Dr Stephanie Neville receives Dean’s Innovation Award

Congratulations to Dr Stephanie Neville (Dept of Microbiology & Immunology) who has been awarded the 2021 Dean’s Innovation Award for her research into bacterial antibiotic resistance.

Winning an award is always satisfying but an award for new ideas is an entirely different proposition. The Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences Dean’s Innovation Grants explores and rewards key ideas, new theories and concepts.

The grant scheme aims to boost the Faculty’s commercial pipeline for scientific discoveries by supporting the development of innovative projects to a stage where they are well positioned to attract subsequent funding from government, industry or venture capital to progress to the next phase of Research & Development.

Dr Stephanie Neville is from the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the Doherty Institute and the 2021 winner of the Dean’s Innovation Award. The grant of $50,000 will allow her to tackle a silent enemy: to address the global issue of bacterial antibiotic resistance and the current implications facing all of us.

Antibiotic resistance is caused by the overuse or misuse of our current antibiotics, and the result is that people are now contracting bacterial infections that doctors have no way to treat. Without a more efficient pipeline for novel antibiotic development, we need another solution for combatting this issue globally.

Dr Neville and her collaborators are investigating the use of ‘ionophores’. These are small molecules that are able to move high concentrations of metal ions into bacterial cells. When ionophores are given with our current in-use antibiotics, they are able to break antibiotic resistance in bacterial ESKAPE pathogens, making our old antibiotics work again.

With the support from the Dean’s Innovation Grant, Dr Neville and her team will start the process of therapeutically developing ionophores to be given with current antibiotics. The hope is that this will allow researchers to overcome antibiotic resistance by rescuing our current antibiotic arsenal.

This article was originally published by the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, 15 December 2021.

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