“Harvard symposium examines bioinformatics’ great potential in ensuring antibiotics’ effectiveness”

Experts who are adept at handling massive scientific data sets are examining ways that the revolution sweeping their field can address one of medicine’s biggest challenges: the spread of drug-resistant microbes.

Maha Farhat, assistant professor of biomedical informatics and one of the organizers of a symposium on the topic, said antibiotic resistance has reached “epidemic proportions” but, with more data available than ever, there’s hope that medical science will discover ways to combat it. What’s needed, however, are better tools to analyze that data, she said.

“It really threatens one of the most core therapies that define modern medicine,” Farhat said. “We do think the problem of antibiotic resistance is at such scale that we should come at it from many different angles.”

The symposium, “Data-Powered Strategies to Counteract Antibiotic Resistance,” held Wednesday at Harvard Medical School’s New Research Building on the Longwood campus, featured speakers who focused on three major areas: detecting and diagnosing drug-resistant microbes, applying big data to the problem, and developing new drugs to fight resistance.

Source: The Harvard Gazette


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