Partnership against Biofilm-associated Expression, Acquisition and Transmission of AMR (BEAT-AMR)




Reducing the risk of infection associated with medical devices and surfaces in the healthcare setting has huge public health significance.

Completed project

This risk is compounded by the emergence and persistence of multi-antibiotic resistant bacteria which is considered as one of the greatest global threats to human health. Such resistance threatens the treatment of even simple infections. However, very little is known about how bacteria develop resistance on medical surfaces within which sometimes antimicrobials have been incorporated. The key mysteries are how bacteria evolve and respond dynamically to antimicrobials on such surfaces.

We developed a publicly available, experimental workflow that allows to reproducibly grow biofilms and study their underlying resistance mechanisms. Our findings show that the combination of antimicrobials used within surfaces and antibiotics supplied systemically can have an important impact on selecting for resistance. Further, we identified new mechanisms that bacteria use to dynamically adapt to antibiotics when these bacteria grow on surfaces. One such mechanism is associated to the molecular machine that allows bacteria to swim (i.e. the flagellum). These novel antibiotic resistance mechanisms associated to surface growth and the combination effects of antimicrobial surfaces together with systemically applied antibiotics should be taken into consideration when evaluating new antimicrobial surfaces used in the healthcare setting and in medical devices.

Project partners

  • Frank Schreiber, BAM-Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing, Germany (Coordinator)
  • Qun Zulian Ren, Empa. Materials Science  and Technology, Switzerland
  • Henny C van der Mei, University Medical Center  Groningen, Netherlands
  • Saul Faust, University Hospital Southampton, United Kingdom
  • Matthias Buhmann, Empa. Materials Science  and Technology, Switzerland
  • Henk J.  Busscher, University Medical Center  Groningen, Netherlands
  • Jeremy Webb, University of Southampton, United Kingdom

Project resources

Presentation of the project by coordinator Frank Schreiber: Presentation video BEAT-AMR, February 2022

BEAT-AMR project website