My name is Wesley Loftie-Eaton. I have lived and worked as a postdoc in the USA for four years now but have realised that Southern Africa is where my heart is. It is where I was born, raised and educated (specifically South Africa and Namibia) and it is where I want to go back to and carry on doing science! But I am going back #MyOwnWay.
My research for the past few years have focussed on the molecular mechanisms by which bacteria and plasmids adapt to each other. Besides plasmids being absolutely fascinating, antibiotic resistance genes are often located on plasmids, making them central to the spread of antibiotic resistance between bacteria. And, as you may have heard, antibiotic resistance is currently one of the biggest threats to human (and animal) health (see WHO’s global report on antimicrobial resistance 2014). Unless we start managing this problem effectively and adopt good antimicrobial stewardship practices we will return to a world where we are unable to treat even the most common bacterial infections. For many reasons that I’ll discuss in a later blog, Africa and Asia will be worst affected.
So with a serious concern about the spread and evolution of antibiotic resistance and a personal need to identify where in Southern Africa science is happening I’ve decided to tackle both these issues #MyOwnWay.
I’ve set aside 6 months to cycle from Nairobi in Kenya down to Cape Town, South Africa. I’ll pass through Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia on a journey that will span more than 7,500 km. Along the way I’ll stop at different universities and research organisations as an ambassador for Antibiotic Action. In this role I will talk about the urgent need for good antimicrobial stewardship practices and research to better understand the evolution and spread of antibiotic resistance and the development of new antibiotics or alternative drugs. Furthermore, to stimulate research on this issue the students at the institutions that I visit will have an opportunity to write a small proposal and the best proposal will be crowd-funded by supporters of #Cycling4AntibioticAction and #ScienceInAfrica.
If we can raise at least US$1 per kilometre that I cycle that’ll be enough to support a student-led project on the topic of antibiotic resistance! Not only will we make a positive contribution towards antimicrobial stewardship and research in the field, but also towards #ScienceInAfrica in general. If you wish to support this venture or would appreciate more information please follow this link.
In return for your interest and support I will blog about the people, research and institutions that I visit along the way. Its not just me that is curious about this. I’ve had a multitude of people asking me about the state of science in Africa. So I am going to go find out for you and me in #MyOwnWay.
If you’d like to follow my journey please read and subscribe to my blog.