Scientists at Imperial have outlined how they can combat the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) with the public’s help.

In this film Professor Alison Holmes (above), Director of the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance at Imperial College London, explains why AMR research is important and how the public can get involved.

A 2014 government review by economist Jim O’Neill estimated that failing to tackle antimicrobial resistance will result in at least 10 million extra deaths a year by 2050 – more than the number of people who currently die from cancer.

It occurs when microorganisms are able to survive exposure to antimicrobial medicines such as antibiotics that would normally kill them or stop their growth. This results in the drugs no longer working to treat infections.  When microorganisms become resistant to most antimicrobials they are known as superbugs.

AMR is accelerated by the inappropriate use of antimicrobial medicines, incorrect prescribing and poor infection control practices.

Research at Imperial to address AMR and other public health issues such as tuberculosis (TB) and influenza was showcased to guests at an open event at Hammersmith Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, in March.

Visitors ranging from members of the public to staff at Imperial and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust had the chance to view a range of displays showcasing work carried out by researchers from the three NIHR HPRUs in Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance, Respiratory Infections, and Modelling Methodology.

The three HPRUs that are based at Imperial were set up in April 2014, following funding from the NIHR. The units, partnered by Public Health England (PHE), provide centres of excellence in multi-disciplinary health protection research.

More of Imperial’s health protection research will be on display in a dedicated superbugs zone at this year’s Imperial Festival, which takes place on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 May 2015.