Illinois team awarded £1 million for new technologies to help farmers and health workers combat antimicrobial resistance

6/25/2024 Trinity Challenge Communications

Written by Trinity Challenge Communications

The Trinity Challenge recently announced four winning teams of its second competition aimed at tackling the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The projects receiving funds are all focused on addressing significant data gaps in communities and lower-income countries that are disproportionately affected by antibiotic-resistant infections.

The winner of the grand prize of £1 million is Farm2Vet: Combatting AMR on the Farm Frontier. Led by a team of researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Farm2Vet, based in Vietnam, aims to create a new platform that will encourage responsible antibiotic use in food-producing animals by offering farmers instant, low-cost access to trusted veterinary services for disease diagnosis and treatment advice. As well as directly supporting farmers, the data gathered by the platform will inform policymakers by identifying hotspots of antibiotic resistance and allowing action to be taken to prevent outbreaks.

Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chair, the Trinity Challenge and UK Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance, said, “The vision and hard work of our winners has been inspiring. They each show that everyone can make a difference and be part of the solution to the antibiotic emergency; no one has the whole answer, but we can each still act. For example, with their plans to create a new platform for farmers to access diagnosis and treatment advice for their animals, our grand prize winner is focusing on the food chain, and yet creating a powerful solution that can generate data to fill our knowledge gaps and inform decision-makers.”

Side-by-side photos featuring a man and woman smiling at the camera
Civil and environmental engineering professor Helen Nguyen (left) and pathobiology professor Csaba Vargo (right)

Accepting the grand prize, civil and environmental engineering professor Helen Nguyen, Team Lead, Farm2Vet, said, “I am overwhelmed. I would like to express our tremendous gratitude to the Trinity Challenge. With your support, we can tackle AMR in a way that has never been done before. We will use the power of technology to extend the reach of veterinary services to remote farmers in many corners of Vietnam and, hopefully, learn lessons that can be extended to other countries too.

“At first, we thought, ‘What if anyone at any time can have access to a vet?’ It sounded like science fiction, but we realised we do have the technology, veterinary expertise and community engagement to do it. We hope that farmers will benefit, but that we can also create sustainability in the agricultural supply chain, and also protect workers and families from infectious disease. We are not isolated from each other – when we stop microbes becoming resistant, we can protect ourselves and the environment at the same time.”

Illinois professor of pathobiology Csaba Varga adds, “Providing trusted veterinary advice for farmers will improve disease management on farms and reduce the use of antimicrobials and the development of antimicrobial resistance.”

The winners of the joint second prize, each receiving £600,000, are AMRSense: Empowering Communities with a Proactive One Health Ecosystem and OASIS: OneHealth Antimicrobial Stewardship for Informal Health Systems. Both projects are based in India and aim to empower community health workers and informal caregivers with new technologies to gather data on AMR at the community level.

The winner of the third prize of £500,000 is AMRoots: Grassroots AMR in small scale farming communities. Based in South Africa, AMRoots will generate new data on the development and transmission of antibiotic resistance in livestock farming communities that are critical for the future food security of sub-Saharan Africa.

All winners of the Trinity Challenge on Antimicrobial Resistance will also receive ongoing post-award innovation and scaling support as they implement their solutions from a network of technological and health organizations such as Amazon Web Service, the Gate Foundation, and the Welcome Trust, among others.

Professor Marc Mendelson, Director, the Trinity Challenge, said, “In order to protect the power of antibiotics now and in the future, we decided to focus this Challenge on a major gap in data at the community level, across One Health, and in low- and middle- income countries where the burden of bacterial infections is highest. As a One Health Challenge, I am delighted that our winners have solutions to mitigate antibiotic resistance and improve our understanding in both human and animal health. I am excited to work with these teams as their innovations come to life.”

About Antimicrobial Resistance

It is predicted that by 2050 antimicrobial resistance (AMR) will result in 10 million additional deaths a year if strategies are not implemented now to counter this threat. The speed at which antibiotic resistance is growing is a direct response to misuse and overuse of antibiotics across our healthcare systems and the food industry. The situation with respect to antibiotic resistance in bacteria has developed to the point that it now threatens our health, food, environment and global security.

About The Trinity Challenge

The Trinity Challenge (TTC) is a charity supporting the creation of data-driven solutions to help protect against global health threats.

We believe data and analytics hold the key to building effective, affordable, and scalable solutions to current and future pandemics and health emergencies, and we are committed to working with governments, individuals and organisations across the world, to help improve our resilience against current and future threats to global health.

The Trinity Challenge on Antimicrobial Resistance has been made possible through funding from the Ineos Oxford Institute for antimicrobial research, the Institute of Philanthropy empowered by The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the Patrick J McGovern Foundation, and Wellcome.


The Grainger College of Engineering Marketing & Communications office contributed to this report.

Read original Trinity Challenge press release.

Helen Nguyen is also an affiliate of the Health Care Engineering Systems Center, the Carle Illinois College of Medicine, and the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois.

Csaba Varga is also an affiliate of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology at Illinois.

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This story was published June 25, 2024.