A £1.5 million donation will drive joint research into antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by scientists in the UK and Japan.

Antimicrobial resistance poses a huge problem in healthcare, risking modern medicine becoming ineffective. This could lead to common infections becoming deadly illnesses.

Attendees from the Future of Antibiotics, Joint Japan UK Science and Policy workshop, 4-5 March 2024, Tokyo, Japan

Attendees from the Future of Antibiotics, Joint Japan UK Science and Policy workshop, 4-5 March 2024, Tokyo, Japan

The need for pandemic preparedness and adoption of policy for sustainable anti-infective medical countermeasures is now well recognised. Action is needed, not only to discover new antimicrobials to tackle the antimicrobial resistance pandemic but to train the next generation of researchers. A systematic, global approach will be needed to address this challenge for humanity.

Now, thanks to visionary philanthropy from The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, which encourages innovative research between Japan and the UK, and The Sir Howard Dalton Centre at The University of Warwick, the research can progress at pace.

Tackling AMR

The Sir Howard Dalton Centre interacts deeply with current and emerging major international initiatives including the Monash Warwick Alliance investment in tackling AMR. The strength of research collaboration achieved through the Monash Warwick Alliance has provided a blueprint for future international partnerships and has been one of the catalysts to enable Warwick to build new and exciting joint research programmes.

The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation seeks to promote mutual understanding and cooperation between the UK and Japan through financial support for activities which include science, technology, medicine and health. The Sir Howard Dalton Centre is a network of academics driving research into antimicrobial resistance, named after the late Sir Howard Dalton – a hugely influential microbiologist.

The funding announcement builds upon the Hiroshima Accord, a global strategic partnership between the UK and Japan, which has primed opportunities for collaborations across academic institutions, industry, philanthropy and government agencies in both nations.

Supporting policymaking

The Institute of Development Studies, a research organisation affiliated with the University of Sussex, will lead a complementary strand of work to support policymaking which can strengthen the development of new antibiotics, especially those addressing the needs of the global poor.

To showcase this progress, representatives and academics from both the UK and Japan attended a science and policy workshop in Tokyo, developing joint projects and wider programs of research to forge further synergy for discovery, and training researchers in antimicrobial resistance and pandemic preparedness.  The workshop culminated in a reception at the British Embassy in Tokyo.

Professor Christopher Dowson, Director, The Sir Howard Dalton Centre, University of Warwick, said: “Global cross sectoral international partnerships will become increasingly important as together we help tackle the development of new antimicrobials. The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation has enabled an exciting first step in this journey, priming collaborative programs of research and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) discovery policy between UK and Japan partners.”

Antibiotic discovery

Joanna Pitman, Vice Chair, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, said: “The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation is delighted to be working with the University of Warwick on this important UK-Japan collaboration addressing the critical global health implications of AMR. Japan and the UK both have extensive capabilities in antibiotic discovery, drawing on complementary research strengths across academia, industry, and national infrastructure. Given the acknowledged shortcomings of the existing economic model in incentivising antibiotic discovery and development, there is an urgent need for new international collaborations that will endure over the long term. We look forward to a productive partnership.”

Dr. Norio Ohmagari, Deputy Director General of Center Hospital, National Center for Global Health and Medicine (NCGM), said: “Promoting research and development in AMR is a pressing global issue. The problem can no longer be managed by the efforts of one country alone. In this context, it was decided to train personnel to promote joint research between British and Japanese researchers, who have a long history and experience in the development of antimicrobials. We sincerely hope that this move will spread and eventually lead to a revitalisation and further progress in AMR research and development itself in the world.”

Professor Dame Sally Davies GCB DBE, UK Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance, added: “‘I am delighted to hear that Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation have decided to fund two Fellowships for the UK and Japan to collaborate on AMR Policy and am honoured to have one of them bearing my name.  I hope that this will open the doors to greater international collaboration and look forward to meeting the first Fellows later this year.”

To find out more about the research area go to https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/cross_fac/howard-dalton-centre/