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DBT to begin research on antimicrobial resistance under Grand Challenges India initiative

Our Bureau, Mumbai
Monday, April 16, 2018, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

Even as antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is becoming a growing threat to public health in India and elsewhere in the world, the Department of Biotechnology (DBT) will soon begin research in this field under the Grand Challenges India initiative. The programme is directed at addressing challenges that in tackling antimicrobial resistance in India and in comparable geographies.

This programme aims at encouraging innovation in tackling AMR under three specific categories: solutions for better use of surveillance data to achieve actionable results, innovations in products and technologies to break infection cycles in healthcare settings and to remove antibiotics from effluents.

Now, the DBT has called research proposals that are exploratory or seek to develop proof of concept in three areas, specifically solutions for surveillance, low-cost technologies and products that will improve infection prevention in healthcare settings and technologies that will remove antibiotics/antimicrobials from effluents. Proposals must provide a strong rationale for the work proposed, demonstrating a clear understanding of India’s context and needs, and present a defined hypothesis and associated plan for how the idea would be tested or validated.

The programme is open to academics, research institutions, medical research institutions, for-profit companies, not-for-profit organizations, trusts and foundations. Last date for submission of proposals is May 25, 2018.

Under the Grand Challenges India initiative, the DBT and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2012, where both parties agreed to collaborate on scientific and technological research to alleviate some of the world’s most critical global health and development issues, for the benefit of the people of India and other developing countries.  This partnership seeks to identify opportunities to initiate and promote scientific and technological research in the country, to provide India-specific solutions for the country, which can then be adapted for use in other developing countries. Specifically, the partnership focuses on encouraging research and exploring avenues to reduce maternal and child mortality and morbidity; developing scientific and technical solutions for infectious diseases; strengthening India’s scientific translation capacity; developing scientific and technical advances related to agriculture, food and nutrition, among others.

The DBT's initiative in this regard is important as AMR is a growing threat to public health, and in the last few years has begun receiving attention from the research and medical communities with increased thrust and funding being made available for R&D in this space. However, AMR is a broad umbrella term and comprises of several aspects across different disciplines such as drug discovery, diagnostics, surveillance, antimicrobial stewardship in humans and animals, antibiotics in the environment among others.  Therefore, tackling AMR requires efforts across themes and disciplines.

The government of India with its associated bodies has undertaken several programs to fund R&D such as through ICMR, DBT among others in a variety of fields, including research in drug discovery, diagnostics development, repurposing of old drugs and setting up surveillance networks. However, there are still areas that will benefit from targeted funding, such as surveillance, prevention of infections and environmental AMR.


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