September 17, 2014

Statement on Prize for Diagnostic Devices to Identify Antimicrobial Resistant Bacterial Infections

One of the most pressing public health problems today is the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections. To help slow the development of antibiotic-resistant strains, new diagnostics that rapidly identify drug-resistant bacterial infections are required to help ensure that the right antibiotics are prescribed for the appropriate infection.

Today, the President issued a new Executive Order on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, the White House announced a new National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, and the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology released a new report on Combating Antibiotic Resistance. One of the goals of that National Strategy is to advance the development and use of rapid and innovative diagnostic tests for identification and characterization of resistant bacteria. To achieve that important goal, the Department of Health and Human Services will be offering a major monetary prize to foster innovation by the private sector and to focus American ingenuity on this urgent public health challenge.

A prize of up to $20 million will be awarded to the first group(s) to develop a rapid, point-of-care diagnostic test to be used by health care providers to identify highly resistant bacterial infections. Having a diagnostic tool of this nature will equip health care providers with a critically-needed tool to guide their usage of antibiotics and promote responsible use of antibiotics.

In the near future, HHS agencies will host a public meeting that will engage stakeholders to ensure that this competition focuses on the type of diagnostic tool that is most needed by the medical and public health communities for recognizing and treating drug-resistant bacterial infections.

To learn more about this growing problem of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections and how NIH is addressing it, please see the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases webpage on antimicrobial resistance.

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Institutes of Health