National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship

The National Centre for Antimicrobial Stewardship (NCAS) was established in 2015 as a Centre for Research Excellence through a grant from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

The Centre brings together researchers from the Melbourne Health-Guidance Group, VICNISS, Victorian Infectious Diseases Service, the University of Melbourne-Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, the University of Melbourne-Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences, and Monash University-Faculties of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences and Pharmacy.

NCAS is based at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, and is the first One Health health services research centre.

The primary goals of health services research are to identify the most effective ways to organise, manage, finance and deliver high-quality care; reduce medical errors; and improve patient safety.

With seven higher degree research projects currently underway, and two more slated to commence in 2017, NCAS is supporting urgent research into the scale and effects of the problem of inappropriate antimicrobial use in the clinical treatment of both humans and animals. One of the centre’s key aims is generating research that feeds into the development of effective antimicrobial stewardship (AMS) systems, that is, processes and principles for the implementation and monitoring of optimal antimicrobial prescribing practices.

In November 2016, the NCAS Annual Forum brought together the centre’s chief investigators, associate investigators and PhD fellows, as well as other clinical practitioners and researchers, to discuss the latest developments in the field of AMS, both locally and internationally.

Karin Thursky
Professor Karin Thursky at the 2016 NCAS Forum

Professor Karin Thursky, the director of the centre, presented an overview of the field, drawing on global and local data, and highlighted the vision of Australia’s first National Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Strategy (2015-2019). The Strategy’s implementation plan specifically mentions NCAS as the key research centre for a number of its goals and activities.

Professor Glenn Browning presented on antimicrobial use in animals in Australia, highlighting current practices and community knowledge, and addressing gaps by referencing ongoing research projects.

Professor Ben Howden presented a number of Victorian case studies of laboratory surveillance of AMR, while A/Professor Leon Worth discussed how data can be effectively utilised in the development of AMS programs.

A/Professor Kirsty Buising, NCAS’ deputy director, presented an overview of the government’s regional AMR strategy, focusing in particular on NCAS’ role.

NCAS PhD fellows presented on their research in the various streams: Laura Hardefeldt on AMS in veterinary medicine; Dr. Helen Billman-Jacobe, an associate investigator, on AMS in livestock production; Jaclyn Baker on AMS in rural and regional hospitals in Australia; Leslie Dowson on AMS in long-term care facilities; Lesley Hawes on community and general practice AMS; and Courtney Ierano on AMS in tertiary care, with a particular focus on surgical prophylaxis.

The NCAS team at the 2016 Forum

NCAS researchers have also presented at a number of national and international conferences this year, among them the Australasian College for Infection Prevention and Control Conference in Melbourne (20-23 November), the Asia-Pacific Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infection Conference in Melbourne (30 November – 3 December), the Queensland Forum on Antimicrobial Resistance in Brisbane (14 November), and the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia’s forums on stewardship in Melbourne (March).

In April, May and June, a team of NCAS researchers undertook a number of international research trips as consultants for the World Health Organisation (WHO), travelling to the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos and Mongolia. The aim of these trips was to help the WHO identify and understand stewardship requirements in these and other international jurisdictions.

The coming year will feature further progress in research, conference participation and other educational activities. NCAS invites expressions of interest from researchers who are interested in the field of AMS.