Ways to talk about AMR / Powerful new insights into messages that do (and do NOT) work

Dear All:

Verbatim comments from interviews with 12,000 people in Germany, India, Japan, Kenya, the UK, the USA and Thailand:

  • India: “[Antimicrobial resistance] is quite normal, no big thing, like malaria. It’s on a personal level, if you take antibiotics, your resistance will be on [the] lower side. If you are fit, your body resistance is more.”
  • Germany: “Air pollution is something that is more global for everybody and, with antibiotic resistance, there are just a certain number of people that are affected.”
  • US: “I think antibiotic resistance is an issue, but I think we have at least ten, twenty years before it becomes, like, a huge enough problem, that affects a lot of people.”
  • Kenya: It doesn’t affect everybody.”

Oh no, Mr. Bill! We are all familiar with the difficulty of communicating the complexity of AMR, but these quotes are pretty depressing.

But, perhaps this is not a surprise given the complexity of these ideas and the diversity of messages that have been used. Consider this UK media map in which each node in the network represents one UK news item during a 12-month period, with the nodes grouped by key topic. It’s great to see that there were a lot of stories, but the lay public is confused by the more than 20 different headline topics (some of which are pretty technical):

Picture

To address this problem, Wellcome Trust have undertaken an enormous research project with the aim of finding better ways for all of us to talk. You can find the full report here (the map just above is from page 12 of the report), but a brief orientation may help you digest the materials more easily.

The key finding is that there are universal themes that resonate across countries. Five key principles for communicators when talking to the public about antimicrobial resistance were identified:

  1. Frame antimicrobial resistance as undermining modern medicine
  2. Explain the fundamentals succinctly
  3. Emphasize that this is a universal issue; it affects everyone, including you
  4. Focus on the here and now
  5. Encourage immediate action

Based on these universal themes, the report (jump to page 30 of the full report for this material) suggests this headline narrative will quickly interest listeners in all countries:

  • Common infections and injuries that were once easily treatable are becoming more dangerous and killing once again. This is because of drug-resistant infections which are undermining modern medicine.

Follow this quick message, the most effective next step is this 5-part story that step-wise applies the 5 key principles noted above:

  • Infections become drug-resistant when the bacteria that cause them adapt and change over time, developing the ability to resist the drugs designed to kill them.
  • The result is that many drugs – like antibiotics – are becoming less effective at treating illnesses. Our overuse of antibiotics in both humans and animals is speeding up this process.
  • Without working antibiotics, routine surgery like hip replacements, common illnesses like diarrhoea, and minor injuries from accidents, even including cuts, can become life-threatening.
  • People are already dying from drug-resistant infections, and as more drugs stop working, more lives will be put in danger. Drug-resistant infections can affect anyone; we are all at risk of infections from drug-resistant bacteria.
  • We can solve this problem. By taking action now to develop new drugs, and to make sure the drugs we already have stay effective, we can protect ourselves, our families and our communities.

This is an impressive piece of work … many thanks to Team Wellcome for making it happen. I encourage everybody to read the report and start using these messages consistently.

Finally, I know that Team Wellcome would be pleased to answer questions or to hear ideas for tools that would be useful to you. The team can be reached at DrugResistantInfections@wellcome.ac.uk.

All best wishes, –jr

John H. Rex, MD | Chief Medical Officer, F2G Ltd. | Expert-in-Residence, Wellcome Trust. Follow me on Twitter: @JohnRex_NewAbx. See past newsletters and subscribe for the future: http://amr.solutions/blog/

Upcoming meetings of interest to the AMR community:

  • 4 Nov 2019 (FDA, White Oak): Public hearing on FDA’s proposed rules for “Use of Fecal Microbiota for Transplantation to Treat Clostridioides (Clostridium) difficile.” Go here for the online FR notice and here for the .pdf version.
  • 7 Nov 2019 (webinar, 17:00-18:30 CEST): REVIVE webinar entitled “Converting Gram-positive-only compounds into broad-spectrum antibiotics.” Go here to register.
  • 12-19 Nov 2019 (cyberspace): CARB-X Funding Round 4 is open for Expressions of Interest (EOIs). Go here for details. This round is limited to new classes and/or new targets in early development phases (hit-to-lead through Phase 1) targeting a specific list of Gram-negative pathogens (see link, but in brief is Carbapenem-resistant AbauPae, E’bacteriaceae as well as FQ-R Salmonella, Shigella, and Neisseria.
  • 14-15 Nov 2019 (Hamilton, Ontario): “Fueling the Fight Against Antimicrobial Resistance”, a 2-day Gairdner Foundation-sponsored symposium in collaboration with the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research and the David Braley Centre for Antibiotic Discovery at McMaster University. Go here for details.
  • 18-19 Nov 2019 (FDA, White Oak Campus): FDA-IDSA-NIAID-Pew-sponsored workshop: “Enhancing the Clinical Trial Enterprise for Antibacterial Drug Development in the United States.” Mark your calendar now, details to follow.
  • 19 Nov 2019 (London): BSAC seminar entitled “Into clinical practice: Meeting the challenges of Gram-negative infection management”. A one-day conference on treatments for Gram-negative infections. Go here for details.
  • [NEW] 26 Nov 2019 (webinar, 9:30-11:00 CET): REVIVE webinar entitled “Innovation in point-of-care diagnostics for sepsis and bloodstream infections.” Go here to register.
  • 28-29 Nov 2019 (Birmingham, UK): BSAC workshop entitled “ARM (Antibiotic Resistance & Mechanisms)”. This meeting is a research forum for UK-based researchers at all levels, including PhD students and technicians. Go here for details.
  • [NEW] 5 Dec 2019 (Monthey, Switzerland): The BioArk technology park is holding a one-day workshop on AMR. Entitled “The Ark Life Sciences Series #1”, you can get more details here.
  • 16-18 Dec 2019 (Bangkok, Thailand): 3rd International Symposium on Alternatives to Antibiotics in Animal Production. Go here for details: https://www.ars.usda.gov/alternativestoantibiotics/
  • 21 Jan 2020 (London): BSAC’s 2nd Antimicrobial Chemotherapy Conference – An ABC for everyone involved in developing new antimicrobials. Go here for details.
  • 20 Feb 2020 (London, UK): Westminster Health Forum conference entitled “Antimicrobial resistance – coordinating a global response and progress on the UK strategy.” Go here for details.
  • 26-27 Feb 2020 (Washington, DC): US PACCARB public meeting. Go here for details.
  • 1-6 Mar 2020 (Il Ciocco, Tuscany, Italy): GRC on Antibacterial Discovery and Development: “Now is the time to re-boot antibiotic R&D before it’s too little, too late.” Go here for details.
  • 12-13 Mar 2020 (Basel, I’m told): BEAM-, Novo REPAIR-, CARB-X-, DZIF-, ND4BB-, ENABLE-supported (among a long list!) Conference on Novel Antimicrobials and AMR Diagnostics. Final location is TBD, details will appear here, and you should mark your calendar now. 
  • 16-17 Mar 2020 (London): BSAC Spring Conference entitled: “Bridging the gap between science, policy and effective antimicrobial use.” Go here for details. 
  • 18-21 Apr 2020 (Paris): Annual ECCMID meeting (#30)
  • 25-30 May 2020 (Rotterdam), Annual ESPID meeting (European Society for Pediatric ID, #38)
  • 10-13 Apr 2021 (Vienna): Annual ECCMID meeting (#31)
  • 1-4 Sep 2020 (Dublin): Annual ASM-ESCMID Conference on Antibiotic Development #5! Mark your calendar now and go here for details.
  • 9-10 Sep 2020 (Washington, DC): US PACCARB public meeting. Go here for details.

Dear All,
 
The IDWeek 2024 program committee is again seeking programs on novel antimicrobial agents and novel diagnostics for presentation in pipeline sessions! Here’s what is sought:

  • “Industry partners are invited to submit antimicrobials that are in preclinical stages of development (Phase II and III preferred) or recently approved after January 2024.
  • “The pipeline sessions will include antibacterials, antifungals, and antivirals (excluding COVID-19 and HIV).
  • “The committee also invites companies developing novel diagnostic technologies with a minimum of some preliminary proof of concept data to submit.” 

This is a great opportunity to tell the story of your development project! The deadline to submit is Wednesday, June 26 via the application portal. Any questions should be directed to program@idsociety.org. Please share this email with anyone you think might be interested in applying!
 
In addition, I’ll also note that those with a more general story to tell should look at the BugHub Stage (and the Global BugHub stage). Both BugHub variants seek “presentations that touch on your experience of working in infectious diseases and presentations that ultimately lead to a greater understanding of our diverse field” via a TED Talk-esque speech about your work. The deadline for applications is 26 June, the same as for the pipeline sessions.

I look forward to seeing you there! All best wishes, –jr

John H. Rex, MD | Chief Medical Officer, F2G Ltd. | Operating Partner, Advent Life Sciences. Follow me on Twitter: @JohnRex_NewAbx. See past newsletters and subscribe for the future: https://amr.solutions/blog/. All opinions are my own.

John’s Top Recurring Meetings

Virtual meetings are easy to attend, but regular attendance at annual in-person events is the key to building your network and gaining deeper insight. My personal favorites for such in-person meetings are below. Of particular value for developers are the AMR Conference and the ASM-ESCMID conference. Hope to see you there!

  • 27-30 April 2024 (Barcelona, Spain): 34th ECCMID, the annual meeting of the European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. Go here for details. 
  • 17-20 Sep 2024 (Porto, Portugal): ASM/ESCMID Joint Conference on Drug Development to Meet the Challenge of Antimicrobial Resistance. Go here for the meeting’s general website. You can’t register (yet) for the 2024 event, but save the date!
  • 16-20 Oct 2024 (Los Angeles, USA): IDWeek 2024, the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Save the date! More details to come!
  • 25-26 February 2025 (Basel, Switzerland): The 9th AMR Conference 2025. Go here to register

Upcoming meetings of interest to the AMR community:

  • [NEW]  9 Apr 2024 (virtual, 830a-10a ET): GARDP’s next REVIVE webinar entitled “Progressing a discovery project – Criteria and challenges.” Register here.
  • [NEW] 9 Apr 2024 (virtual, 10a-1130a ET): CDC webinar “Impacts of Antimicrobial Resistance on Cancer Care.” Click here for details and to register.
  • 10-11 Apr 2024 (virtual): Sepsis Alliance AMR Conference, a 2-day conference focused on “Practical technologies to manage sepsis and counteract the expanding challenge of antimicrobial resistance.” Go here for details and to register.
  • 26 Apr 2024 (Barcelona, Spain): ESCMID workshop entitled “Using Data Science and Machine Learning for Infection Science: A Hands-on Introduction.” Click here to register or here for more details. 
  • 27-30 April 2024 (Barcelona, Spain): 34th ECCMID, the annual meeting of the European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases. See Recurring Meetings list, above.
  • 26-31 May 2024 (Montreal, Canada): EDAR7, the McGill AMR Centre’s 7th edition of their Environmental Dimension of Antimicrobial Resistance conference. Go here for details; final abstract deadline is 21 Dec 2023.
  • 28-29 May 2024 (in person, Uppsala, Sweden): Uppsala Antibiotic Days, a broad-ranging 2-day program hosted by the Uppsala Antibiotic Center. Go here for details and to register.
  • [NEW] 30-31 May 2024 (face-to-face in Rockville, Maryland as well as online, 8.30-5.30p ET on 30 May, 9-2.40p on 31 May): NIAID-sponsored workshop entitled “Towards realizing the promise of adjunctive immune therapy for invasive fungal infections”. The agenda covers host immunity to invasive fungal infections, immune modulators in the context of fungal infections; and strategies for testing immune modulators as adjunctive therapy. Go here for more details and to register.
  • 9-13 June 2024 (in person, Ascona, Switzerland): “New Approaches to Combat Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, 2nd Edition” is a Sunday-Thursday residential workshop focused on the deep biology of AMR. Sponsored by NCCR AntiResist (a Swiss National Science Foundation consortium), the scientific program has the feel of a Gordon Conference. Space is limited, so you are encouraged to apply promptly — go here for details.
  • 13-17 June 2024 (Atlanta, Georgia): ASM Microbe, the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. You can’t register yet, but you can go here for general details.
  • 17-20 Sep 2024 (Porto, Portugal): ASM/ESCMID Joint Conference on Drug Development to Meet the Challenge of Antimicrobial Resistance. See Recurring Meetings list, above.
  • 16-20 Oct 2024 (Los Angeles, USA): IDWeek 2024, the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. See Recurring Meetings list, above. 
  • 19-27 Oct 2024 (Annecy, France, residential in-person program): ICARe (Interdisciplinary Course on Antibiotics and Resistance). Now in its 8th year, Patrice Courvalin directs the program with the support of an all-star scientific committee and faculty. The resulting soup-to-nuts training covers all aspects of antimicrobials, is very intense, and routinely gets rave reviews! Seating is limited, so mark your calendars now if you are interested. Applications open in March 2024 — go here for more details.
  • 4-5 Dec 2024 (in person, Washington, DC): “Fungal Dx 2024: Fungal Diagnostics in Clinical Practice” is a 2-day in-person workshop organized by ISHAM‘s Fungal Diagnostics Working Group. The program and registration links are available at https://fungaldx.com/; the agenda is comprehensive and features an all-star global list of speakers.

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