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Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in the Real World: The Indoor and Built Environment

The Arts and Humanities Research Council, as a part of the Cross-council AMR initiative, is pleased to invite applications for interdisciplinary research examining ways to meet the threat of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) in the indoor and built environment. Building on previous calls funded by the Research Councils, this call is explicitly intended to facilitate an arts and humanities contribution to the ongoing scientific research in tackling AMR.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a term used to describe disease-causing organisms that have evolved to survive medicines that have been designed to kill them or stop their growth and is recognised as one of the most important global issues for human and animal health. The numbers of bacteria that are becoming resistant to antibiotics is increasing, with the development of new antibiotics and treatments being slower to emerge. It is clear that AMR is a hugely complex problem with a range of influences, driven by human activity as much as by biological mechanisms. Biomedical and clinical expertise alone cannot tackle AMR and globally co-operative, interdisciplinary approaches are needed to tackle the challenge.

Whilst often framed in purely medical terms, there is a growing recognition that effective solutions to the problem of AMR will require input and buy-in from a wide range of academic disciplines and stakeholders, such as, the public, health professionals, policy makers and industries. Beyond developing new and more effective antibiotics, there is a huge amount of scope for changing attitudes and behaviours that might prolong the effectiveness of current drugs. For example, new process and solutions to help human and animals avoid the kind of infections that might require antimicrobial treatment.

This call looks specifically to engage a broad range of researchers, who might not usually consider addressing medical issues. In particular, it is expected that designers and architects will take a leading role in considering how buildings, processes, technology and products might be utilised or reimagined to lessen dependency on antibiotics. Although not a requirement of the call, it is anticipated that the integration of design methodologies and approaches alongside other disciplines has the potential to significantly contribute to meeting the challenges posed by AMR. Beyond design, wider arts and humanities disciplines have much to offer. For example, historians can provide a different perspective and deeper understanding of the issues, through investigating how societies have approached infection and disease and considering how this can inform future developments. Language, literary and creative scholars can contribute towards understanding attitudes to disease and treatments and developing innovative ways of communicating the AMR message to both the medical professional and the wider public.

Whilst applications for this call will be required to contain significant arts and humanities methodologies, a collaborative approach is encouraged in order to include expertise and insights from as broad a range of subject disciplines as possible. Within this cross-disciplinary approach, a number of key areas have been identified that all projects will be expected to engage with:

  • Places, Spaces, Cultures and Practices: Interactions with and within the Indoor and Built Environment
  • Pathways and Journeys through the Built Environment and the Dynamics of Change
  • Creative, Collaborative and Disruptive Innovation, Experiments and Design in Indoor/ Built Environments
  • Reflection, Learning, Data and Valuing Impacts from Changes to the Indoor/ Built Environment

Full details of the call are available in the Call document (PDF, 314KB)

Networking event documents

AHRC held a networking and information event at the AMBA Marble Arch Hotel on 30 November 2016. Presentations from the speakers can be found below along with a list of delegates who have given permission for their biographies and/or contact details to be shared for those interested in exploring potential research collaborations.