Infection biology research in Uppsala has a distinct focus on zoonotic infections and antibiotic resistance. Apart from Uppsala University and the University Hospital, the Swedish Agricultural University (SLU), the Swedish Veterinary Agency (SVA) and the National Food Agency (SLV) contribute to the unique, multidisciplinary setting. This environment has also enabled a wide range of broader transcending research on infectious diseases in Uppsala as well as the One Health Sweden initiative. See below for more details for each of the organizations.
At Uppsala University (UU) strong basic research in the areas of antibiotic resistance development and zoonotic infections can be found mainly at the departments of Medical Biochemistry and Microbiology (IMBIM) and Cellular and Molecular Biology (ICM). The zoonosis science center at IMBIM focuses on zoonotic viral infections including hantaviruses, flaviviruses, and avian influenza virus. At the department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences, projects within the field of pharmacometrics include understanding the kinetics of infectious diseases and antibiotic treatment.
At the University hospital and at the division of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious diseases in particular, the research area encompasses several independent research groups with the common overall aim to combat emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
In addition, researchers at Uppsala University coordinate large EU funded projects for combatting antibiotic resistance like ENABLE and DRIVE-AB. The goal of the ENABLE project is to develop attractive antimicrobial candidates against Gram-negative infections for testing in the clinic, whereas DRIVE-AB focuses on driving reinvestment in research and development of new antibiotics.
In addition, ReAct – Action on Antibiotic Resistance, an independent global network for concerted action on antibiotic resistance is coordinated from Uppsala University. ReAct works across disciplines, bringing stakeholders together in developing ways forward, promoting best practices and innovative solutions, advocating and mobilizing for behavioral change.
The newly formed Uppsala Antibiotics Center (UAC) at Uppsala University will bring this expertise together to combine the vast amount of basic, applied and political research on antibiotic resistance performed in Uppsala. UAC aims to stimulate and support research addressing questions related to this severe problem from all three disciplinary domains at UU: Medicine and Pharmacy, Science and Technology and Humanities and Social sciences. The basis of UAC is the broad and internationally renowned research and higher education within the field of antibiotic resistance at UU and the existing prerequisites to unite interdisciplinary actors to find innovative solutions. The center is lead by Director Prof. Dan Andersson and three project coordinators specialized in research, innovation and international outreach.
In addition to the emphasis on building a community involving PhD students, supervisors and the research school, UAC will arrange workshops, seminar series and other means for partnerships to build an extensive interdisciplinary environment for antibiotic research. The center is actively looking for collaboration with other universities in Sweden, both in arranging PhD student courses and in organizing research meetings. The aim is to link achievements, in Sweden as well as internationally, within the field of antibiotic research.
At the Swedish University for Agricultural Sciences (SLU) much of the focus lies on food microbiology including host-bacteria interactions (probiotics) and discovery of new antibiotics from nature. In collaboration with BioGaia, scientists at SLU try to understand the behavior and impact of the probiotic bacteria in different models. In addition, scientist at SLU in collaboration with Medivir try to find antimicrobial chemical weaponry in nature and look for antibacterial drugs from fungi and bacteria originating from highly diverse environmental sources.
The strategic focus areas at the National Veterinary Institute (SVA) include antibiotic resistance development in animals and the environment as well as zoonotic gut infections. At SVA, extensive research on the epidemiology of zoonotic pathogens is carried out with the aim to control zoonoses and thus minimize the risk for transmission to humans. Research on antimicrobial resistance at SVA has a veterinary perspective but with a “One Health” approach. Veterinary pathogens including zoonotic agents as well as indicator bacteria are studied with the focus on treatment of bacterial infections and presence of antibiotic resistant bacteria in food and the environment.
At the National Food Agency (SLV) the focus lies on tracing infectious agents in water and food. Pathogens found in food range from bacteria to viruses and parasites and to a large extent efforts are concentrated on tracing and mapping the spread and origin of infectious agents in food and water. Similarly, the prevalence of antibiotic resistant isolates of for example Salmonella and E.coli in meat are monitored and tracked in Sweden.
The One Health Sweden initiative is a network for infection ecology and epidemiology that formed in 2010. The One Health network works for increased cooperation amongst virology, bacteriology, ecology and clinical science researchers from all of the higher educational institutions in Uppsala (UU, SLU and SVA) as well as from numerous other research groups in Sweden and the other Nordic countries.