Seminar | Mathematical modelling of antimicrobial resistance (or, how important are those chickens?)


Speaker: Dr Gwen Knight, Imperial College London

When: Tuesday 18th July: 12:45-2:00pm

Where: Keppel Street, John Snow A


Abstract: The global problem of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a “wicked” one. To tackle it requires both a one-health, multidisciplinary perspective and a distillation of the drivers within a coherent framework. Increasingly, mathematical modelling is being seen as the key tool for this task as it can be used to synthesise data from multiple sources, integrate complex environments within one framework (hospitals and farms, for example) and make predictions to compare interventions. In this seminar, I will highlight some of the ways in which my own mathematical modelling is addressing the problem of AMR at a range of scales.

Importantly, I believe modelling must be used to address what I see as the main question for AMR research: how much AMR is coming from where? For example, does giving chickens antibiotics really matter? This quantification of the issue is desperately needed for our basic understanding and to optimize resource allocation by the targeting of interventions at the biggest sources and transmission pathways of AMR. For example, how many of our infections with drug resistant bacteria in the intensive care unit were transmitted from other patients vs. prior colonization? (and how many came from the chicken that was for dinner?) Here, I will discuss work that compares the use of antibiotics in the UK community vs. hospital setting to ask is more resistance selected for within or outside hospitals? More specifically, I will then discuss work being done with a London hospital, using mathematical modelling to aid in the design of the screening process for carbapenem resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE) (should we screen poultry farmers?). Moving to a global scale, I will then briefly discuss some of the issues around making predictions of AMR burden with mathematical modelling, with the example of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. My conclusions will aim to give an overview of both my work, and the contribution modelling can have to the field of AMR research, whilst also addressing whether those chickens really are that important.

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