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16 million for antibiotics research

He managed to make the cut of the Research Council. Rafi Ahmad at the Department of Biotechnology in Hamar can now continue his vital research on antibiotic resistance.

Rafi Ahmad in his laboratory (Photo: HINN)

Pleased with the achievement: Associate Professor Rafi Ahmad could rejoice as he was grunted millions in support for his research towards saving lives around the world.

Photo: Private

Ahmad competed with 16 other projects in the field to receive support from the Research Council.

Last week came the announcement – three of the applications have been approved, including Rafi's – the only one from the higher education sector in Norway.

“I'm very proud! I am also very happy that we can continue what we have started here that is very important to society,” says the researcher.

The Research Council wrote in its press release from last week that Rafi's project will develop knowledge about measures that contribute to understanding, managing and preventing the development of antimicrobial resistance across public health, animal health and the external environment.

Start-up is October 1, with a duration of four years.

Rapid diagnostics

Rafi Ahmad is conducting vital research in every sense of the term. This research has the potential to mean a lot to the world.

This is because today it takes several days to cultivate a bacterial culture to see what kind of bacteria one is facing. When you get the answer to that, you also know what kind of antibiotics to use.

The long time it takes to get an answer leads to much incorrect use of antibiotics. If a patient is seriously ill, a medical professional does not have time to wait, and treatment must be started immediately.

Improper use of antibiotics costs the lives of between 1.3 and 5 million people in the world every year and also leads to more antibiotic resistance.

Rafi is researching methods to reduce the test time to between one and six hours.

Adding the fact that this has significant monetary consequences as well, it’s easy to see that Rafi's research is ground-breaking and highly important.

Bilde av Biohuset i Hamar
It is in Biohuset on the Hamar campus that Rafi Ahmad will research how to more quickly find out what kind of antibiotics to use when people need them. (Photo: Espen Kristiansen / INN University)

This is important

More specifically, this project will thus develop rapid diagnostics related to both human and animal health, which in turn will contribute to reduced and more accurate use of antibiotics. 

A key concept here is One Health. It is used to describe a principle that recognizes that human and animal health are interrelated. Diseases are transmitted from humans to animals and vice versa and must therefore be fought in both.

We have seen very concrete and dramatic examples of this in the last two years.

The project collaborates with partners in India and Sri Lanka.

This fits well – Rafi is originally from India and knows the region and its challenges well. The collaboration countries have the same challenges with antimicrobial resistance as many other countries in the world.

– What does it mean for you and your research that you receive this support and the opportunity to continue working for four years?

“The main goal for me and everyone in the research group here is to save lives. I think it is important for research to have a positive effect on the society around us. What we work with are global health issues, so this is important,” says Rafi Ahmad.

Proud of Rafi

Portrettbilde av Frøydis Deinboll Myromslien
Head of Department Frøydis Deinboll Myromslien

At the department Rafi Ahmad is associated with, there were also many who were happy when the announcement came. One of them was Head of Department Frøydis Deinboll Myromslien.

“I think the grunt is absolutely fantastic. I'm very excited, along with Rafi and I'm impressed with what he's accomplished!

– What does this mean for you at the Department of Biotechnology?

“This means a lot both professionally and financially. We have a goal that our R&D activity should be relevant both nationally and internationally, and this affirms this. In addition, external funding is a prerequisite for us to be able to conduct research activity at our department,” says Myromslien.

The Research Council is also very clear about the fact that this is research that means something for the future.

“Norwegian health research maintains a high international level and creates great economic value for Norwegian society. These exciting projects will contribute to maintaining the ability of healthcare to offer high-quality services,” says CEO of the Research Council of Norway Mari Sundli Tveit.

Contact information

Picture of Rafi Ahmad
Associate Professor
+47 62 51 78 45


Collaboration partners

In addition to INN University, the OH-AMR-Diag consortium has the following partners: 2 academic institutions (University of Tromsø and Harvard University), 2 hospitals (Oslo University Hospital and All India Inst. of Medical Sciences -Delhi), 3 Industry partners  (TINE, Animalia & Klosser Innovasjon), 2 NGOs (Health Information Systems Programs (HISP) India & HISP Sri Lanka), 1 National Cluster of Expertise (Heidner Biocluster) and 1 Professional Organization (European Section of Infections in Urology).


This article was translated from Norwegian by Noorit Larsen

Tags: Antibiotics, resistance, research By Ole Martin Ringlund
Published June 28, 2022 9:00 AM - Last modified June 28, 2022 11:19 AM