Professor Sharon Peacock CBE, Professor of Clinical Microbiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), has joined the Independent Scientific Group which advises RUMA. She will sit alongside other eminent researchers and scientists from the veterinary, medical and microbiological field, providing insight and recommendations to inform RUMA’s policy on the responsible use of medicines in farm animals.
Professor Peacock joined the LSHTM in 2015, having previously been Professor of Clinical Microbiology in the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge. She is also an Honorary Faculty Member at the Wellcome Sanger Institute.
Her research group work focuses on the use of genome sequencing technologies in clinical and public health microbiology. Particular interests include translating sequencing technologies in routine clinical medicine to improve infection control, and characterising relationships and transmission of pathogenic bacteria between different reservoirs, including humans, livestock and the food chain, and sewage.
Speaking of her decision to join the group, Professor Peacock says she looks forward to contributing her knowledge of antimicrobial resistance, including evidence from the use of bacterial sequencing which – when combined with epidemiological information – can define how antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in people, animals and the environment may be related.
She says: “The UK farming industry is making great strides in responding to the challenge of antimicrobial resistance, especially in its reductions and clear targets. But new information is emerging all the time, and using this to target activities where they will be most effective will be beneficial for everyone.
“I look forward to working with this highly expert group and advising RUMA on policies that create the greatest opportunities for safeguarding antibiotics that are essential for human and animal health.”
Catherine McLaughlin, chair of the Independent Scientific Group, has welcomed Professor Peacock’s agreement to join the team. She says it is critical that RUMA operates to strict scientific principles and embraces opportunities to work on a One Health basis with medical and environmental counterparts.
Ms McLaughlin says: “We have seen a very positive move away from the ‘blame game’ where the medical and veterinary and farming communities blame each other for increasing levels of antimicrobial resistance. Now everyone is taking collective responsibility and working together really well under the One Health banner.
“We look forward to Professor Peacock adding further medical and environmental input to the group in its regular discussions.”
RUMA’s Independent Scientific Group, now comprises (alphabetically):
- Professor David Barrett, Professor of Bovine Medicine, Production and Reproduction at University of Bristol (deputised by Dr Kristen Reyher, Senior Lecturer in Farm Animal Science at University of Bristol);
- Dr Ian Brown, Consultant Clinical Research Fellow at Oxford University and Oxford University Hospitals and Chairman of the Government’s Advisory Committee on Animal Feedstuffs;
- Professor Mark Fielder, Professor of Medical Microbiology at Kingston University;
- Professor Nigel Gibbens, former Chief Veterinary Officer and consultant with Itinerant Vets Ltd;
- Mr Daniel Parker, avian expert for UK government, technical advisor to the British Poultry Council and lecturer at Cambridge University Veterinary School;
- Professor Sharon Peacock, Professor of Clinical Microbiology at LSHTM
- Dr Shabbir Simjee, Technical Advisor in Microbiology & Antimicrobials, Elanco Animal Health;
- Mr Martin Smith, Lead Veterinary Surgeon, British Quality Pigs
Since 2014, the UK livestock farming industry has reduced use of antibiotics by 40% and is currently working on reaching a number of sector-specific targets for reducing, refining or replacing antibiotic use by 2020.