Last year a UK-China research collaboration took an unexpected turn following the discovery of resistance to the ‘last resort’ antibiotic: colistin. Here Professor Timothy Walsh, Professor of Medical Microbiology at Cardiff University, describes how the global community can learn from the positive steps taken by the Chinese Government.
Antibiotic resistance is really all about people and society. We often blame antimicrobial resistance on the bug and how resistance can travel from one bug to another. But different sectors, for example farming, hospitals and communities, are all critically linked.
MRC-funded researcher Dianne Newbury won our international collaboration competition last year for a poster describing her work with researchers in Chile on speech and language development. When we heard that the story involved a mysterious predominance of language problems on the island that inspired Robinson Crusoe, we invited her to write about it.
Our story begins on a small island 400 miles off the coast of Chile in the Pacific Ocean. Robinson Crusoe Island is named after Alexander Selkirk, the Scottish sailor who was marooned on the island for four years in the 1700s and was reportedly the inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s famous novel.
The island is quiet, the climate warm and the vistas unique, making it an idyllic holiday location. It has a population of less than 1,000 individuals, most of whom live in the island’s only town, San Juan Bautista. Read more
Tackling health problems around the world demands a global response. With a 100-year history of strategic international collaboration, MRC scientists today collaborate with researchers in more than 100 countries. Dr Mark Palmer, MRC Director of International Strategy, talks to Isabel Baker about the changing landscape of international collaboration and the exciting new opportunities it has to offer.
Has MRC-funded research always been international?
Yes, science is global, it’s an international activity. There has always been the exchange of ideas between people working in science, and these shared ideas spark new innovations and understanding. Science is about trying to progress knowledge. Increasingly, pooling resources allows us to solve problems that we couldn’t tackle alone.
Why collaborate on an international scale?
Firstly, health and diseases don’t recognise borders. Pandemic infections, for example, can only be tackled by taking a global approach. For many diseases it is also essential that research is conducted in those countries where the disease is prevalent. Secondly, many clinical studies may need large cohorts of patients; in particular when the disease is rare, research cannot be conducted in one country alone.
Additionally, international collaboration can give researchers the chance to work in a different political, regulatory or intellectual environment where different approaches have been made to problem solving. Exposure to a different way of thinking, and seeing how other people work, can be hugely beneficial to progressing research in our own country. Read more