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David Eyre

Dr David Eyre at the Big Data Institute (BDI) has been named a runner up in the Medical Research Foundation’s third annual Emerging Leaders Prize, winning a £5,000 grant.

The Emerging Leaders Prize recognises outstanding scientists who are making a significant impact in the fight against antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Antibiotics are one of the great medical achievements of the 20th century, but their overuse and misuse have led to them becoming ineffective against an increasing number of microbes, posing a serious threat to human life. Drug-resistant infections are thought to cause 700,000 deaths annually across the world, a figure expected to rise to 10 million by 2050 with a cumulative cost of US$100 trillion.

Dr Eyre said: ‘Using this prize fund I will further develop state-of-the-art approaches to detecting infection which are faster than traditional methods that rely on waiting for bacteria to grow in the lab. In collaboration with my colleagues at the BDI, I will also combine these approaches with artificial intelligence techniques to predict which patients are most at risk of antibiotic resistance, and to pick the best antibiotics to use.’

He will base the new methods on DNA sequencing, to detect antibiotic resistance in patients with sepsis and other serious infections. Faster diagnosis will give patients earlier access to the right treatment, saving lives and preventing the spread of resistance by avoiding antibiotic overuse.

Dr Angela Hind, Chief Executive of the Medical Research Foundation, said: ‘We support exciting new research where there is high clinical need, and the increasingly serious threat of drug resistant infections to human lives clearly fits the bill. Through our Emerging Leaders Prize we’re looking for scientists on a trajectory to do something unique and special in their field, and that’s undoubtedly the case with our prize-winners. The prize fund is flexible, meaning the winners decide how best to use it. That could mean spending some time in a lab overseas, buying a cutting-edge piece of technology for their research, or investing in their personal career development.

‘We hope this prize will be transformative for our winners’ research and provide a springboard for the next stage of their careers.’

David is one of four researchers to be awarded Emerging Leaders Prizes this year.