The University of Oxford has received £ 100million – one of the largest donations in its history – for a new institute focused on antibiotic resistance.
The donation from chemicals giant Ineos will be used to fund antimicrobial research at the institution, which played a key role in the origin of antibiotics after its academics developed the use of penicillin in the 1940s. .
Researchers will seek to develop new medicines for animals and humans, as well as to promote more responsible use of the antibiotics available to us, following an increase in antibiotic-resistant “superbugs”.
It is estimated that by 2050, up to 10 million deaths each year could be caused by antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs that are no longer effective in treating common illnesses.
Oxford Vice Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson said immediate action to resolve the problem was “imperative” as she warned it would be “cataclysmic” for surgeries if the infection could not be avoided with antibiotics.
“I think the pandemic has shown us the extraordinarily high costs if you ignore a problem that is potentially heading your way.
“We certainly knew there was a great potential for another pandemic, we were reminded time and time again, and yet we were caught off guard.
“We know that human antibiotics are declining each year due to the growth of resistance, so it is absolutely imperative that we take action, and the impact of not being prepared for the pandemic, I think. , reinforces the importance of acting before it is too much. late.”
“Every time you have surgery the biggest risk is infection, so you take an antibiotic to prevent that.
“Imagine if you couldn’t prevent infection it would be cataclysmic for so many surgeries,” she warned.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, founder and chairman of Ineos, said he was “delighted” to partner with the university “to accelerate progress in solving this urgent global challenge”.
Professor Richardson said the donation to the university was “wonderfully generous” and added that he found “quite appropriate” that Oxford should be “at the forefront” in the search for resistance to antimicrobials after the institution’s work on penicillin in the last century that saved millions of lives.
The university plans to have more than 50 postdoctoral researchers at the Ineos Oxford Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance over the next five years, alongside a number of doctoral students.