WASHINGTON – Iowa State Univ. was selected to establish and host a new National Institute for Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Research and Education on July 26.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) chose Iowa State to lead the institute, which will utilize a One Health approach to tackle the AMR problem completely. One Health is an emerging approach in healthcare that involves veterinarians, physicians and other scientific experts collaborating to achieve optimal health for people, animals and the environment.

Iowa State’s application to establish the new institute was organized around plans to upgrade an existing university-based research and education program known as the Antimicrobial Resistance Consortium, which was formed three years ago.

Paul Plummer, DVM, associate professor of veterinary diagnostic and production animal medicine at Iowa State will serve as executive director of the new institute.

“Antimicrobial resistance touches each of us in our daily lives," Plummer said in a statement. "This new institute provides a great resource for the entire country as we work to build strong, collaborative research and educational programs to mitigate this risk.”

Iowa State will provide office space and IT support for the institute. The project will initially be jointly funded by Iowa State and the Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln at $525,000 per year for three years ($1.575 million total investment). The institute will plan to find revenue streams through grants and membership in the consortium. An independent board of directors will govern the institute. Iowa State and its partners and stakeholders will work with APLU and AAVMC to develop a governance structure.

Iowa State will also partner with the Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln, Univ. of Nebraska Medical Center, the Univ. of Iowa and the Mayo Medical Clinic – all of which are involved with its existing consortium. Iowa State will also work with two major USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) facilities, as well as a collection of agricultural stakeholders representing over one-fourth of the US swine and beef industry.

The new institute is the result of a joint task force on Antibiotic Resistance in Production Agriculture that AAVMC and APLU created in 2014.

“The misuse of antibiotics is a major reason why antimicrobial resistance is a rapidly growing threat to human, animal, and environmental health,” said Ian Maw, APLU’s vice president food, agriculture & natural resources. “While the problem is well understood, the path to advancing solutions has been blurry. It’s clear we need a coordinating body to organize research and education activities so we can make meaningful progress to reverse this trend. Solving big problems like antimicrobial resistance goes right to the heart of the research and engagement missions of public and land-grant universities.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antibiotic-resistant bacteria cause at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deaths in the US annually.

Infections caused by these pathogens cost an estimated $20 billion a year in direct health care costs plus $35 billion in lost productivity due to hospitalizations and sick days. Experts believe the mismanagement of antibiotics in animal agriculture and over-prescription and patient non-compliance in human health care are leading contributors to the antimicrobial resistant problem.