UK and European Union public and charitable funding from 2008 to 2013 for bacteriology and antibiotic research in the UK: an observational study

Lancet Infect Dis. 2014 Sep;14(9):857-68. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(14)70825-4. Epub 2014 Jul 24.


Background: Since the 1990s, the number of new antibacterial drugs has plummeted and the number of antibiotic-resistant infections has risen, which has decreased the effective treatment of many disorders, including sepsis. We aimed to assess whether funding for bacteriology and antibiotic research to UK researchers had increased in response to this global crisis.

Methods: We systematically searched websites and databases of agencies that fund research in the UK to identify publicly and charitably funded projects from financial years 2008 to 2013 within the specialties of bacteriology and antibiotic research. We created a database to identify the projects funded. Grants awarded in euros were converted to pounds sterling (€1=£0·86).

Findings: We identified 609 projects within the specialty of bacteriology, 196 (32·2%) of which were on antibiotics. Of £13 846·1 million of available research funding, £269·2 million (1·9%) was awarded to bacteriology projects and £95·0 million (0·7%) was awarded for research on antibiotics. Additionally, £181·4 million in European Union (EU) funding was awarded to antibiotic research consortia including researchers based within the UK, including two EU Innovative Medicines Initiative awards, totalling £85·2 million.

Interpretation: To increase awareness of who funds antibiotic research and to facilitate priority setting and funding decisions, funding organisations need to be aware of the breadth and depth of present funding as a baseline by which funding from 2014 onwards can be measured and so that informed decisions about the future level of funding can be made. To resolve the crisis of antibiotic resistance, present levels of funding are inadequate and should be increased substantially.

Funding: British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents*
  • Bacteriology*
  • Biomedical Research / economics*
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • European Union
  • Time Factors
  • United Kingdom


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents