McMaster experts leading efforts to address ‘explosion’ of resistance to antibiotics


Gerry Wright (left), Eric Brown (middle) and Lori Burrows (right), all leading researchers from McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR), are among the featured speakers at the Keystone Symposium.

When the world’s leading scientists in antibiotic resistance gather next week, McMaster’s experts will be leading the discussions.

The gathering in California will focus on combating antibiotic resistance – an infectious disease problem experts warn is at crisis proportions.

Several McMaster researchers, who are recognized as world-leaders in this area, have important roles at the conference.

Eric Brown, a professor in McMaster’s Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences and Canada Research Chair in Microbial Chemical Biology, is a driving force behind this Keystone Symposium, a conference that’s bringing together 150 international experts to talk about ways to address antibiotic resistance.

“Antibiotics have been among the most successful medications of all time, dramatically improving life expectancy and decreasing death from infection,” says Brown. “However, there has been an explosion of resistance to antibiotics and our arsenal of antibiotics is gradually losing its effectiveness. It’s essential that the international research community come together to address this critical issue.”

Brown, Gerry Wright, a Canada Research Chair in antibiotic biochemistry, and biochemist Lori Burrows, all leading researchers from McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Disease Research (IIDR), are among the featured speakers at the symposia.

Brown, a co-organizer of the event, says the aim of the conference is to explore current research and look at strategies to combat antibiotic resistance in “gram-negative” bacteria, an area of research that has produced few new drug therapies over the past 15 years.

“The problem of resistance in gram-negative bacteria is acute,” says Brown. “There are few new antibiotics in the development pipeline. The cupboard is truly bare. It’s imperative that we work together to develop new projects and collaborations that lead to innovative, effective therapeutics and potential solutions to what is quickly becoming a public health crisis.”

Brown says the conference will provide a forum for top scientists from academia, medicine, industry and government to share their expertise in a number of areas including drug development, discovery research and best practices in clinical treatment. He hopes the conference will lead to new collaborations, projects and strategies to address gram-negative drug resistance.

The conference is also intended to serve as a training ground for up and coming researchers and will provide junior scientists with an opportunity to learn and contribute their ideas and scientific work. Six McMaster post-doctoral and graduate researchers working at the IIDR will be attending the conference.

The Keystone Symposium takes place from March 29 to April 2 in Tahoe City, California.