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UM global leader in antibiotics research

May 29, 2020 — 

An analysis of the 100 most-cited papers in the field of antibiotics and antimicrobials found that the University of Manitoba has more contributions than any other educational institution in the world.

The paper, published in the journal Antibiotics, found that UM professors were linked to five of the 100 most-cited papers that span the past 60 years. This is more contributions than larger institutions like Harvard University, Stanford University, University of Toronto and The University of British Columbia.

The analysis looked at keywords related to the field of antibiotics to compile the most-cited papers.

“I think it really shows the great work that the University of Manitoba infectious diseases and microbiology has done over time,” said Dr. Anand Kumar, professor of internal medicine in critical care and infectious diseases, Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences. “I think there are a lot of places that demonstrate excellence for a decade or so, but really what this is indicating is that there has been a high level of excellence at the University of Manitoba for a very long time.”

Dr. Jude Uzonna, associate dean (research), Max Rady College of Medicine, said he was pleasantly surprised to discover that the University of Manitoba had the most contributions.

“Thinking about it, ‘I should not be surprised because we are doing good science here,” Uzonna said. “We’re doing great work so this reflects the overall excellence in the kind of research being conducted at the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences and the University of Manitoba.’”

Kumar’s 2006 paper demonstrating that the faster a patient with septic shock is treated with antibiotics, the better the survival, was ranked number seven on the top 100 list and remains highly quoted. The paper, titled Duration of hypotension before initiation of effective antimicrobial therapy is the critical determinant of survival in human septic shock, has been cited more than 5,000 times according to Google Scholar.

“It is one of the most widely quoted papers citing how critically important it is to rapidly treat sepsis,” said Dr. Kelly MacDonald, professor and head of the section of infectious diseases, department of internal medicine and a researcher in medical microbiology/infectious diseases, Max Rady College of Medicine. “It is a very important paper.”

The 33rd most-cited paper was a 2001 Annals of Internal Medicine publication authored by multiple-renowned UM faculty, including dean emeritus of medicine Dr. Nick Anthonisen, demonstrated that when patients with exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were given antibiotics, along with standard treatment, they did significantly better than without antibiotics. The paper, titled Antibiotic therapy in exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, was cited more than 3,000 times according to Google Scholar.

“That paper changed clinical management. It was quoted widely for many years,” MacDonald said. “That was a seminal paper.”

Dr. Eric Bow, professor and past chair of the section of oncology and member of the section of infectious diseases in internal medicine, co-authored two papers in the top 100. As a dual research specialist in treating infections in leukemia, he was involved in Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) guidelines for the use of antimicrobial agents in neutropenic patients with cancer. The 2008 guidelines are ranked 49th (more than 1,700 citations on Google Scholar) and the 2000 guidelines are ranked 58th (more than 2,700 citations on Google Scholar) on the list.

“These guidelines from Dr. Bow and the IDSA committee have been tremendously impactful,” Kumar said.

Former University of Manitoba professor Dr. Marc Gurwith’s 1981 seminal paper was the first to describe clostridium difficile colitis, a now widely-recognized serious cause of hospital-acquired diarrhea. The paper, titled Antibiotic-associated pseudomembranous colitis due to toxin-producing clostridia, is ranked 73rd and was cited more than 1,600 times according to Google Scholar.

“Dr. Gurwith’s paper described a new disease for the first time,” Kumar said. “So that’s pretty cool.”

Bow attributed the success of these papers and their authors to the outstanding leadership the department has had over the decades.

“I think Dr. Allan Ronald is the one who had the insight and vision to put the University of Manitoba on the global map in the area of infectious diseases,” Bow said.

MacDonald said that while the department of microbiology and infectious diseases is well known for its international health work in the field of STDs and HIV, this clinical and translational research shows that infectious disease clinical researchers also have been making an impact internationally in other areas as well.

“I think it’s important that people understand the breadth of expertise that has come and is still coming out of this centre,” MacDonald said. “We have some of the best researchers in the world right here at home in Manitoba.”

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