Appeal to build The Fleming Centre is launched, with HRH Prince William announced as Patron
Today Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Imperial College London have launched an appeal to build The Fleming Centre, which will drive a global movement to tackle antimicrobial resistance.
Due to open in 2028, the Centre will be based at the historic St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London. His Royal Highness Prince William, The Prince of Wales will be Patron of the appeal.
The opening of the Centre in 2028 will mark a century since the discovery of penicillin, the first antibiotic, by Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928 at St Mary’s. Fleming’s original Laboratory is still housed there.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is an urgent global public health threat. It occurs when the microorganisms which cause infection develop resistance to treatments (such as antibiotics and antifungals), leading to an increase in drug-resistant infections. AMR already kills over one million people around the world each year, and is a growing challenge in treating infections such at tuberculosis.
It has been caused in part by the widespread misuse and overuse of antibiotics and other antimicrobials, in humans and livestock, which has led to the global spread of drug-resistant microbes. If the problem is not resolved, it is estimated that by 2050, drug-resistant microbes will lead to around ten million deaths per year.
In order to effectively tackle AMR, global awareness and behaviour change is needed alongside rapid scientific advances. The aim of The Fleming Centre– is to put society at the heart of solving this problem.
Chaired by Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham, the Fleming Centre will combine cutting edge research, public engagement, and work with policymakers to drive a global change. It will deliver both research programmes and public exhibitions and engagement activities to educate, inspire and take action. It will convene diverse global voices and build consensus for change.
At the Centre, scientists will work alongside patients, members of the public and policy makers to scope, test and scale solutions, so that antimicrobials can continue to keep the world safe.
The ambition is that this transformative approach will act as a blueprint which can be shared and adapted to local contexts around the globe.
As Patron of the appeal to build the Centre, Prince William will support efforts over the next five years to make these ambitious plans to overcome global AMR a reality.
Professor the Lord Darzi of Denham, Chair of the Fleming Initiative “At the Fleming Centre, Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust are driving solutions to antimicrobial resistance that are co-designed with patients, the public and policy makers and underpinned by a rich and diverse evidence base. We are making behavioural science and public involvement the cornerstones of the radical change that’s needed to influence individual behaviour and policy decisions.”
Professor Tim Orchard, chief executive of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “I’m delighted that Prince William has become Patron of the appeal to create The Fleming Centre. This is a hugely important initiative that will help to tackle one of the biggest challenges facing our healthcare system.
“St Mary’s Hospital is a site of many medical breakthroughs, including the discovery of penicillin by Sir Alexander Fleming almost a century ago. Alongside our partners at Imperial College London, we are proud to be continuing this legacy with this world-leading centre.
“The Fleming Centre is also a key part of our Paddington Life Sciences development, which aims to create a thriving ecosystem for life sciences research and innovation in London. It will be a major asset for the UK and make a real difference to the global fight against antimicrobial resistance.”
Professor Hugh Brady, President of Imperial College London, said: “Almost 100 years ago, Sir Alexander Fleming’s discovery at St Mary’s changed the world. Today that medical breakthrough, now so fundamental to daily medical procedures and treatments, is at risk. Antimicrobial resistance poses an urgent global threat to health, and demands innovative solutions and ways of working.
“Through initiatives like our Institute of Infection, Imperial College London has one of the largest critical masses of infectious disease researchers in the world. The Fleming Centre will bring together our world-leading research expertise with the legacy and clinical excellence of our partners at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, helping to drive global change and tackle one of the world’s biggest challenges head on.”
Professor Dame Sally Davies, UN Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance, said: “The Fleming Centre initiative is the global movement we need to kickstart the behaviour change required to protect our antibiotics. We need science but we also need people to change behaviours towards antibiotics. We've all got to change now or I predict we will wake up too late.”
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization: “Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin in 1928 completely changed the face of medicine, making previously lethal infections treatable and saving countless lives.
“Nearly a century later, the tide of antimicrobial resistance is eroding those gains and putting a hundred years of medical progress at risk. To protect future generations everywhere from potentially life-threatening infections, there is a vital need for transformative research and education to change prescribing practices and identify new antibiotics.”
Professor Anthony D. So, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Director, ReAct's Strategic Policy Program, ReAct—Action on Antibiotic Resistance: “Without effective antibiotics, attaining Universal Health Care and the Sustainable Development Goals will not be possible. Only by investing now to address antibiotic resistance can we ensure a future free from untreatable infections. I welcome the Fleming Centre’s exciting initiative to bring together scientists, policymakers and civil society in an innovative and collaborative approach to tackle AMR.”
“We are running out of time in our global fight against AMR’’ said H.E. Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados and Chair of the Global Leaders Group on AMR. ‘’We urgently need multidisciplinary research not only to develop new antibiotics but also to preserve the existing ones, and I welcome the establishment of the Center in this spirit’’
To find out more about the Fleming Centre, click here.