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Cambridge Infectious Diseases

An Interdisciplinary Research Centre at the University of Cambridge

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Cambridge infectious diseases reaches out to the next generation of scientists

The increasing spread of antibiotic resistance is major global health problem, with a recent report by the Chief Medical Officer Sally Davies, referring to it as an ‘apocalyptic scenario’. More research is urgently needed, both in the development of new antibiotics, and in monitoring the spread of drug resistant strains.

A Cambridge Infectious Diseases’ fellow has been promoting this area of research to the next generation of scientists. Dr EwanEwan School Harrison, a post doc in the Department of Veterinary Medicine, has recently visited secondary schools in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire to talk about the threat of antibiotic resistance to public health and explain the types of research currently undertaken in the Departments of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, using the latest genome sequencing technology to track and prevent Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in hospitals as well as to understand the movement of MRSA between livestock and humans.

Ewan Quote“Antibiotic resistance is a really important problem, and I think it is really important for active researchers in this area to be able to explain its biology, causes and potential implications directly to the next-generation of potential scientists. It also great to be able to explain how scientists in Cambridge are trying to help solve this problem using the latest technology” explains Dr Harrison. “It’s also important to show that infection research isn’t limited to those with biology degrees. Computer scientists, mathematicians etc. are now an integral part of current research”.

Mr Morrow, Head of Science at the Ormiston Ilkeston Academy remarked, “The students benefited greatly from listening to Dr Harrison talk about his research. This rare opportunity brings the theory to life and allows the students to engage with Science at a higher level. It also allows them to see the current applications of the topics that they are studying in school, and will hopefully be a motivation for them to pursue a career in science. Following Dr Harrison's visit to school the students regularly refer to his research during their lessons, showing that the visit has had a long term impact on the students.”

Ewan Harrison is the recipient of one of four Cambridge Infectious Disease fellowships awarded to enable early career researchers to undertake outreach and develop their own initiatives within the CID community.