Pioneering Indian research centre launched to find solutions to excessive use of antibiotics

  • University of Sheffield is part of a landmark collaboration with the MRC and the Government of India to fund three major global research centres
  • UK-India Centre aims to minimise the indiscriminate use of antibiotics
  • Researchers from the University of Sheffield are set to tackle some of the largest global health problems thanks to a landmark collaboration between the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) and the Government of India Department of Biotechnology (DBT)

Nearly £7 million will be invested by the UK, through the MRC and the Newton Fund, and India through the DBT, to develop three major global research centres using high quality research teams – including scientists from the University of Sheffield.

An eye testOne of the ground-breaking centres, the UK-Indian Centre for Advanced Technology for Minimising the Indiscriminate use of Antibiotics (UKICAT-MA), will focus on research into antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and will be led by the University of Sheffield and University of Bradford to establish smart materials for the detection and target delivery of antibiotics for eye infections.

Professor Stephen Rimmer from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Chemistry, who is part of the expert team, said: “Resistance to antibiotics is becoming one of the most important challenges of our age.

“A number of challenges exist if we are to avoid descent into a post-antibiotic age, including the development of: new antibiotics; new diagnostics and improved delivery systems.

“UKICAT-MA will establish materials for both detection, at the point-of-care, of ocular infections and the targeted delivery of antibiotics to infected sites in the eye.

“The enormous benefit of detecting something which works in both a UK and Indian environment is that it will help everyone across the world.”

The Centre involves a multidisciplinary team from the University of Sheffield and University of Bradford (Polymer Chemistry, Clinical and Mechanistic Microbiology and LV Prasad Ophthalmology).

Much of the work is based around the idea that certain materials respond to bacteria by changing state on binding to bacteria.

These conformational changes are then either monitored to provide a signal of the presence of the bacteria or they provide a basis for targeting antibiotics to bacteria whilst reducing effects on surrounding tissues.

UKICAT-MA will develop these smart materials to produce contact lenses that give colour indications of bacterial infections and systems for local delivery of therapeutics to infected ocular tissues.

Dr Mark Palmer MRC Director of International Strategy, said: “With a 100-year history of strategic international collaboration, MRC scientists today collaborate with researchers in more than 100 countries. We know diseases don’t recognise international borders and that addressing health problems around the world demands a global response.

“These exciting partnerships between excellent scientists in India and the UK is a key part of our international effort to pool expertise and resources and deliver research that will make a real difference to global health.”

Prof K VijayRaghavan, Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology, said: “The Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, is delighted to partner with the MRC in creating research centres which will address vexing challenges in medicine through quality science and collaboration. India is committed to working with the best in the world, for India and for the world.

“We are acutely aware that the fruits of our partnership can mean better lives for the most needy everywhere and are committed to make the collaboration succeed.”

Additional information

For more information about the centres please visit

The University of Sheffield

With almost 26,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

In 2014 it was voted number one university in the UK for Student Satisfaction by Times Higher Education and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline, Siemens and Airbus, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

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For further information please contact:

Amy Pullan
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9859