The Association of Public & Land-grant Universities (APLU)/Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) Task Force on Antibiotic Resistance in Production Agriculture recently unveiled a report that outlines a comprehensive national strategy for diminishing the role antibiotics used in food animal production systems play in the broader antimicrobial resistance (AMR) problem.
The task force, comprised of leaders from U.S. agriculture colleges/land-grant universities and veterinary colleges as well as key representatives from the production animal agriculture community and the pharmaceutical industry, detailed a comprehensive research and educational agenda along with plans on how it intends to implement it.
The report’s agenda was designed to explore and describe the nature and implications of the problem and educate producers, healthcare providers and the public about best practices. It also calls for a series of national summits to elevate the issue of antibiotic resistance to the top of the national agenda.
Formed last fall (Feedstuffs, Nov. 17, 2014), the 14-member task force has been working closely with federal government agencies to develop an action plan that will leverage the collective strengths and expertise of North American universities to address what the Obama Administration has termed a national security priority.
"We know that antibiotic resistance is biologically complex and poorly understood," said Dr. Lonnie King, a former dean of The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine and former senior official with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) who co-chaired the task force with University of Illinois president emeritus Robert Easter. "We also know that the scope and scale of the problem threatens human, animal and environmental health, nationally and globally. The committee has accomplished some important work, but now we need to take action.
"Solving this problem is going to require focus, resources, collaboration and sustained effort," King said.
The task force report also contains a detailed strategy for implementing their educational, outreach and research program recommendations. A full-time program manager has been hired to provide administrative leadership and management. The APLU and AAVMC will work to identify a national consortium of faculty experts within their member institutions to build out the programs and collaborate with federal agency personnel.
A centralized University Research Organization (URO) is envisioned to serve as a coordinating center for the educational and research programs that need to be created and operated. The URO would engage the full complement of stakeholders in a public/private partnership that would serve as the focal point for a sustained, consolidated research and educational effort.
Though physically housed within a single academic institution, the URO would have a supra-organizational governing body, scientific advisory council and subscription membership available for pharmaceutical companies, commodity organizations and others engaged in the fight against antibiotic resistance.
Pilot projects focused on combating antibiotic resistance will be created at several large universities with substantial human medical, veterinary medical and agricultural centers.