A grant of £4.2m has been awarded to researchers investigating the prevention and control of healthcare-associated infections, the Scottish Government has announced.
The funding has been provided to a consortium of researchers to establish a new Scottish Healthcare Associated Infection Prevention Institute (SHAIPI) over the next five years.
Starting in April, the institute will establish a virtual hub of 19 investigators from the universities of Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Glasgow Caledonian, St Andrews and Strathclyde who will work together with health boards and strategic partners.
“Finding new ways of caring for and treating patients is at the centre of this research”
The institute will be tasked with developing new interventions to prevent the spread of infection, research new ways of using existing antibiotics more effectively and efficiently, and develop new genome-based diagnostic tools to identify current and emerging infections.
It will also be asked to use data more effectively by developing predictive models that can identify at risk patients who might be prone to into healthcare-associated infections or who might have increased mortality as a result.
The consortium of researchers will be led by Professor Alistair Leanord, director of the Scottish Infection Research Network at the University of Glasgow.
Professor Leanord said: “This new institute will allow researchers from a number of universities throughout Scotland to work together, alongside the NHS, to develop and use state of the art methods to identify, prevent and treat patients affected by healthcare associated infections.
“Finding new ways of caring for and treating patients is at the centre of this research,” he said.
Scottish health secretary Shona Robison said the investment was about taking the “next step” to reduce infections even further, noting that cases of C. difficile and MRSA fell to among their lowest levels on record during 2014.
Ms Robison said: “This is one of the single biggest research grants awarded in recent years that aims to investigate ways to further reduce healthcare-associated infections. This is truly a national effort.”