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Funding the future of antibiotics research

Antibiotics that no longer treat infection are a real and ever-growing threat to human health worldwide.

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Now that the drugs don’t always work, the Medical Research Foundation has found a way to respond. We’re investing £2.85 million to fund the first UK-wide PhD Training Programme dedicated to antimicrobial resistance to train scientists to explore new ways to beat bacterial infection.

As ‘World Antibiotic Awareness Week’ unfolds, the Foundation’s Training Programme Team is gearing up to start recruitment of the first PhD students to the Programme.

Dr Angela Hind, Medical Research Foundation Director says: “We’ll be looking for agile thinkers, people motivated by a need to know and who are ready to find new ways to solve the antibiotic resistance puzzle. They’ll join a cohort of PhD students who’ll receive training in multiple research disciplines. We don’t know where the solution to antibiotic resistance will come from so we’ve made our PhD Training Programme multidisciplinary to give students the widest possible set of ideas and skills to draw on.”

The Foundation is working alongside the University of Bristol to deliver the PhD Training Programme in AMR. In total 16 universities around the UK will host 18 students.

Dr Matthew Avison is academic lead: “We want to equip PhD scientists with the skills and multidisciplinary thinking to tackle one of the biggest challenges in medical research today. We’re looking forward to recruiting the first students and building a community that can explore antimicrobial resistance together.”

The interdisciplinary PhD projects will each focus on one of four themes; understanding resistant bacteria, speeding up the search for new therapies, how real-world interactions affect resistance or the influence of human behavior within and beyond healthcare settings. A further 150 PhD students working in antimicrobial resistance will be invited to join in training events.

Applications will shortly be invited for 18 fully-funded 4-year PhD studentships to start in September 2018. PhD projects will be available for excellent candidates with backgrounds in the social sciences, humanities, life sciences, biomedical and veterinary sciences, physical sciences and engineering.

The Medical Research Foundation hopes to continue to build capacity by working with other research funders to co-fund PhD students who’ll begin studying in 2019 and 2020.

Prof Nick Lemoine, Medical Research Foundation Chair, says: “Antimicrobial resistance is too big a threat not to explore, we’re proud that the Medical Research Foundation is taking the lead by training the next generation of researchers and we’re keen to hear from other funders who’d like to explore working together to fund the next student intake.”

If you are interested in funding the future leaders in medical research with the Medical Research Foundation, through our PhD Training Programme in AMR, please contact Lisa Robinson on 020 7395 2371 or email

If you would like to apply for one of the PhD studentships, please keep an eye on the recruitment page hosted by the University of Bristol