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Tackling Anti-Microbial Resistance at APC Microbiome Ireland

Isolation plate for the antimicrobial Thuricin CD

Applications are now being sought for a new postgraduate programme in the area of resistance to antibiotics (antimicrobial resistance/AMR), a global health challenge where the expert knowledge of the SFI Research Centre APC Microbiome Ireland is making an impact.

Broad spectrum antibiotics, when used appropriately, save lives. But they can also damage the normal bacteria that are resident in our gut, thereby reducing the diversity of the gut microbiome, with consequent health issues. Misuse of antibiotics also leads to the development of antibiotic resistance in non-target bacterial species with significant implications for human health.  APC Microbiome Ireland is at the forefront of trying to understand the impact of antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance on the microbiome and in developing new treatments to replace broad spectrum antibiotics. These include narrow spectrum antimicrobials derived from bacteria and viruses in the gut, as well live bacteria, bacteriophages (viruses which kill bacteria), fungi and faecal microbiota transplants.

Resistance to antibiotics poses serious challenges for Irish and other national health systems.

Each year more than 700,000 people across the world die from infections that are resistant to current antibiotics, and by 2050 drug-resistant infections will take an estimated 10 million lives per year1.  The economic cost of lost global production caused by antimicrobial resistance will amount to approximately $100 trillion between now and 2050 if it is not tackled.

Ireland has a relatively high rate of antimicrobial resistance in human health compared to most European countries, and ranks above the EU average for consumption of antibiotics in the community2. Carbapenemase-producing enterobacteriaceae (CPE) was declared a public health emergency in Ireland on 25th of October 20173. CPE is a superbug that is resistant to most or all antibiotics.  It can be carried in the bowel and can cause blood stream infection in people who are vulnerable, such as the elderly and those with low immunity.

“The increasing number of bacterial species resistant to antibiotics is both inevitable and predictable, so with increasing amounts of data we can and must start to plan for the future and to develop new strategies to prevent the spread of AMR, and alternative therapeutics to treat antimicrobial resistant infections” said Fergus Shanahan, Director of APC Microbiome Ireland, and Chief Clinical Director of the HSE South/Southwest Hospital Group.

“In addition to minimising unnecessary and inappropriate use, the public needs to know that broad spectrum antibiotics damage beneficial as well as harmful bacteria. Moreover, mobilising the microbiome will have a central role in future strategies against infections.”

Full details of the new programme can be seen at   The closing date for receipt of applications is 23.59 Friday 2nd March 2018.


1.Tackling drug-resistant infections globally: Final report and recommendations.London, UK: Wellcome Trust and UK Department of Health; 2016. Review on Antimicrobial Resistance

2.Summary of the latest data on antibiotic consumption in the European Union. Nov 2017. /portal /files/documents/Final_2017_EAAD_ESAC-Net_Summary-edited%20-%20FINALwith%20erratum.pdf

3.Public health Emergency plan to tackle CPE