MicroGEM plays key role in enabling extraction processes

August 26, 2019 – The Australian Medical Research Futures Fund (MRFF) and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) announced an A$1 million Frontier grant, with the potential for multi-million dollar follow-on funding, to address the global issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR).

The 26-member OUTBREAK Consortium (One-health Understanding Through Bacterial Resistance to Antibiotics Knowledge), is using the funding to develop a cost-efficient, artificial intelligence-powered, Australia-wide system for tracing, tracking and tackling antimicrobial resistance.  This ‘knowledge engine’ will eventually predict global outbreaks and inform worldwide interventions.

As a member of the consortium, MicroGEM’s Chief Scientific Officer, David Saul, provides the PDQeX Nucleic Acid Extractor and long-read-length extraction expertise. “DNA sequences of large, drug-resistance plasmids can be difficult to assemble because of repeated elements. Our long-read capability provides a rapid and effective way to overcome this problem.”

One of 10 projects chosen from a field of over 150 proposals, the consortium seeks to reduce person-to-person transmissions and hospital stays, as well as propagation in the environment and agricultural systems. The project will advance global digital health capabilities to ultimately create a worldwide AI-powered network of AMR surveillance and mitigation.

“This big data project brings together information from humans, animals, plants and the environment to address the location-specific and person-specific threat of an antibiotic-resistant infection,” stated Branwen Morgan, Executive Officer of the OUTBREAK Project. “OUTBREAK’s AI-powered system will overcome many of the deficiencies inherent in current surveillance systems that are largely retrospective and suffer from massive data black holes.”

In addition to MicroGEM, the OUTBREAK Consortium is represented by team members from:

  • University of Technology Sydney
  • University of South Australia,
  • University of Wollongong
  • University of Newcastle
  • Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
  • NSW Department of Primary Industries
  • Sax Institute
  • Quadram Institute
  • Sensing Value
  • Microba
  • Southern-IML Pathology
  • Oracle
  • Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District.

Read the UTS press release. Find out more about the project launch.