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Open Access The Wollongong Antimicrobial Resistance Research Alliance (WARRA)

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At the forefront of these efforts are the AMR Global Challenges Research Programme and the Wollongong Antimicrobial Resistance Research Alliance (WARRA). WARRA is headed by prominent researchers Distinguished Professor Antoine van Oijen and Professor Mitchell Byrne of the University of Wollongong in Australia. This is a unique partnership that reflects the interdisciplinary nature of the problem: van Oijen is a life scientist developing novel microscopy tools to study how bacteria work, and Byrne is a clinical psychologist/social scientist. While a clinical psychologist may seem out of place in an antimicrobial resistance research programme, many of the challenges surrounding this issue are people-based and require an understanding of human behaviours regarding antimicrobial usage. 'I am a behavioural scientist whose approach to the problems and solutions in life focus on the environmental drivers or contingencies governing human behaviour, including the internal cognitive environment,' explains Byrne. He brings with him extensive experience in funded clinical research trials. Together the two researchers have assembled a diverse team and partnerships between the University of Wollongong and local health authorities, clinicians, community stakeholders and industry, in order to develop new approaches to tackle AMR. With the appropriate testing ground established, the team now has a great opportunity to study the drivers of the resistance problem to identify which require the most attention and test interventions. 'For example,' says Byrne, 'there is a general consensus amongst researchers that the overuse of antibiotics is one of the key drivers of resistance, but what isn't well understood is how we might be able to change these drivers.' Using a variety of approaches is key. So far the programme has already begun investigating patient healthcare service utilisation rates and clinical outcomes in relation to AMR. Several other pilot projects are underway, including a study to examine the community behaviours contributing to antibiotic use and resistance. Like many of the issues facing society in the 21st century, AMR is a global challenge. Infection knows no borders and so conditions in any one nation will affect the rest. The WARRA programme represents one of the first that is explicitly designed to export the knowledge gained to the world. The programme, in its interdisciplinary make-up and its efforts to form a representative, real-world testing ground, truly represents the multifaceted nature of this global issue and is therefore poised to address the problem in an all-encompassing fashion.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2019

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