Giant floating E.coli sculpture returns to Winter Gardens to celebrate launch of Florey Institute

A giant floating E.coli sculpture has returned to the Winter Gardens to celebrate the official launch of our Florey Institute, which aims to tackle the global problem of antibiotic resistance and infectious disease.

The giant floating E.coli sculpture in the Winter Gardens.

The sculpture, created by installation artist Luke Jerram, is five million times bigger than a real E.coli measuring 28 metres long.

The bacterium has been scaled up to such a size that if a person standing next to it was expanded to the same extent they would be about 9,000,000 metres tall – the equivalent of 29,527,000 feet or 5,592 miles, which is the same as travelling from the UK to Japan.

The use of bacteria is vital in medical research, and although some forms of E. coli can cause illness or even death, it is simultaneously described by scientists as the workhorse of biochemistry, with E. coli bacteria used to replicate DNA, synthesise proteins and as a model to understand the basic principles of life.

The Florey Institute is named in honour of Sir Howard Florey, former Chair of Pathology at our University, who conducted the first ever clinical trials of penicillin – a drug which went onto save more than 82 million lives worldwide. Today, with the efficacy of antimicrobial compounds decreasing globally, and infectious bacterial species becoming increasingly resistant, we need new ways to combat infectious disease.

The interdisciplinary team of researchers at the Florey Institute focus on understanding the interaction between ineffective bacteria (pathogen) and our own immune systems (host) to tackle the rising global threat of antimicrobial resistance and reduce the burden of infectious disease.

On 19-20 September 2017, the Florey Institute, in partnership with the Sheffield Antimicrobial Resistance Network (SHAMROK) which is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), are jointly hosting a two day symposium ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ in the Diamond building which will highlight recent advances in bacterial pathogenesis and host-pathogen interactions.

The symposium, along with the reinstallation of the inflatable E.coli and a weekend of fun family activities on 16-17 September in the Winter Garden, form a collective programme of events to celebrate the official launch of this flagship initiative funded by the EPSRC.

The Florey Institute and The Drugs Don’t Work