EPIC and bioMérieux bring leading researchers together for symposium on antimicrobial resistance
A smiling woman with a grey sweater and a smiling man wearing a toque and blue coat

EPIC member Rob Kozak moderates a panel discussion with (left to right) Kevin Schwartz and EPIC members Nikki Weckman and Karen Maxwell.

November 29

By Betty Zou

On November 23, the University of Toronto’s Emerging and Pandemic Infections Consortium (EPIC) partnered with diagnostics industry leader bioMérieux Canada to jointly host a research symposium on Canadian perspectives on antimicrobial resistance: where we are now and looking ahead

The hybrid event took place during the 2022 World Antimicrobial Awareness Week and had over 450 registered attendees.

The theme of this year’s World Antimicrobial Awareness Week, “Preventing Antimicrobial Awareness Together”, was reflected in the breadth of the programming, which included 12 speakers from across Canada. EPIC members Susan Poutanen, Karen Maxwell and Nikki Weckman were among the invited speakers. From the clinical perspectives of frontline pharmacists and medical microbiologists to the research advances shared by fundamental researchers, the talks highlighted a need for collaborative, interdisciplinary approaches to tackling this urgent global health challenge.

Several speakers underscored the importance of addressing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) through a One Health lens. One Health is an approach that recognizes that the health of humans is closely connected to the health of animals, plants and ecosystems in our shared environments. Given the use of antimicrobials in livestock farming, crop spraying and aquaculture, new tools and interventions that aim to reduce antimicrobial usage and prevent AMR must also be applicable in those settings to achieve the greatest impact.

There was also a shared sense of urgency among the speakers and attendees to raise the profile AMR as in the public consciousness. Creative solutions are needed to increase awareness and action not only in  individuals and healthcare professionals, but also in policymakers to boost support for research and measures to tackle AMR and implement policies to limit its impact.

With drug-resistant microbes predicted to kill nearly 400,000 Canadians and cost the economy about $400 billion by 2050, EPIC members are making strides in the fight against AMR by advancing our understanding of how resistance develops and creating rapid, point-of-care tests to diagnose infections and AMR.