Antimicrobial Resistance and Microbial Mechanisms

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a major global health threat, responsible for more than one million deaths and contributing to nearly five million more every year. In AMR, microbes such as bacteria develop the ability to survive exposure to the antibiotic drugs that are used to treat and prevent infections. Through the rise of resistance, medical procedures become riskier and common infections untreatable.

It has become clear that tackling AMR requires a diverse range of actions, which include developing new antibiotics as well as rapid diagnostics. Such advances, in turn, require understanding the modes of action of existing antibiotics and the mechanisms that fuel resistance – to identify new targets for novel antibiotics and to devise ways to rapidly detect the presence of drug resistance.

At the Kavli, we are well-equipped to take on AMR’s scientific challenges.  We develop tools that push the limits of sensitivity and spatio-temporal resolution, harnessing the power of mass spectrometry as well as single-molecule, single-cell, and super-resolution optical measurements, often in the natural context of living cells.

Beyond AMR, our work centres on the discovery of mechanisms that microbes use to sense their environment, grow and replicate. We are thus able to answer some of the most fundamental questions in microbial biology. 


Image 1 single-molecule FRET between two fluorophores.The FRET donor (green) is on the DNA polymerase (grey) and the FRET acceptor(red )on DNA substrate(White).Image 2 :Single molecule tracks from RNA polymerases in E-coli bacteria, blue and red tracks.


Our work in this area focuses on:

Informing the design of new and re-engineered antibiotics. (Carol Robinson)

Identifying new antibiotic targets and lead compounds. (Carol RobinsonAchillefs Kapanidis)

Developing means of rapid and ultrasensitive detection of antibiotic resistance. (Achillefs Kapanidis)

Better understanding the mechanisms of resistance in bacteria. (Carol RobinsonAchillefs Kapanidis)


Graphic illustration showing Antibiotics, resistance and rapid diagnosis.