The discovery of penicillin in 1928 by Sir Alexander Fleming started the antibiotic revolution, which tremendously impacted human life by revolutionizing the treatment of infectious diseases worldwide. Before this revolution, the average life expectancy at birth was 46 years, even in the industrialized world. In 2016 – less than 50 years later – it was 72 years. This spectacular increase cannot be attributed to antibiotics alone, but they played a large part in it. However, the battle against bacteria is far from over: antibiotic-resistant bacteria are on the rise and threaten modern medicine by eroding the efficacy of our antibiotic arsenal. According to the World Health Organization, the rise of multidrug-resistant bacteria putting at risk the ability to treat common infections in the community and hospitals. Without urgent, coordinated action, the world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which common infections and minor injuries, which have been treatable for decades, can once again kill. (…) A post-antibiotic era, means, in effect, an end to modern medicines as we know it”. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria could cause more deaths than cancer by 2050. It is therefore urgent to find novel therapies and strategies against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a challenge that requires a deep understanding of bacterial biology. In his presentation, Professor Collins will briefly explain how antibiotics were first identified and used in medicine. He will then explain how bacteria are evolving resistance mechanisms against antibiotics. Finally, he will present the strategy used in lab to improve our understanding of how bacteria sense and respond to antibiotic exposure. Professor Jean-François Collet is the Deputy Director of the de Duve Institute, a multidisciplinary biomedical research institute hosting several laboratories of the faculty of medicine of the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL). After his studies at UCL he spent several years as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Michigan before he returned to UCL to hold several positions in teaching and research and where he is now a full time professor. Professor Collet is a Member of the Royal Academy of Belgium and a frequently invited speaker at the Gordon Conference, an international forum covering topics on frontier research in the biological, chemical, and physical sciences, and their related technologies. Amongst other rewards in 2014 he received the Henri Fauconnier Award from the Académie Royale de Médecine de Belgique.
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