Physician researcher Jennie H. Kwon, DO, MS, and her colleagues have identified that intensive care unit sink drains may be a potential reservoir for antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They will soon be testing an environmental hygiene intervention to see if it helps reduce the concentration of bacteria in the sink and could potentially prevent the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria to patients.
To support this project, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recently awarded Dr. Kwon and her colleagues a five-year grant of more than $2.4 million.
Dr. Kwon, the project’s main principal investigator (PI), is an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University in St. Louis, where the study will be conducted. The additional PIs, Carey-Ann Burnham, PhD, and Gautam Dantas, PhD, are professors of pathology and immunology at Washington University.
To track microbes and monitor the effectiveness of the chosen cleaning method, the researchers will use both selective microbiologic culture and sequencing-based techniques, according to the project summary.
The project’s goal is to improve patient outcomes by evaluating and implementing a practical method of environmental cleaning, and its findings have the potential to help reduce transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in other settings inside and outside of the hospital.
Dr. Kwon, a former National Academy of Medicine fellow, also received a $450,000 grant from the CDC in 2016 to study antibiotic resistance.