MSU hosts international antibiotic resistance researchers at conference

From Aug. 13-17, antibiotic resistance experts from around the globe gathered at Michigan State University for the fourth International Symposium on the Environmental Dimension of Antibiotic Resistance.

August 28, 2017 -

Ramanan Laxminarayan

From Aug. 13-17, antibiotic resistance experts from around the globe gathered at Michigan State University (MSU) for the fourth International Symposium on the Environmental Dimension of Antibiotic Resistance (EDAR).

The vexing subject has been studied for decades, but disturbing new human health, environmental and agricultural findings have vaulted the problem to the fore in public and governmental forums.

James Tiedje, the director of the MSU Center for Microbial Ecology and a University Distinguished Professor, appreciates the urgency with which scientists are approaching antibiotic resistance.

“Multidrug-resistant pathogens are a great cause for concern all over the world,” said Tiedje, who is also the EDAR conference chair for 2017. “This conference brings together leading minds that will help us create mitigation strategies. We need to better define the scope of the problem. We know it’s a significant challenge that requires action.”

Throughout the five-day symposium, over a dozen keynote speakers shared research outcomes and posed questions to the 250 attendees from 31 countries.

Among the presenters was Ramanan Laxminarayan, the director of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy in Washington D.C. One of the foremost experts on antibiotic resistance, Laxminarayan has used his considerable reach and influence to bring the conundrum to the immediate attention of policy makers.

Joakim Larsson, a professor in environmental pharmacology at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, also presented alongside many experts, especially from Europe and Asia.

Larsson leads the Centre for Antibiotic Resistance Research at the university, one of the world’s largest entities of its kind. His team of more than 20 scientists explores the impacts of antibiotics and their fate in the environment. Multiple members of Larsson’s group spoke at EDAR.

“Ramanan and Joakim are just two of the many wonderful researchers we had the pleasure to hear this week, and we’re so thankful they traveled to MSU,” Tiedje said. “Having a collection of knowledge as formidable as this at MSU shows that we’re on the frontlines in dealing with this problem. We also have many researchers on campus doing innovative work that is getting shared with the larger scientific community, which is of tremendous benefit to all of our work around the world.”

The conference’s first day focused on advances in antibiotic resistance and scientists’ increased understanding of the problem. The second and third days were spent discussing the development of new strategies to combat antibiotic resistance in various areas such as agriculture, fish-farming, sewage effluent and antibiotic manufacturing facilities, all of which can disseminate antibiotic resistant microbes.

The presentations concluded with the human health implications — overall impact, risk assessment, new policy direction and more.

Tiedje added: “This is a global problem for which all must work together. A multidrug-resistant human pathogen is only a plane ride away.”

To learn more about the conference, visit www.antibiotic-resistance.de.


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