New centre tackles one of the world's greatest health challenges

7 Sep 2015

The fight against superbugs will advance tomorrow (Tuesday 8 September) with the launch of a new research centre aimed at stopping antibiotic-resistant bacteria in their tracks.

The IMB Centre for Superbug Solutions, based at The University of Queensland’s Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), will see researchers, doctors and policymakers join forces to battle bacterial infections resistant to current drugs.

Centre Director Professor Matt Cooper said the World Health Organization had named superbugs one of the world’s greatest health challenges.

“Superbugs are reducing our ability to treat common infectious diseases, increasing health care costs and putting patients around the world at greater risk,” Professor Cooper said.

“In Australia alone, bacterial infections kill more than 7000 people each year and, if we don’t take action, we are in danger of returning to the pre-antibiotic era when a simple scratch could kill you.

“The IMB Centre for Superbug Solutions will develop new antibiotics to which bacteria are less likely to become resistant and improve diagnosis so critically ill patients get the drugs they need in time.

“We’ll also educate the public and clinicians on how and when to use antibiotics appropriately.”

Matthew Ames, an antibiotic awareness advocate and father of four, will also speak at the centre launch.

He will share his experience of losing all of his arms and legs to a bacterial infection and how it has affected his life and family. 

“I was admitted to emergency in June 2012 after originally being diagnosed with the flu, but in fact I had a Strep A infection that eventually led to septic shock,” Mr Ames said.

“The only way to save my life was to amputate all four of my limbs, which has left me profoundly disabled.

“I hope that a growing awareness of how serious bacterial infections can be and improved methods for diagnosing them will mean other people receive the right treatment in time to prevent a similar incident.”

The launch will be facilitated by journalist Madonna King and will include talks by Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young and Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Department of Intensive Care Medicine Director Professor Jeffrey Lipman.

The Centre's main project is the Community for Open Antimicrobial Drug Discovery (CO-ADD), a global not-for-profit initiative searching to discover antibiotics capable of combating resistant bacteria.

The launch will be streamed live from 6pm AEST on Tuesday 8 September. To register to watch the launch via livestream, visit:

Professor Cooper was recently interviewed by Dr Lee Hickey from Science over Coffee on 'Antibiotics and the Emerging Superbug Threat'. Watch here:

Media: Ruth Neale,, 0487 955 790;  IMB Communications,, 07 3346 2134 or 0418 575 247.