, commissioned by Wellcome and produced by Boston Consulting Group, looks at the opportunities and challenges around developing vaccines to combat antimicrobial resistance.

Antimicrobial resistance inquiry [PDF 89KB]

The evidence we submitted to the Health and Social Care Committee Antimicrobial resistance inquiry.  

Antimicrobial resistance surveillance: sharing industry data [PDF 1.1MB]

Recommendations from a pilot project to openly publish human antimicrobial resistance surveillance data generated and collected by the pharmaceutical industry. The project was led by the Open Data Institute and funded by Wellcome.

Call to Action on Antimicrobial Resistance [PDF 1.9MB]

The key outcomes from the Call to Action on Antimicrobial Resistance event, organised by Wellcome in partnership with the UK, Ghanaian and Thai governments and the UN Foundation.

The event focused on the critical gaps in tackling the spread of drug-resistant infections and sought commitments to concerted and tangible actions.

SEDRIC, one year on [PDF 371KB]

A reflection on the activities and accomplishments of the Surveillance and Epidemiology of Drug-Resistant Infections Consortium (SEDRIC) in its first year, and plans for the next 12 months.

More reports 

See all of our reports on drug-resistant infections


What are drug-resistant infections?

A Q&A that explains what drug-resistant infections are, who is affected and what we can do to stem the rise and spread of drug-resistant infections.

Super-gonorrhoea is here – that means the antibiotic crisis is too

Highly drug-resistant bugs are no longer a future problem. After decades of complacency, urgency is needed, says Wellcome’s Jeremy Knox in The Guardian.

Antibiotic resistance has a language barrier

We join international experts to call for a review of the global language used to discuss the problem of pathogens resistant to available drugs.

More articles

See more of our articles on drug-resistant infections.

Our team

  • Tim Jinks, Head of Drug-resistant Infections Programme
  • Sharon Peacock, Clinical Microbiologist, Expert in Residence
  • John Rex, Infectious Disease Physician, Expert in Residence
  • Jeremy Knox, Policy and Advocacy Lead
  • Rebecca Sugden, Senior Policy Officer
  • Sian Williams, Policy Officer
  • Oliver Williams, Policy Officer
  • Gemma Buckland-Merrett, Science Innovation Lead
  • Francesca Chiara, Science Officer
  • Janet Midega, Science Officer
  • Joanna Wiecek, Science Officer
  • Chibuzor Uchea, Science Officer
  • Charlotte Chapman, Programme Manager
  • Janvi Patel, PA/Team Co-ordinator
  • Veronika Jacobi, Team Administrator

We're working closely with other experts and partner organisations, including research and policy experts, clinical scientists, product developers, non-governmental organisations and other funders.

Our strategic advisory board provides guidance on this priority area.

If you have any questions or comments, contact the team: drugresistantinfections@wellcome.ac.uk.


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