Antibiotics Unearthed

Antibiotics Unearthed is continuing in 2017, following on from two successful years of our project crowdsourcing for new antibiotics, inspired by the Small World Initiative™, the Microbiology Society is very pleased to announce it will continue this public engagement venture as ‘Antibiotics Unearthed’ in 2017.

Antibiotics Unearthed gives the general public, students and educators in the UK and Ireland the opportunity to work with scientists as part of a global initiative to discover new antibiotics from soil bacteria. Most antibiotics in current use have come from soil bacteria. For example, Actinomycetes produce over 60% of clinically important antibiotics. The Small World Initiative, first organised by Yale University, is an innovative and authentic research project, which uses crowdsourcing to discover new antibiotics from soil bacteria. It is now running in higher education institutions across the US. It is hoped that exposing their undergraduates to research experiences will inspire them to major in a science-based degree. The Society is taking the project further by including school pupils and the general public.

Undergraduate and school students will analyse their samples for antibacterial compounds and investigate any potential compounds that are found. In 2015, 6 undergraduate courses and 7 school partnerships ran the project, and in 2016, 7 undergraduate courses and 6 school partnerships also took part. A series of ‘pop-up’ events are also taking place at locations across the UK, giving the public the opportunity to submit their soil samples, which they can then make observations and track online through the analysis process.

Useful links

Longitude Prize
The Longitude Prize needs you
RCUK highlights initiatives to tackle antimicrobial resistance
Small World Initiative
WHO AMR report
Yale University

Contact us

For further information on Antibiotics Unearthed, please contact the Education and Outreach Team on or 0207 685 2677.

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