To mark World Antibiotic Awareness Week (14-20 November 2016), the University of Birmingham’s famous clock tower, ‘Old Joe’, will be lit blue to celebrate the world-class antibiotic research happening at the Institute of Microbiology and Infection.


The institute is host to the largest group of microbiologists in Europe, with a focus on finding innovative ways to combat antimicrobial and antibiotic resistance, working across both bacterial and fungal pathogens. In order to do this, researchers have a number of different foci, including studies that involve the highly clinically relevant Gram negative bacteria Pseudomonas and how secreted proteins can cause antibody-dependant enhancement of infection. As well as this, researchers concentrate on bacterial efflux, the ability for bacteria to pump antibiotic out of the cell, causing diminished susceptibility to these drugs.

Professor Laura Piddock, a Professor of Microbiology here at the University and BSAC Chair in Public Engagement, set up ‘Antibiotic Action’, a global initiative which has helped successfully drive policy change surrounding the use of antibiotics. The charitable organisation also takes measures to inform and educate healthcare professionals and the general public about correct use of antibiotics so increased responsibility is taken.

Professor Piddock commented, ‘Now more than ever before, we need to build on basic research to get new treatments to patients as quickly as possible.’

Antibiotic-resistant infections kill at least 700,000 people a year. With all 193 countries of the United Nations recently signing an agreement to combat the problem of antibiotic resistant infection, increased antibiotic awareness is more vital than ever, with World Antibiotic Awareness Week aiming to do this.

‘Old Joe’ is the affectionate name given to the Joseph Chamberlain Memorial Clock Tower located in Chancellor's Court at the University of Birmingham. It is the tallest free-standing clock tower in the world.