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Techniquest unites with Cardiff University scientists to tackle superbugs

6 July 2018

Superbugs - Techniquest 28 June 2018

Cardiff’s leading scientists and researchers join forces in the fight against antibiotic resistant superbugs.

Educational charity Techniquest teamed up with Cardiff University this month at a free special event discussing the global rise of superbugs.

As part of the Festival of Innovation, the science discovery centre hosted ‘Superbugs: The end of modern medicine as we know it?’.

The free evening on June 28th showcased the world-leading research from Cardiff University into how the human body fights ‘bad’ germs and uses ‘friendly’ germs for its benefit and how everyone can help to preserve antibiotics for the future.

The discussion comes as cases of hard to treat strains of superbugs are becoming more prominent, resulting in 25,000 deaths across Europe annually.

Superbugs ABPI

The event was created by Dr Matthias Eberl, Engagement Lead at Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute and BSI Trustee, and brought together experts from across South Wales to discuss how they are tackling the growing resistance against antibiotics and the worldwide spread of untreatable infections.

Dr Eberl stated: “Research conducted by world-leading teams across Cardiff University addresses some of the most pressing public health challenges developed and developing societies are facing, and our mission is to inform, engage and involve the public in this research. Above all, we aim to inspire the next generation of doctors, scientists and generally open-minded, curious people, and show them the fascination of studying how our body works and how we can use this knowledge to improve everyone's quality of life.”

Lectures, workshops and exhibition stalls with information and fun activities explored common medical misconceptions including those around vaccines, the use of antibiotics and decoding the early signs of Sepsis, while The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry took visitors on a virtual reality, 360-degree journey inside the body exploring how today’s technology research may transform tomorrow’s treatment.

Visitors were also be able to enjoy the educational entertainment at Techniquest, with access to the full range of 130 hands-on interactive exhibits.

Lesley Kirkpatrick, CEO at Techniquest, said: “We’re thrilled to be hosting this important event with the scientists at Cardiff University. With its world-class research and medical experts, we’re looking forward to learning all about its findings around antimicrobial resistance. Essential research forms a crucial part of public health and the economy in Wales. We strive to be at the forefront of scientific discovery and debate, and it’s vital that we generate awareness around this global health concern. We welcome members of the public to come along and enjoy the evening, and we’re sure they’ll leave us feeling better informed about the issues surrounding drug resistant infections and leave wanting to know more. With our interactive exhibits and activities on offer, it’s sure to be just as fun as it is informative.”

Dr David Gillespie, Centre for Trials Research, and Dr Micaela Gal, Primary and Emergency Care Research Centre, said: “At Cardiff University, we have a passion for the development, implementation, and evaluation of research aiming to reduce antibiotic resistance. Engaging with the public is a central part of our research by discussing our efforts on improving antibiotic use in primary care across Wales, the UK and the rest of Europe. This has been achieved by studying GP-patient interactions, developing and evaluating appropriate education, and by implementing and evaluating clinical tests.”

The event attracted more than 300 visitors and featured lectures by Prof Kerry Hood (“What's wrong with me, Doctor?”), Dr Maria Mendes de Carvalho (“Global antimicrobial resistance: Why now?”), Prof Peter Ghazal (“Decoding the early signs of sepsis: Messages from the genome”), and Dr James Blaxland (“Bacterial infection? Drink more beer!”).

Visitors also enjoyed an interactive workshop replicating a real laboratory studying 'superbugs', as well as a total of 17 different stalls offering a wide range of information, activities and games. A treasure hunt asking visitors to engage in at least 9 different activities and collect 9 different ‘superbug’ stickers was successfully completed by 171 visitors. Prizes ranged from family tickets for Techniquest and giant microbes to the British Society for Immunology's educational book “Your Amazing Immune System”

The event was a concerted effort by our many enthusiastic helpers and involved the Systems Immunity Research Institute, Division of Infection & Immunity, Division of Population Medicine, Centre for Trials Research, Primary and Emergency Care Research Centre, Wales Kidney Research Unit, BSI South Wales Immunology Group, HealthWise Wales and UK Sepsis Trust as well as the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and Wales Festival of Innovation.

A photo album with impressions from the event can be found on the Facebook page of the Systems Immunity Research Institute.