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21 Sep 2022

Doherty Institute researcher receives $2.9 million grant for antimicrobial surveillance project

Royal Melbourne Hospital Professor Karin Thursky, Director of the National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship at the Doherty Institute and Director of the Guidance Group at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, received a $2.9 million grant from the Australian Government Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) for her project using novel data science to enable automated surveillance and monitoring of antimicrobial prescribing in healthcare. 

The emergence of the global health challenge of antimicrobial resistance has highlighted a need to promote the safe and judicious use of antimicrobial medications, which is one of the pillars of the National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy in Australia. 

A foundational requirement for antimicrobial stewardship programs in Australia is the ability to monitor the appropriateness of antimicrobial use. This is needed across the healthcare system, including in hospitals, primary care, aged care and animal health practices. 

Taking a ‘One Health’ approach to the National Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy’s aim of promoting the judicious use of antimicrobials across the healthcare continuum,Professor Thursky says this project will provide an exciting opportunity to collaborate with digital health experts and data scientists to use novel data science methods to facilitate the automated surveillance of antimicrobial prescribing in these settings 

“No other country monitors appropriateness of prescribing at a national level, and we are looking forward to introducing techniques such as natural language processing and machine learning to build a new learning health system for antimicrobial stewardship,” Professor Thursky said. 

The Guidance Group of Melbourne Health and the National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship have delivered the National Antimicrobial Prescribing Survey program in hospitals and aged care homes in Australia over several years, beginning in 2013. This quality improvement initiative, undertaken manually by clinicians at participant sites, has demonstrated the usability of standardised methodologies for the assessment of antimicrobial use. The researchers plan to use innovative methods to enhance the applicability of the quality improvement. 

The project will bring together a multidisciplinary team of antimicrobial stewardship experts from human and animal health with digital health experts to establish a new research platform for surveillance of antimicrobial use across health settings. 

"This award recognises our wonderful team of collaborators across the University of Melbourne and the Parkville Precinct hospitals who support our world-leading health services research program in antimicrobial stewardship,” Professor Thursky said.