CONTACT: MICHAEL SONDERGARD
8798 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
UI scientists lead worldwide surveillance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The University of Iowa is one of two research centers
coordinating a worldwide surveillance program to track the escalating spread
of bacteria resistant to current antibiotics.
"The need for comprehensive, international surveillance never has
been more acute," says Dr. Ronald Jones, a UI College of Medicine
pathologist and one of the program's chief architects. "The growing
problem of global bacteria spread and antibiotic resistance, combined with
competition for government funding for disease surveillance, has intensified
the importance of reliable and immediate surveillance data."
Jones notes the program, Sentry Antimicrobial Surveillance, is the first
global surveillance program of its kind.
"Sentry Antimicrobial Surveillance provides physicians, researchers,
and public health officials with comprehensive, timely data on the most
pervasive and devastating infectious human diseases, including blood stream,
respiratory tract, and wound infections," he says.
Surveillance team members also will track and investigate unusual "cluster"
infection outbreaks that can have disastrous consequences. Researchers
at the UI College of Medicine and the Eijkman-Winkler Institute for Microbiology
Infection and Inflammation at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands, designed
the program. It is funded by a grant from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company,
a diversified health and personal care company.
Sentry Antimicrobial Surveillance will monitor hospital (nosocomial)
and community-acquired infections through a global network of 72 medical
centers and outpatient facilities. During the first year of testing, a
minimum of 36,000 Gram negative and Gram positive pathogens, including
Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus
aureus, Pseudomonas, and Enterobacter, will be collected at sites in the
U.S., Canada, Latin America, Europe, and Asia, the Middle East, and parts
Once collected and tested at the individual testing sites, these organisms
will be sent to the UI College of Medicine or the Eijkman-Winkler Institute
for testing and characterization.
In addition, 55 types of antibiotics will be investigated to assess
antimicrobial-resistance patterns. Such comprehensive testing will enable
researchers to identify emerging resistance trends, analyze antibiotic
use, and assess the effects of specific drugs on bacterial infections.
In addition to Jones, fellow pathologist Dr. Michael Pfaller, and clinical
microbiologist Dr. Gary Doern, serve as the UI's principal investigators
for Sentry Antimicrobial Surveillance. Jones and Pfaller are veteran UI
faculty members, while Doern came four months ago from the University of
Massachusetts. All three scientists have played leadership roles in the
project's initial months of organization and early data collection. They
have been assisted by five additional research assistants employed with
grant money for the surveillance project.
Pfaller says the project's value lies in its comprehensive approach
and international scope. "What makes this unique is that we are not
restricted to analyzing one disease, or one region, or to a select group
of pathogens or antibiotic treatments."
Doern adds that the UI's leadership role in global surveillance stems
from the university's "extraordinary combination of accumulated expertise
in this particular field."
The UI and Eijkman-Winkler Institute will provide laboratory analyses
to medical staffs at participating sites; ongoing consultation with principal
investigators and international infectious disease experts; education and
training in molecular epidemiology, and a visiting scientists training
"Bacterial infections and antimicrobial resistance are among the
most challenging issues facing health care delivery systems around the
world today," says Kenneth E. Weg, president of Bristol-Myers Squibb's
Worldwide Medicine Group. "The World Health Organization estimates
that more than 17 million people die of infectious diseases each year,
with many of these acquired in hospitals."
"It is our hope that Sentry Antimicrobial Surveillance will play
a major role in stemming the spread of these deadly microbes. To help achieve
this, Sentry Antimicrobial Surveillance will establish close links with
international infectious disease organizations and government agencies
and will communicate with these groups on a regular basis."