Antimicrobial resistance

Antimicrobial resistance – or AMR - is a major global health challenge. The ability of microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses, to develop resistance to antibiotics and antivirals threatens many of the gains made in global health over recent decades. 

Status: Ongoing

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is defined as the resistance of a microorganism to an antimicrobial treatment to which it was previously sensitive.

Bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites can all develop AMR, making existing antibiotic, antifungal, antiviral and antiparasitic drugs (collectively known as ‘antimicrobials’) ineffective. Although AMR occurs naturally over time, the overuse and misuse of antimicrobials in healthcare and agriculture accelerates the development of AMR. 

As well as impacting our ability to treat common infections, the increasing incidence of AMR threatens to make even routine major surgeries and other medical practices, including chemotherapy, a serious risk.

In recent years, AMR has been recognised as a serious global threat, and one of the most critical health challenges of our time:

  • Each year, at least 700,000 people die worldwide due to antimicrobial-resistant infections. In the UK, 12,000 people are thought to die annually due to antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.
  • If no action is taken, it has been predicted that by 2050 the number of deaths related to AMR will increase to 10 million people a year globally.

AMR is therefore a key priority for researchers and policymakers. In 2019, the UK government published a 20-year vision and an initial 5-year national action plan for tackling AMR. In 2024, the UK government published its second national action plan for AMR Confronting antimicrobial resistance 2024 to 2029.

Find out more about AMR and the innovations required to tackle this critical global health challenge by reading our recent blog on expanding the antimicrobial toolkit.

Key contacts

Addressing antimicrobial resistance with a One Health approach invite-only symposium and workshop

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2024 FORUM Sir Colin Dollery Lecture: Health research where you are – from GP to care home

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Mentoring Masterclass - June 2024

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