Antimicrobial Resistance

AMR DxC Winter School Blog

Up to date information from the Winter School

Blog text from Lucy Everitt. Pictures are from Till Bachmann, Beth Mills, Holger Schulze, Chien-Yu Lin and Gyorgy Abel

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Informal welcome of the delegates at Summerhall


Day 1 - Monday, 20 February 2017

The first day of the AMR DxC Winter School was centred around setting the scene for the potential use of rapid AMR diagnostic tools to use as a cornerstone technique in the tackling of the imposing global threat of AMR. Till Bachmann (University of Edinburgh, UK) kicked off the day’s proceedings by presenting an informative and thought provoking session regarding forefront rapid diagnostic testing research being undertaken by his own research group in Edinburgh and placing this in the context of the current AMR global crisis, as well as introducing the AMR DxC competition. This session was followed by a challenging and enjoyable ice breaker session undertaken by the participants in order to establish the foundations for successful connectivity and group problem solving. Following a short break, Kate Templeton (Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, UK) furthered Till’s introduction of rapid diagnostic testing technology being developed in Edinburgh by presenting her own research regarding molecular diagnostic implementation in a clinical setting. The penultimate session of the day consisted of a brainstorming session with the aim of highlighting the current problems facing the field of rapid diagnostics to tackle the problem of rising AMR.
Finally, the day was concluded with the introduction by Till Bachmann of the AMR DxC pilot exercise. Five teams were then assembled, with each team consisting of members representing both developed and developing countries (to encourage international collaboration) and from interdisciplinary fields under the leadership of a team mentor. Groups were then asked to consider and discuss the pilot exercise: to develop an innovative project idea to tackle AMR within a 4-6 month timeline and with a hypothetical starter budget of £6000. It was outlined that the project proposal must consider diagnostics as a tool to address AMR but may do so by taking any interdisciplinary approach, such as a scientific approach (e.g. biomarker discovery), a technological approach (e.g. proposing an idea for a new rapid diagnostic test), policy making, increasing awareness within the scientific community as well as the general public etc. At the end of the week, the participants were tasked with presenting their proposed projects to a panel of AMR DxC experts. 



Day 2 - Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Day two of the DxC Winter School began with a thought provoking presentation by Louise Horsfall (University of Edinburgh, UK) on the synthetic biology iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) competition. The presentation drew many parallels between the iGEM and AMR DxC competitions, such as the importance of international and interdisciplinary collaboration to generate creative solutions to tackle biological issues. A following presentation by 2016 iGEM Edinburgh team member Freddie Starkey (University of Edinburgh, UK) regarding his team’s iGEM project which proposes the use DNA as a sustainable tool to successfully store the ever-increasing production of data acted as an inspiring projection for the future of the projects being designed by the AMR DxC participants and the future of the AMR DxC Winter School itself.

The day’s events continued with AMR diagnostic presentations delivered by Adam Stokes (University of Edinburgh, UK) and Mark Bradley (University of Edinburgh, UK) on microfluidics and polymer microarray technology respectively, which provided an interesting insight into the technological development of AMR diagnostics taking place right here in Edinburgh. Alice Street’s presentation (University of Edinburgh, UK) provided the participants with an alternative perspective to the problem of AMR by calling for the development of diagnostic infrastructures to tackle AMR in a holistic fashion. Xinyi Wan (University of Edinburgh, UK) then gave the penultimate presentation of the day, which built upon the morning’s address of the potential use of synthetic biology in the field of AMR diagnostics by presenting the use of synthetic biology enabling next generation biosensors for contaminants and pathogens. The day’s talks were concluded by Beth Mill’s (University of Edinburgh, UK) presentation regarding her work on developing technology aiming to visualise bacteria in human lungs. The overarching concluding message  of the day’s widely varying presentation topics delivered by an equally varying panel of interdisciplinary experts was the importance of considering the tackling of AMR holistically: by developing molecular diagnostic tools as well as developing diagnostic infrastructures to support their proper implementation. The day came to a close with participants working within their teams to further develop their AMR DxC project proposals.

day 2_0

Day 3 - Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Day three of the AMR DxC Winter School took a different format from the previous two days. The morning’s session began with a series of staggered tours of the laboratories situated in the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. The tours gave the participants an invaluable insight into the current technologies being clinically utilised by the hospital regarding antimicrobial detection and sensitivity, as well as the AMR diagnostic research being developed in the Medical School’s Division of Infection and Pathway Medicine. The morning’s sessions were brought to a close with a presentation by Robert Hammond (University of St. Andrews, UK) on his research group’s development of their antimicrobial diagnostic technology, SLIC.

Following the transfer to the historical Old Medical School in the bustling city centre, the day’s focus on up-and-coming diagnostic technologies and their applications was continued by a series of presentations. Speakers presented the importance of Intellectual Property and patent acquisition (Chapman), MiniFab’s process to ensure business success for technological designers by further developing and manufacturing real world solutions and products using micro, nano and biotechnologies (Micah Atkins, MiniFab, UK), the exciting and novel point of care diagnostic for multi-pathogen detection and AMR sensitivity tool under development, titled Q-POC (Johnathon O’Halloran, Quantum Dx), and finally, the application of the use of nanopore sequencing as an AMR diagnostic tool (Oliver Hartwell, Oxford Nanopore, UK). The time spent at the Old Medical School was rounded off with an enjoyable tour of the University’s Anatomy Museum.

The day’s proceedings continued in the university’s iconic Old College Playfair library with one of the highlights of the week, the Longitude Prize Event. The event led by experts in the field reiterated the prevalence of AMR worldwide and the multifactorial response needed to tackle AMR, as well as introducing the Longitude Prize and its potential to progress the field of point of care AMR diagnostics. Following the Longitude Prize’s event reception which gave the participants the opportunity to engage with the event speakers and network with both the presenters and fellow audience members, the participants of the AMR DxC Winter School closed the evening’s events by enjoying dinner at the acclaimed restaurant, Stac Polly. 


Day 4 - Thursday, 23 February 2017

Day four, the penultimate day of the AMR DxC Winter School, saw the participants presenting their group’s project proposal to a panel of AMR experts: Dr Gyorgy Abel, Daniel Berman, Professor Stephen Gillespie, Professor Susan Welburn and Dr Penny Wilson. After a short session to finalise presentation preparations, each of the five groups made a ten to fifteen minute presentation followed by a ten minute question and answer session with fellow participants and the AMR expert panel. Project proposals ranged from the development of a new AMR rapid diagnostic tools to strategic plans for the implementation of pre-existing tools for use in developing countries. The presentations were followed by a lunch break in which the experts congregated to review and score the presentations and decide on the winning group of the Antimicrobial Resistance Diagnostics Challenge, 2017. The award ceremony followed and the winning group was presented with their award.

The day’s events continued with a networking event, the Global Health Academy Reception, held at the iconic student union, Teviot, and then a social event in the form of a ghost tour in the old vaults of the Edinburgh Cowgate. The resonating thoughts from the day’s events and the Winter School in general was that although there was only one group winner of the AMR DxC Winter School challenge, every participant was a winner, leaving the week with renewed contacts, inspiration from fellow participants and speakers and new ideas. 

day 4_4

Day 5 - Friday, 24 February 2017

Day five marked the end of the AMR DxC Winter School, 2017. Following the week’s busy schedule of brainstorming, networking and hearing from specialists, the participants were given the chance to explore the historical Edinburgh Castle with their newly formed friends and colleagues. The tour of the castle gave the international participants a chance to explore the city and learn about the rich history of the city of Edinburgh. The tour was wrapped up with an informal lunch and some closing remarks. The participants of the AMR DxC Winter School left the week’s proceedings with new friends, international colleagues and renewed ideas to take back to home institutions. The week was greatly enjoyed by all.