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The Ineos Oxford Institute for Antimicrobial Research (IOI) is a new biomedical discovery institute established to lead the science, provide the evidence, and educate the public in ways that support global transformational change to tackle antimicrobial resistance.

A generic picture of bacteria

Ineos Oxford Institute for Antimicrobial Research

About the Institute

The Ineos Oxford Institute for Antimicrobial Research (IOI) was established at the University of Oxford in January 2021 to rapidly advance research, education and collaboration in search of solutions to one of the biggest public health challenges of our time.

Antibiotic resistant bacteria are growing and spreading at alarming rates, leading the WHO to declare that antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity. It is estimated 700,000 people die each year as a result of drug resistant diseases, with this number predicted to increase to over 10 million deaths per year by 2050.

The IOI is a joint initiative, based in the Division of Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences (MPLS), and delivered through the Departments of Chemistry and Zoology. Leadership is provided by an Academic Management Committee (AMC), with research directed by co-Principal Investigators, Professor Tim Walsh (Biology) and Professor Chris Schofield FRS (Chemistry), and programmes in public engagement and policy led by Mr David Sweetnam (AMC Chair).

The Institute was founded through a generous £100 million donation from Ineos, one of the world’s largest chemical and manufacturing companies, with the support of its Chairman, Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Our focus of work

We deliver our work through extensive international collaboration among academic researchers, industry experts and professional advisers who are committed to advancing research and informing action that addresses the challenge of antimicrobial resistance.

Discovery of novel animal antibiotics

Very few compounds are being designed for animal-specific therapies, and none to accompany food additives. This is a big problem because antibiotics in common use - for example, ampicillin, oxytetracycline and colistin - are also used to treat infections in humans, increasing the potential for bacterial resistance to these drugs.

Our aim is to develop new candidate compounds for animal-specific antibiotics that can be taken into in-vivo studies for animal-specific antibiotics. The properties of these compounds will need to include factors such as: cheap to manufacture, unique antibiotic molecular structure, bacteriocidal, and with zero cross-resistance to human antibiotics. Achieving this will provide promising hope to withdraw all human antibiotics from animal use and ensure we preserve the efficacy of human medicines for future generations.

Novel drug design for human antibiotics

We will undertake unique approaches to the design of novel and new antibiotics to be used in human medicine. We are targeting the challenge of multi-drug resistant enterobacteriaceae, including those resistant to carbapenem, colistin and tigecycline, which are an increasingly important cause of sepsis and sepsis shock syndromes.

In addition to exploring novelty, we will not rule our conventional scaffolds such as beta-lactams, beta-lactamase inhibitors, or aminoglycosides, but we will focus on major unmet needs not being addressed by other research groups or industry. The work will synergise with academic research in synthetic chemistry, modelling, structural biology and microbiology. Realising the challenges of this program, we aim to have two candidates for pre-phase 1 clinical trial analysis by 2026. 

Assessing the AMR burden

There are very few studies examining the burden of AMR and whether AMR is linked to increased mortality. Our expertise in microbiology brings critical new perspectives to the challenge of assessing AMR burden and its outcome with bacterial pathogenicity.

We will be undertaking collaborative studies with global surveillance and assessment programmes to understand the impact of antibiotic resistance on neonatal morbidity and mortality, in addition to identifying possible solutions to minimize its impact.

Education and impact

Alongside our research, we are developing innovative educational programmes, including postgraduate degree courses in AMR, and undertaking wide-reaching engagement initiatives to raise public awareness, influence policy and direct action to help prevent the growing threat of drug resistant infections.

Key people

Christopher Schofield, Professor of Organic Chemistry

Chris is a member of the IOI Academic Management Committee and co-Principal Investigator, along with Tim Walsh. He is Head of Organic Chemistry at the University of Oxford, a Professorial Fellow at Hertford College, Oxford, and a Fellow of the Royal Society.

David Sweetnam, Consultant Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgeon

David is Chair of the IOI Academic Management Committee. He is an internationally renowned senior orthopaedic surgeon sub-specialising in all aspects of knee problems.

Timothy Walsh, Professor of Medical Microbiology

Tim is a member of the IOI Academic Management Committee and co-Principal Investigator, along with Chris Schofield. He is Professor of Medical Microbiology in Oxford’s Department of Zoology, and has been studying AMR mechanisms for over 20 years, has published over 350 papers and publishes regularly in Nature and Lancet journals.

Contact

The IOI is currently in start-up phase and a website with further details will be published soon. In the meantime, enquiries about the Institute can be sent to the personal assistant to Tim Walsh at: katherine.mcneil@zoo.ox.ac.uk