MONTREAL, Canada - Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a looming health crisis that, according to the World Heath Organization, if left unchecked, could become a global scale threat to human life and prosperity. Thanks to a C$500,000 gift from Rio Tinto to the McGill Antimicrobial Resistance Centre, made through the Rio Tinto Aluminium Canada Fund, new innovations in the fight against resistant bacteria will be developed in Montreal.
AMR occurs when bacteria and other microbes become resistant to antibiotics, disinfectants and other antimicrobial products. The consequences could be devastating: without reliable antibiotics, even the simplest of surgeries could pose risk of major infections. Similarly, hallmarks of modern medicine such as chemotherapy, transplantation and joint replacements — all of which require antibiotics — could come with much more risk in the not-so-distant future.
Antimicrobial Resistance Centre Director, Dr. Dao Nguyen, said: “No new antibiotics have been developed since the 1990s, and the discovery pipeline is dry. If we don’t act now, we could be living in a post-antibiotic world. At the AMR Centre, we will be able to explore innovative new ways to prevent and treat resistant infections.”
Not only have no new antibiotics been developed in over 20 years, but the ones we have are rapidly becoming ineffective as antibiotic resistant bacteria evolve. To help scientists at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre and McGill University find innovative ways to curb infection, Rio Tinto’s gift will create the Antimicrobial Resistance Discovery Incubator. This research accelerator will award seed funding to test promising ideas that could lead to new antibiotics or other ways to fight antimicrobial resistant super bugs.
Rio Tinto Aluminium Chief Executive Ivan Vella said: “Antimicrobial resistance is a global issue and, as a global company, Rio Tinto is pleased to support research that will have a positive impact on people’s health worldwide. We are fortunate to have some of the leading researchers in infection and immunity here in Montreal. We are confident that the new Antimicrobial Discovery Incubator will lead to lifesaving discoveries, and we are proud to play a part in finding innovative solutions.”
Most of the antibiotics we have today were found in nature—penicillin, for instance, is a type of mould. To encourage pharmaceutical companies to develop new antibiotics, Rio Tinto’s gift will support researchers searching for the next penicillin, as well as new innovations that will help prevent or curb the rise in drug resistant bacteria.
MUHC Foundation Dream Big. Solve Humanity’s Deadliest Puzzles campaign (MI4) Co-Chair, Heather Munroe-Blum, said: “Antibiotics are the cornerstone of modern medicine. The advancements we have made in surgery, chemotherapy and more are under threat unless we find new ways to treat infections. We do that by investing in life-changing research by some of the smartest minds at the RI-MUHC and McGill.”
MUHC Foundation Dream Big. Solve Humanity’s Deadliest Puzzles campaign (MI4) Co-Chair, Mark Smith, said: “Antibiotic resistance could dial medicine back a century. We cannot stand by and let this happen. The impact of Rio Tinto’s gift to the new Antimicrobial Resistance Discovery Incubator has the potential to reverberate around the globe.”
The McGill Antimicrobial Resistance Centre is part of the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4), which brings together over 250 experts from a wide range of fields to tackle the global threat of infectious diseases. MI4 is leading research to stop diseases like tuberculosis, Hepatitis C, COVID-19 and more from taking lives.
MUHC Foundation Dream Big Campaign Co-Chair Suzanne Legge Orr said: “My fellow co-chairs, Marc Parent, Jean Charest and I wish to thank Rio Tinto for this extraordinary, forward-thinking gift. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the vast impact infectious diseases can have on our world. With the help of this gift, MI4 and the AMR Centre will safeguard us against a post-antibiotic world.”
The new Antimicrobial Resistance Discovery Incubator will give out its first seed funding awards next year.
MUHC Foundation President and CEO Julie Quenneville said: “We are proud to partner with Rio Tinto to support innovation in antibiotic discovery. The new incubator will bring forward ideas that will revolutionize how we prevent and treat infections. The discovery of penicillin changed the world; I am confident that MI4 will change it again with the discoveries of the AMR Centre.”
McGill University Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4) Director, Dr. Marcel Behr, said: “MI4 would like to thank Rio Tinto for their generous gift and contribution to MI4’s future successes. With Rio Tinto’s donation supporting the leadership of the AMR Centre, we will be able to roll up our sleeves, and gather interdisciplinary teams to find solutions.”
About the McGill University Health Centre Foundation
The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation raises funds to support excellence in patient care, research and teaching at the McGill University Health Centre, one of the top university hospitals in Canada. Our Dream Big Campaign to change the course of lives and medicine is raising millions of dollars to solve humanity’s deadliest puzzles: infectious diseases; end cancer as a life-threatening illness; fix broken hearts through innovative cardiac care; detect the silent killers—ovarian and endometrial cancers—early; create the best skilled health care teams in Canada; and much more. We are rallying our entire community to solve the world’s most complex health care challenges.
About the RI-MUHC
The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC) is a world-renowned biomedical and healthcare research centre. The institute, which is affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine of McGill University, is the research arm of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) – an academic health centre located in Montreal, Canada, that has a mandate to focus on complex care within its community. The RI-MUHC supports over 450 researchers and around 1,200 research trainees devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental, clinical and health outcomes research at the Glen and the Montreal General Hospital sites of the MUHC. Its research facilities offer a dynamic multidisciplinary environment that fosters collaboration and leverages discovery aimed at improving the health of individual patients across their lifespan. The RI-MUHC is supported in part by the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Santé (FRQS). rimuhc.ca
The McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4), brings together a group of more than 200 scientists and researchers, with the goal of developing new solutions for microbial threats and delivering these solutions to the patients and populations who need them most.