The steady and alarming rise in antibiotic resistance poses one of the greatest challenges to public health and modern medicine. The U.S. CDC estimates that drug-resistant bacteria sicken more than 2 million people annually, causing 23,000 deaths and resulting in $20 billion in excess health-care costs and an additional $35 billion in lost productivity. The antibiotic resistance crisis is particularly devastating in hospitals and long-term care facilities, where such infections strike the most vulnerable patients with weak immune systems or chronic diseases. The roots of our current dilemma are multifactorial. Overzealous use of antibiotics in both clinical and agricultural settings, the departure of major pharmaceutical companies from antibiotic development (viewed as unprofitable), and simple Darwinian evolution of microbes exposed to life-or-death selective pressures each contribute profoundly. Can we, through public awareness, changes in medical practice, and scientific innovation, lift ourselves out of the hole that we have dug?
Victor Nizet, MD, is a physician-scientist and member of the UC San Diego faculty for almost 20 years. A Professor in the Department of Pediatrics as well as the Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences, Dr. Nizet leads one of the largest basic and translational research laboratories on the UCSD campus. The major themes of his research program have been directly inspired by clinical problems encountered by Dr. Nizet and his colleagues taking care of patients on the Pediatric Infectious Diseases services of UCSD and Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego. The faculty members, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students in the laboratory are working to understand the molecular mechanisms by which superbugs like Staphylococcus aureus can spread through our body to produce serious infections, and exactly how our immune systems including white blood cells are activated to fight against these pathogens. In 2017, Dr. Nizet received the UC Chancellor’s Associates Award for Excellence in Research in Science and Engineering.
In the face of the exploding resistance crisis, Dr. Nizet and colleagues have turned their attention to discovering innovative future solutions that go “beyond antibiotics” to help patients with serious infections. These include strategies to strip the bacteria of their virulence factors and toxins to render them harmless, approaches to boost the natural antibacterial killing activity of our own white blood cells, and studies to understand how antibiotics and other existing drugs may work to cure infection in partnership with our immune system – not just how they work in a test tube. Dr. Nizet is spearheading a new initiative involving nearly 50 UCSD faculty named the “Collaborative to Halt Antibiotic-Resistant Microbes” or CHARM, which will make its debut later this year.
Date & Time
Wednesday, June 7, 2017, 5-7 PM