Major Clinical Research Network on Antibacterial Resistance Funded

YSPH Researcher Will Serve on Steering Committee for Multimillion-Dollar Initiative

A researcher from the Yale School of Public Health will help direct a new clinical research network formed to address the rising health problem of antibacterial resistance.

The project is being starting with a $2 million grant and could total up to $62 million by 2019. Funding for the initiative comes from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

Infections with resistant bacteria have become more common in health care and community settings, and many bacteria have become resistant to more than one type or class of antibiotics. As a result, medical professionals are left with few treatment options.

“Antibiotic resistant bacterial infections are a huge threat to public health. These infections are associated with increased morbidity, mortality, and excess healthcare costs. Unfortunately, there are few new antibiotics in the pipeline,” said Melinda Pettigrew, an associate professor at the School of Public Health, who will serve on the study’s steering group. “I am excited to be a part of this network, which will help change clinical practice and reduce the impact of antimicrobial resistance in the United States and globally.”

The group will design, implement and manage the network’s clinical research agenda. The scientific efforts that the steering group is expected to undertake include:

  • Conducting early-stage clinical evaluation of new antibacterial drugs.
  • Performing clinical trials to optimize currently licensed antibacterial drugs to reduce the risk of resistance.
  • Testing diagnostics.
  • Examining best practices in infection control programs to prevent the development and spread of resistant infections.

The project will be based at Duke University in North Carolina and co-led by the University of California, San Francisco. The leadership group on which Pettigrew serves consists of more than 20 investigators nationwide with diverse experience on antibacterial resistance.

Pettigrew’s research interests include otitis media—more commonly known as an ear infection—a condition that infects nearly 80 percent of youngsters by age 3. She is studying the infection’s underlying bacterial and viral origins and is looking at novel approaches, ones that do not necessarily involve the use of antibiotics, to reduce its incidence.

The steering committee will define the research agenda and scientific priorities of the network. A key function of the committee will be the review and prioritization of study proposals. Pettigrew will also chair a subcommittee that offers expertise on antimicrobial resistance within distinct groups, including racial and ethnic minorities, immunocompromised hosts, those with sexually transmitted infections, and military personnel.  

“Through this new clinical research network, we will strengthen our existing research capacity and address the most pressing scientific priorities related to antibacterial resistance,” said Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., NIAID’s director.

Planning for the development of the NIAID clinical trials network on antibacterial resistance began in 2010 in connection with a larger effort to restructure NIAID’s HIV/AIDS clinical trials networks.


This article was submitted by Denise Meyer on June 17, 2013.