Eton College Medical Society Lecture

Friday 2nd December 2016

On the evening of Wednesday 30 November, 11 girls from across U5, L6 and U6 took the opportunity to attend a fascinating lecture at Eton College. Sir Anthony Milnes Coates BSc, FRCP, MD, FRCPath, Professor of Medical Microbiology at the Institute of Infection and Immunity, St George’s, University of London, addressed the question, ‘Will antimicrobial resistance lead to the end of modern medicine?’

In a packed Jafar Gallery, our girls – all of whom are prospective medics – were treated to a lecture in which two possible versions of the future were outlined: one extremely worrying and one which offers a more hopeful perspective. Reference was made to the O’Neil Review of 2016 in which it is suggested that by about 2050, if we don’t do anything to address increasing resistance to antibiotics, we are likely to see the end of the antibiotic era (which began with Fleming’s discovery of penicillin in 1928). In such a scenario, it is predicted that by 2050, 10 million deaths per year will occur as result of antibiotic resistance.

There is hope, however, not least in the shape of the agreement made by the UN General Assembly in September 2016, when 193 world leaders committed to toughening the regulation of antimicrobials and encouraging the development of new antibiotics and treatments. This, coupled with ground-breaking work on antibiotic resistance breakers (ARBs), could see us finding a way to withstand the storm of resistance which is rapidly spreading across the world.

To hear of the possibilities within medicine and scientific research was truly inspirational: what more motivation might the Queen Anne’s aspiring medics need to strive to realise their ambitions?

Thank you to Eton College for inviting us to attend this event and to Professor Coates for opening our minds to realities and possibilities which will inevitably affect us all and which, excitingly, we could have the power to influence.