£1 million funding granted to establish healthcare institute

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The University has been awarded £1 million in funding to establish a new Scottish Healthcare Associated Infection Prevention Institute (SHAIPI). The figure constitutes part of the £4.2 million sum allocated to the project, announced by Health Secretary Shona Robison on 24 March.

During a visit to Glasgow University, Ms Robison stated: “we are committed in our drive to tackling and reducing the spread of healthcare-associated infections.” She noted that the investment “will allow us to take the next step in our fight to bring down infection levels even further.”

A press release from the University stated that: “the announcement represents one of the largest single investments into research to tackle infection within healthcare settings in the UK in recent years.”

The tasks of the Institute will include: developing new interventions to prevent the spread of infection; researching new ways of using existing antibiotics more effectively and efficiently; developing new genome-based diagnostic tools to identify current and new emerging healthcare-associated infections (HAIs); developing predictive models to identify patients that are at risk of HAIs.

Collaborators from the universities of St Andrews, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian and Strathclyde will work together through a virtual hub established by the Institute. According to a University spokesperson, the hub will allow them to communicate “with a range of health boards and strategic partners to look at new ways of dealing with the challenge of antimicrobial resistance and emerging HAIs.”

Professor Stephen Gillespie and Dr Matthew Holden will head the research at the University of St Andrews. They will use genomics to describe the molecular epidemiology of HAI within Scotland and also develop a near real time sequencing platform that will support rapid molecular diagnostics, to identify and target infection transmission in a hospital setting.

“Genome sequencing will provide an unprecedented view of the genetic makeup of bacteria that cause disease in hospitals,” stated Dr Holden, adding that it will “help us to target them more effectively and prevent their spread.”

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