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School musical to inspire battle on superbugs

University researchers are helping to create a schoolchildren’s musical about the challenge of ensuring antibiotics remain effective.

The show, The Mould that Changed the World, will be performed by pupils in launch performances at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and the Science Museum in London this summer.

Dr Meghan Perry, a clinician scientist from the University, came up with the idea for the project, which is supported by the Chief Medical Officers for Scotland and England.

The British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (BSAC), an antibiotics charity, has teamed up with Charades Musicals and the University on the project.

School musical to inspire battle on superbugs

Historical tale

The musical’s narrative begins with the discovery of penicillin in 1928, and ends in the present day as world leaders discuss the need for decisive action.

The performances take place close to the 90th anniversary of penicillin’s discovery by Alexander Fleming, a former Rector of the University.

Schools are being encouraged to sign up to take part, to enable children to inform and influence audiences about the global threat to health.

Video tutorials, music, scripts, and lesson plans will be made available online for free to schools that register.

Pupil performances

Children from Gullane Primary School, in East Lothian, will launch the musical at the National Museum of Scotland, on 13 June.

Pupils from Hitherfield Primary School in London will perform the show at the Science Museum on 4 July.

A professional production of the show will also run for three weeks during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August, at Surgeon’s Hall.

Amateur singers are invited to audition for the Fringe show’s choir.

Urgent challenge

A recent review of antimicrobial resistance by Lord Jim O’Neill concluded that if action is not taken now, AMR could lead to 10 million deaths per year by 2050, compared with about 700,000 lives per year at present.

Key medical procedures such as caesarean sections, joint replacements, and chemotherapy could become too dangerous to perform.

Failure to ensure that antibiotics remain effective could lead to a cumulative loss of US$100 trillion of economic output and have a devastating impact on low and middle-income countries.

Performing a musical is a truly interactive experience that will immerse participants in the history, politics, and science of the ongoing fight against infection – and have a profound effect on their understanding of what’s at stake.

Dr Meghan PerryEdinburgh Medical School

Antimicrobial resistance is a problem facing all of us – not just scientists and health professionals – and so I wholeheartedly welcome The Mould that Changed the World.

Dr Catherine CalderwoodChief Medical Officer for Scotland

Related links:

The Mould that Changed the World

British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy

Charades Musicals

Casting call for The Mould that Changed the World