Imperial College London

UK's first PhD programme to tackle antimicrobial resistance offers studentships


Drug resistant infections on the rise

Drug resistant infections threaten public health

A first of its kind programme to train new scientists to fight the threat of drug resistant bugs has awarded a number of studentships to Imperial.

As part of the training programme successful PhD applicants will work with leading scientists across the UK in the field of antimicrobial resistance, in what is emerging as one of the biggest threats to public health. 

In 2018, it will fully fund a total of 18 PhD students for four years in one of 15 participating universities across the UK, including Imperial College London.

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing problem around the world, threatening global health and food security. It occurs when pathogens develop resistance to drug treatments that have previously been effective, and can be caused by overuse of the drugs or improper prescribing – such as prescribing antibiotics for a viral infection.

The issue is a concern to health agencies around the world as growing numbers of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gonorrhoea, and salmonella – are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective.

Training the next generation

Earlier this year, the Medical Research Foundation – the Medical Research Council’s independent charity – announced the investment of £2.85m to create a PhD programme that will train new scientists to explore ways to tackle AMR.

The new studentships will be awarded to each consortium grant funded under the Cross Council funding call on AMR, with the College a holder of one of these awards. Imperial is leading on the ASPIRES: Antibiotic use across Surgical Pathways - Investigating, Redesigning and Evaluating Systems project.

In August this year, researchers at Imperial received a £2m funding injection to help tackle the threat of drug resistant microbes for patients undergoing surgery, with a grant from the Antimicrobial Resistance Cross Council Initiative supported by the seven research councils in partnership with other funders.

These PhD researchers will work at the forefront of AMR research, one of the biggest threats to public health we face today

– Alison Holmes

Professor of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London

Commenting on the new training programme, Alison Holmes, Professor of Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London, said: “We would like to thank the Medical Research Foundation for making these studentships possible and the Economic and Social Research Council for funding the multidisciplinary consortiums at Imperial College London. These PhD researchers will work at the forefront of AMR research, one of the biggest threats to public health we face today.”

Dr Matthew Avison, molecular bacteriologists at the University of Bristol and academic lead for the programme, said: “The fight against antimicrobial resistance is serious, life-threatening and global and it is a fight we must win. As academic lead for the Medical Research Foundation’s national PhD Training Programme, I look forward to leading the next generation of researchers to develop the multidisciplinary research skills required to tackle this major health problem.”

Professor Nicholas Lemoine, Chair of the Medical Research Foundation, said: “The Medical Research Foundation is delighted to fund the UK’s only national PhD Training Programme in antimicrobial resistance research.  We believe the programme will help to respond to the global health challenge that is antimicrobial resistance, including antibiotic resistance and drug resistant infections and strengthen the UK’s research capacity overall.”

The studentships will be advertised on and, as well as the College website.


Ryan O'Hare

Ryan O'Hare
Communications and Public Affairs

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Antibiotics, Public-health, Bacteria
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