EMBRACE Project Manager
+44 (0)20 3313 1282
Engineering, Medicine, Natural Sciences and Physical Sciences Bridging Research in Antimicrobial resistance: Collaboration and Exchange
EMBRACE is a two-year, EPSRC project which started in August 2015. It aims to bridge the gap between Engineering, Medicine and the Natural and Physical Sciences in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) research.
EMBRACE is sponsored by the EPSRC, as part of its 'Bridging the Gaps' initiative. The purpose of EMBRACE is to nurture multidisciplinary research within Imperial College to challenge the catastrophic threat of antimicrobial resistance. The programme is principally designed to develop a cohort of interdisciplinary research fellows who will develop a unique set of hybrid research skills, a positive attitude to multidisciplinary research and the ability to communicate across traditional academic boundaries.
Supporting this main aim are a range of activities including developing the ARC virtual network, organising conferences and seminars, a sandpit exercise and providing pump-priming support to AMR projects.
Principal and co-investigators
Professor Christofer Toumazou
Professor Christofer Toumazou
Winston Wong Chair of Biomedical Circuits
Professor Alison Holmes
Professor Alison Holmes
Professor of Infectious Diseases
Professor Alan Armstrong
Professor Alan Armstrong
Head of Department of Chemistry
Imperial Network of Excellence
EMBRACE partnership with ARC@Imperial addresses key challenges in antimicrobial research by adopting a ‘one health’ approach. The ARC@Imperial collaborative has a truly multidisciplinary approach to antimicrobial research and we consider this the only way to tackle the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), expanding interdisciplinary collaborations and communications in all aspects of health care for people, animals and the environment.
If you are a researcher or have a special interest in AMR research and would like to join the Imperial Network of Excellence in Antimicrobial Resistance, please contact our network managers Joao Reis and Sara Yadav
Our pump priming projects
The purpose of EMBRACE is to provide a focal point for facilitating cross-disciplinary research in AMR at Imperial College. With this in mind, five pump-priming projects and one sandpit award have been presented. All the pump-priming teams have the participation of at least one EMBRACE Fellow, and are truly multidisciplinary, not just cross department but cross faculty and some involve researchers who have not previously applied their work to the field of AMR. The aim is to support successful proof of concept studies that foster multidisciplinary consortium formation with mid to long-term collaboration, generating pilot data that will lead to successful application for larger grants.
Title: Rapid Evaporative Ionisation Mass Spectrometry for Early detection of Antimicrobial Resistance
Principal investigator: Professor Zoltan Takats, Surgery and Cancer
Co-investigators: Dr Frankie Bolt, Dr Simon Cameron Surgery and Cancer; Dr Gerald Larrouy-Maumus Life Sciences; Dr Pau Herrero-Viñas (EMBRACE Fellow) Electrical and Electronic Engineering; Dr Maryam Modarai (former EMBRACE Fellow) Medicine
This project aims to utilise a novel, real-time mass spectrometry technology (Rapid Evaporative Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (REIMS)) in two ways: firstly, to identify drug resistant isolates from bacterial colonies, and secondly, to directly analyse clinical samples for biomarkers of infection using a point of care device. Both these approaches will have a significant impact on clinical care and will also prevent empirical and, in many cases, unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions which are major drivers of antibiotic resistance.
Title: Targeting quadruplex-DNA in the promoters of genes associated to antibacterial resistance
Principal investigator: Professor Ramon Vilar, Chemistry
Co-investigators: Prof Alain Filloux Life Sciences; Dr K. Miraz Rahman Institute of Pharmaceutical Science – King’s College; Dr Lindsay Evans (former EMBRACE Fellow) Natural Sciences; Dr Maryam Modarai (former EMBRACE Fellow) Medicine
The overall aim of this proof-of-concept project is to establish the regulatory roles that quadruplexes formed in the promoter regions of murE and ftsB have in the expression of these genes in P. aeruginosa. The ultimate aim is to establish new targets in the future development of antibacterial agents. This project brings together three internationally-leading research groups and two EMBRANCE fellows with highly complementary expertise.
Title: Antimicrobial resistance in gut communities
Principal investigator: Dr Caroline Colijn, Mathematics
Co-investigators: Dr Maryam Modarai (former EMBRACE Fellow) Medicine; Dr Lesley Hoyles Surgery & Cancer; Dr Nicholas Croucher Infectious Disease Epidemiology
In this project we will directly observe how antibiotics drive interactions between AMR and AMS genes and how they affect metabolic function in human gut microbial communities. The team has the combined expertise to use metagenomic tools to characterise AMR and AMS genes and plasmids to characterise metabolic functions with NMR metabolomics, to develop state of the art mathematical characterisations and comparisons of these complex datasets and to make resulting tools available to the community.
Title: LIPID-MINDS: Lipid Mapping to Identify Novel Drug Solutions
Principal investigator: Dr Gerald Larrouy-Maumus, Life Sciences
Co-investigators: Prof Mark Chambers School of Veterinary Medicine, Health & Medical Sciences; Prof Zoltan Takats, Dr Frankie Bolt, Dr Renata Soares Surgery and Cancer; Dr Lindsay Evans (former EMBRACE Fellow), Dr Rudiger Woscholski, Prof Ramon Vilar Department of Chemistry
This novel and interdisciplinary project arose from the interactions between the participants at the first EMBRACE Sandpit (July 2016). The originality of this proposal is to identify and design specific chemicals that will interfere with host-pathogen lipid metabolism during tuberculosis (TB) infection. This strategy is equally applicable to other intracellular bacterial pathogens, such as Shigella, Salmonella to cite a few.
Title: Real-time Enhanced Antimicrobial ConTroller (REACT)
Principal investigator: Dr Timothy M Rawson, NIHR HPRU HCAI & AMR
Co-investigators: Dr Pau Herrero (EMBRACE Fellow) & Dr Maryam Modarai (former EMBRACE Fellow), Electrical Engineering & Medicine; Dr Danny O’Hare Bioengineering; Mark Gilchrist Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust; Prof Martin Wilkins Imperial Clinical Research Facility; Dr Pantelis Georgiou Electrical and Electronic Engineering; Prof Tony Cass Chemistry; Prof Alison Holmes Medicine
This project investigates a novel method of precision antimicrobial delivery utilising a closed-loop control system integrating a novel continuous minimally invasive antimicrobial sensor. This allows real-time assessment of antimicrobial levels to guide a closed-loop controller (e.g. PID, MPC or iterative learning control), which optimises the delivery of antimicrobial agents through direct communication and adjustment of an infusion pump.
Title: Promoting Immune Clearance of Bacterial Pathogens (EMBRACE Sandpit award)
Principal investigator: Dr Andrew Edwards, Bacteriology
Co-investigators: Dr John Tregoning Bacteriology; Dr Ali Saleh-Reyhani Single cell analysis; Dr Avinash Shenoy Immunology; Dr Myrsini Kaforou Bioinformatics; Dr Lindsay Evans (former EMBRACE Fellow) and Dr Thomas Lanyon-Hogg Chemistry; Dr Mike Cox Microbiome
This project takes a novel approach by increasing the susceptibility of bacteria to immune killing. The aim of this proposal is to develop small molecule inhibitors of a specific DNA-repair complex that can be used prophylactically or therapeutically to promote immune clearance of bacterial pathogens and reduce the emergence of drug-resistance. If successful, this will provide proof-of-concept for new approaches to treating and preventing infection and provide the foundations for a new class of anti-infective drugs. Additional impact arises from the training of a young group of researchers in multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach to the development of the next generation of independent AMR researchers.
Meet the Fellows
The EMBRACE Fellows
Pau received a MEng degree in industrial engineering from the University of Girona (Spain) in 2001, and a PhD in control engineering from University of Angers (France) in 2006. He then spent one year as a Research Fellow at University of California Santa Barbara (USA) working on diabetes technology related projects, followed by two years at Sant Pau Hospital/Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain) leading different eHealth projects for the prevention and management of diabetes.
He is currently a Research Fellow (EMBRACE) within the Centre for Bio-inspired Technology at Imperial College London. His main focus of research in AMR is on developing point-of-care decision support systems to optimize antimicrobial prescribing in intensive and secondary care settings.
Dr Dominic Affron
Dominic obtained a MChem degree from St. John’s College, University of Oxford, having worked with Prof. Timothy Donohoe for his Part II project. He then completed a PhD degree under the supervision of Dr. James Bull at Imperial College London, and subsequently worked in the same group as a Postdoctoral Research Associate for 6 months, developing new strategies for the synthesis of saturated heterocycles. He currently holds a senior postdoc position in Synthesis/Chemical Biology with Prof. Alan Armstrong at Imperial College London.
Dominic is currently a Research Fellow (EMBRACE) within Organic Synthesis/Chemical Biology at Imperial College London.
Former EMBRACE Fellow Dr Lindsay Evans
Lindsay studied for a MChem degree in Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Leeds, before completing her PhD at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) under the supervision of Prof. Keith Jones. Following completion of her PhD, she spent a year working as a Postdoctoral Training Fellow at the ICR in the field of small molecule drug discovery and was a Research Fellow (EMBRACE) within the faculty of Natural Sciences at Imperial College London until March 2017.
She currently holds a Wellcome Trust: Pathfinder Award in collaboration with Dr. Andy Edwards (CMBI) and Prof. Alan Armstrong (Chemistry).
Former EMBRACE Fellow Dr Maryam Modarai (Department of Medicine at Imperial College London)
Our Research Network
Behavioural and Social Science
This theme is focussed on improving our understanding of the behaviours in both primary and hospital care settings which can drive antibiotic resistance. Changes in behaviour that can avert threats associated with inadequate antimicrobial stewardship are being researched, communicated and implemented in the Imperial Healthcare NHS Trust and beyond. These behavioural interventions will include short, medium and long-term strategies to improve the quality of antimicrobial prescribing which will have practical application for the benefit of patients resulting from improved health care.
Diagnostics and Innovation
This theme encompasses research into how antimicrobial resistant infections can be diagnosed in laboratories and at the point of care and how clinicians can be supported to make optimal choices about treatment for patients. Specific areas of expertise include the development of mobile applications which give clinicians access to patient data at the bedside, the use of artificial intelligence to assist in appropriate decision making around antibiotic therapies, to modelling approaches evaluating the effects of novel antibiotic drugs.
Environment and the Microbiome
Researchers within this theme are investigating how interactions between bacteria in the microbiome affect antimicrobial resistance. This includes understanding the effect of ecological interactions between bacterial species on the evolution of antibiotic resistance, and investigating the transfer of antibiotic resistance between bacterial strains or species via plasmids. Research will extend to include the build-up of resistance in the environment, and contamination and residues left in animals will also form part of this theme.
Intelligent Use of Data
This theme uses epidemiology, surveillance, bioinformatics and mathematical modelling to inform the fight against Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). Specific research includes the use of modelling methodologies to understand the emergence and spread of AMR at the population level and how the introduction of vaccination may affect the prevalence of AMR, and also, the use of highly specialised techniques such as mass spectrometry to identify bacteria at the strain level.
Management and Prevention
Researchers within this theme are working to improve the management of infections, the emergence of resistance, current treatment regimens and strategies for preventing the spread of infection at a local and global level. We are furthering our understanding of the extent of antimicrobial resistance, developing diagnostics to monitor treatment strategies, and developing and assessing the efficacy and safety of novel treatments.
This theme encompasses research into the molecular mechanisms which underlie bacterial pathogenesis. This includes examining the molecular changes that make bacteria antibiotic-resistant, understanding bacterial cellular processes in order to identify new target proteins for antibiotics, understanding how the interactions between bacteria and their host affect the success of antibiotic treatment, and investigating how antibiotic resistance mechanisms can be identified in the laboratory.
Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Research within this theme will produce novel antimicrobial therapeutics which will replace treatments to which resistance is widespread in clinical practice. This theme brings together expertise in antimicrobial synthesis and drug design towards novel targets, target validation, the efficacy of target protein inhibition, and analysis of the effects on bacterial cells. Our researchers are devising parallel synthesis of compounds to provide hit structures for bioassay and optimisation of structure-activity relationships to provide lead compounds for further in vivo studies. These lead compounds will eventually progress into phase-I clinical trials.
Public Health and Policy
The Public Health and Policy research theme is focused around maintaining a healthy public, protecting them from threats to their wellbeing. Incorporated into this theme are the interdisciplinary approaches of epidemiology, biostatistics and health service policy research. Programmes of research include investigating minimising the risk and impact of illness, encouraging the use of new technologies to greater clinical effect and the uptake of more effective treatments for patients.
Researchers in this theme are furthering our understanding of the molecular structures of microbial macromolecules and how these affect antimicrobial resistance (AMR). It includes the development of biosensors to determine which micro-organism is infecting a patient, investigating how bacteria sense the presence of antibiotics, examining which molecules are involved in AMR, identifying enzymes that could be new targets for antibiotics and using living cells to manufacture antimicrobial compounds.