December 7, 2021

VUMC awarded CDC funding to combat antimicrobial resistance, infectious diseases

Vanderbilt has partnered with the CDC to combat the crisis of antimicrobial resistance and other healthcare threats through a newly created Global Action in Healthcare Network (GAIHN).


by Jessica Pasley

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to combat the crisis of antimicrobial resistance and other healthcare threats through a newly created Global Action in Healthcare Network (GAIHN).

GAIHN is one of two global networks funded by $22 million in CDC grants that pairs nearly 30 organizations around the world and spans more than 50 countries.

GAIHN’s focus is to reduce threats like antimicrobial-resistant infections, health care-associated infections and COVID-19 through infection prevention and control.

VUMC is one of six organizations, funded by GAIHN, to work in various areas of the world. VUMC received nearly $1 million to implement programming for the first year of a 5-year project.

Ritu Banerjee, MD, PhD, and her colleagues are studying a new way to determine whether antibiotics will be effective against certain bacterial infections.
Ritu Banerjee, MD, PhD

Ritu Banerjee, MD, associate professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, serves as the principal investigator at VUMC and is leading a network of hospitals in Greece and Israel, to enhance lab capacity to rapidly detect highly drug resistant bacteria and strengthen infection control responses within hospitals once these bacteria are identified.

“Both Greece and Israel have high rates of drug resistant bacteria,” said Banerjee. “We applied for this grant with those particular countries and hospitals in mind.”

Banerjee’s team is targeting one of the most highly drug resistant bacteria called Carbapenem resistant Enterobacterales (CRE), which are very transmissible, difficult to treat and cause poor outcomes.

“CRE are among the most urgent AMR (antimicrobial resistant) threats,” said Banerjee. “What is unique about these strains is that they carry resistance genes that make our usual first-line antibiotics ineffective”

CRE can affect all age groups, have been seen in the United States, including at VUMC, but are more common in other parts of the world.

Banerjee hopes the global collaboration between organizations through this network will help highlight what has led to the emergence of these highly resistant strains — antibiotic misuse and overuse and poor infection control.

“The indiscriminate use of antibiotics is a huge factor,” she said. “Many countries have over-the-counter antibiotics available without prescriptions and even in countries like ours, which require prescriptions to obtain antibiotics, they are not always prescribed appropriately.

“The focus of our work in this CDC network is rapid detection and containment of CRE so that they don’t further spread within these hospitals. We will work with these facilities to enhance their lab testing to quickly detect resistance, and support infection prevention and control interventions.”

Banerjee’s VUMC team includes, Tom Talbot, MD, MPH, professor of Medicine and chief hospital epidemiologist, Lynne Berry, PhD, deputy director, Center for Quantitative Science, Yu Shyr, PhD, Harold L. Moses Professor of Cancer Research and chair of the Department of Biostatistics, and Amanda Mixon, MD, MSPH, associate professor of Medicine.

The team is working with the CDC to finalize details of the project and anticipates working directly with the participating hospitals in early 2022.