Professors and researchers with the Center for Antimicrobial Resistance and Microbial Genomics (CARMiG) had the unique opportunity to promote McGovern Medical School’s ongoing research projects on antibiotic resistance at a national fair in Washington, D.C. last month.

A large consortium of groups ranging from government officials to pharmaceutical specialists, medical professionals, funding agencies, and educators gathered for the Congressional Antimicrobial Resistance Fair Nov. 13 to discuss the need to develop new classes of antibiotics, how to responsibly apply them, and advances in diagnostics. Dr. William Miller, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases, represented McGovern Medical School at a table that walked attendees through different patient scenarios.

“We have a lot of ongoing research projects that look at the prevalence of antimicrobial resistance, what is actually happening within the bacteria, and how it affects the patient,” Miller said. Some of the key research highlighted focused on examining the genomes of resistant bacteria to help improve diagnostic and treatment methods.

At their table, attendees were given the identity of a patient who had an antimicrobial resistant infection as they followed through the process and challenges of treatment. For example, one attendee might be a solider with a multi-drug resistant infection called Acinetobacter, prevalent in those with traumatic injuries. Presenters highlighted where challenges and resistances come into play, and how doctors can respond.

“[Attendees] went all through these different cases to see how antimicrobial resistance impacts their care at the clinical level and beyond,” Miller said.

The appearance marked the first time CARMiG had been invited to the event, and Miller said it was exciting to know that the efforts of the center have been attracting attention and to have a forum highlighting their capabilities. It also was a positive step forward in the field of antimicrobial resistance studies.

“We’ve progressed so far in so many ways – everything from trans-Atlantic airplanes to electric cars – but we’re still using susceptibility testing that goes back half a century,” Miller said. “We need to decrease the amount of time to determine if we have a resistant organism and put people on the correct treatment. It also helps us not give out antibiotics to people who don’t need them.”

Miller said it was an honor to participate in the event and their work was a reflection of the leadership of Dr. Cesar Arias, director of CARMiG and Laurel and Robert H. Graham Faculty Fellow, and the department’s dedicated team.

The center will host a three-day Antimicrobial Resistance Research and Stewardship conference Jan. 17 to 19. For more information, visit the event’s website.