Two new One Health PhD studentship projects with NHS Highland

Two PhD projects have been funded in Scotland which demonstrate the importance of the One Health approach in addressing current environmental challenges.

The first PhD project, One Health Prescribing – New Analytical Methods to Inform Formulary Changes to Chiral Pharmaceuticals for Environmentally Friendlier Medicines, aims to develop a One Health approach to pharmaceutical formulation, taking into account the impact of pharmaceuticals on humans, animals, and the environment. Approximately 50% of all pharmaceuticals are chiral and exist as two or more forms known as enantiomers. Different effects are observed on the human body and on non-target organisms in the environment. Yet, the formulation of these medicines only considers the effects in the human body, and not the environment. The Hydronation studentship aims to develop and validate new enantiomer specific methods for pharmaceuticals of concern in Scotland, investigate the presence, fate, and effects of pharmaceutical enantiomers in the environment, and determine and promote formulary changes to chiral medicines for a safer environment. This project highlights the importance of considering the One Health approach in pharmaceutical formulation, to reduce the environmental impact of pharmaceuticals while maintaining their therapeutic effects. The four-year project, funded by the Scottish Government’s Hydro Nation Scholars Programme, involves researchers at Robert Gordon University and OHBP co-founder Prof. Sharon Pfleger of NHS Highland, and will start in October 2023

The second PhD project, Surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in the Scottish population by wastewater-based epidemiology, aims to establish a wastewater-based epidemiology approach for monitoring antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in the Scottish population. AMR is one of the most significant threats to global health, and surveillance of AMR is essential to strengthen our knowledge and evidence base for the development and monitoring of interventions. The analysis of wastewater from entire cities offers a unique opportunity to monitor AMR at a population level, providing a fast and cost-effective alternative to traditional sampling of individuals. The studentship aims to establish a comprehensive and nationwide understanding of AMR in the Scottish population by identifying AMR genes of interest in Scottish wastewater, determining the fate of resistant genes in wastewater during sewer transport, investigating geographical bias and temporal trends in AMR gene presence and abundance, studying the relationship between AMR and antimicrobial use in the Scottish population, and comparing the AMR burden in healthcare settings compared to the general population. This project, funded by Medical Research Scotland, highlights the potential of the One Health approach in addressing the global challenge of AMR. The four-year project is based at Robert Gordon University, and invovles the James Hutton Institute and Sharon Pfleger at NHS Highland, and will also begin in October 2023.

These two PhD projects demonstrate the importance of the One Health approach in addressing current health challenges, and promote multidisciplinary research that considers the impact of human, animal, and environmental factors, to deliver effective and sustainable solutions.

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