Stopping the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria

Advancing the health of communities worldwide

For decades, doctors have trusted antibiotic medicines to fight Infectious bacteria, saving lives and restoring health. Lately, though, the drugs often fail. To blame are newly emerging antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Drug-resistant bacterial infections cause nearly 23,000 deaths annually in the United States. Globally the annual death toll could be as high as 700,000.

WSU is part of global effort

Stopping antimicrobial resistance (AMR) requires a global effort. Washington State University is helping to lead the charge.

In the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, where experts study the emergence and spread of disease, researchers are examining the role the environment plays in proliferation of AMR.

Understanding how AMR spreads

AMR spreads quickly in developing countries where antibiotic use is unregulated and widespread. It thrives in low sanitation settings. Global travel and the international food trade aid dissemination of resistant bacteria worldwide.

WSU scientists are conducting research in east Africa to better understand the emergence and spread of AMR. They are working in partnership with Tanzania’s Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Kenya Medical Research Institute.

Professor Doug Call of the Allen School is training scientists from Africa to better understand complex issues associated with AMR persistence. He teaches local scientists to recognize genetic mechanisms that can give resistant microbes an upper hand. Learn more about Allen School programs addressing AMR here.

Convening a Washington Coalition

In 2016 Washington State University joined with other organizations addressing global health issues to form the Washington State Antimicrobial Resistance Coalition. The group explores how drug resistance emerges in settings worldwide, then spreads into U.S. communities and hospitals.

The coalition fosters collaboration among federal agencies, Congress, international global health organizations, U.S. hospitals, research universities, and others to deploy resources strategically in the fight against AMR. It plans to monitor high-risk locations and test new approaches to keep superbugs in check.

Recent lecture in Seattle


The 2017 WSU Innovators event in Seattle featured researchers working with Dr. Call, as well as Dr. Guy Palmer, the Allen School’s co-founder and senior director for global health at WSU. Tina Vlasaty of the Washington Global Health Alliance moderated the panel.

The panelists discussed the global-to-local approach needed to curb the emergence of antimicrobial resistance, and WSU’s role in developing solutions.

Watch a video of the engaging conversation.