Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Education for Antibiotic Researchers

The Global Antibiotic Development Partnership (GARDP) has teamed up with CARB-Xto provide training to current and future antibiotic researchers and developers. I have been pushing this since 2004 when I recognized that the continued consolidation within industry and the abandonment of antibiotic research in industry was going to leave us without experienced antibiotic hunters in the near future.  That future has arrived! My experience in reviewing hundreds of grant requests from biotech and academia clearly demonstrates the lack of basic understanding of the fundamentals of drug discovery among today’s generation of would-be antibiotic researchers. A number of us experienced antibiotic researchers are retired, have been fired, or are now working on oncology or autoimmunity or in neurosciences or in diagnostics. Our expertise will be lost if we don’t do something to pass it on to a new generation. I have been trying to find a way forward for this for the last 15 years without success until now. GARDP and CARB-X are stepping up to the plate!

Before I get to the great work by GARDP and CARB-X, I ask – where is the National Institutes of Health here in the US on this? For more on this see one of my blogs from a few years ago. NIH (in spite of their “in kind” participation in CARB-X) is still very much on the sidelines in this educational effort as far as I can tell.

The GARDP-CARB-X effort kicked off last fall at the ASM-ESCMID meeting in Boston with three “bootcamps” for antibiotic researchers (entire talks via the links below). 

Antibiotic Bootcamp: What Makes a Good Hit? Why and How Do You Write a TPP? -


Antibiotic Bootcamp: Clinical Microbiology for a Development Program -


Antibiotic Bootcamp: How Does a Molecule Become a Physical Medicine to be Given to a Human -


GARDP and CARB-X just sponsored a symposium at the ECCMID meeting in Madrid, Spain (slides only).


Marco Cavaleri (EMA): EU regulatory tools for expedited antibacterial development programmes


Sumati Nambiar (FDA): US regulatory tools for expedited antibacterial development programmes

William Hope (Liverpool): PK-PD in support of accelerated programmes: how much is enough?

John Rex: Alternatives to (classical) antibiotics: what will it take to convincingly develop a virulence inhibitor or similar indirect agent?

GARDP has started providing a series of webinars. The first three webinars (presented by me) are on Clinical Development and they are specifically targeting scientists and others who are not clinical developers.  The idea is to provide an understanding to discovery researchers of the various development pathways available for new antibiotics and the risks that might be entailed for given types of products. The first webinar, focusing on traditional development pathways (Tiers A and B) has been prerecorded and is available here. A live version will take place on June 13, 2018.  You can preregister to listen and ask questions here.  Two additional webinars in this series will include one on the development of antibiotics targeting specific pathogens and another on enhancers and non-traditional approaches.  The dates for those have yet to be established, but both of them will include a panel of experts to provide information and answer questions. 

GARDP and CARB-X also plan symposia for the ASM Microbe in Atlanta and for the ASM-ESCMID meeting in Lisbon, Portugal later this year. 

I attended the first two bootcamps last year in Boston. I was incredibly impressed with the quality of the presentations, the speakers and the slides.  I am also extremely grateful that all of this is publicly available for anyone who wants to view the program now and in the future. I believe that all of the programs coming from GARDP and CARB-X will provide a similar high level of quality.  What I do not guarantee is that all of the experts will agree with each other on all topics. It’s going to be your problem to work your way through any controversies.  But at the very least, we will all start with a more advanced understanding of the subject.  

Many many thanks to GARDP and CARB-X for taking up this gauntlet and meeting the challenge head on!




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