Southampton University Scientists Hunt for Answers to save Antibiotics


Scientists at the University of Southampton are launching an innovative study to prevent the growing number of bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

Dr. Jaimie Ellis, a sociologist and research fellow at the Faculty of Health Sciences, is launching a study to find out the rationale that people have for why they use antibiotic medication, and how they use it.

Dr. Ellis’ research comes at a time when antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, such as MRSA, are on the increase – with the World Health Organisation (WHO) warning that effective antibiotic medication could be rendered useless by 2050.

Dr. Ellis wants to understand what motivates people to take medication the most. Attribution:
Dr. Ellis wants to understand what motivates people to take medication the most. Attribution:

Antibiotics have been a prevalent part of modern healthcare since Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928.

Talking to the Daily Echo, Dr. Ellis warned that growing resistance to antibiotics could mean that common conditions such as the common cold, coughs, throat or ear infections could eventually become fatal.

The NHS have previously warned of the consequences of inappropriate uses and prescription of antibiotics as part of European Antibiotic Awareness Day. Where conditions such as the common cold should not be treated with antibiotics, because these are viral infections – not bacterial ones.

She told the Echo

We need to act and preserve the effectiveness of the antibiotics we have now – so they can be given to the people who need them most such as the elderly, the young or people with underlying health conditions and also to ensure they are effective when they are used to protect after surgery, chemotherapy and child birth.

Dr. Ellis’ research examines how doctors, family members, friends, social networks and websites on the internet influences people to take medication. She clarified the importance of the study by specifying that

Understanding people’s decision making processes, and their understanding of antibiotic resistance will be an important step forward in helping to tackle antimicrobial resistance. We want to get a variety of views from people of all ages.

Anyone prescribed with medication for a cough, cold, chest infection, ear infection, or throat infection in the past few months can help Dr. Ellis by participating in this study. If you are interested in taking part, contact Dr. Ellis on 023 8059 7776 or email


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