Antimicrobial drugs (antimicrobials) are important for preventing, controlling, and treating diseases that harmful microorganisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites) cause in humans, food animals, and plants. These types of drugs include antibiotics, which are types of antimicrobials that specifically kills or inhibits bacteria.

The discovery of antimicrobials in the 20th century was a major medical advancement. However, the growing resistance of microorganisms to these drugs (antimicrobial resistance; AMR) may make the current supply of antimicrobials no longer useful. Additional research is now necessary to inform proper antibiotic administration to reduce and prevent any unintended negative impacts of antibiotic use.

Through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI and other competitive and capacity programs, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) funds many types of basic and applied AMR research. From 2012-2015, the AFRI Food Safety Challenge Area program priority “Effective Strategies for Mitigating AMR” awarded $11,049,195 in research, education, and/or extension projects. Currently, “Understanding Antimicrobial Resistance” is an AFRI Foundational Program that will fund AMR research in both the private and public sector. In addition to these NIFA-funded programs, the USDA contributes to a number of other AMR activities related to surveillance, research, development, extension, education, and outreach.

To learn more about antimicrobial resistance, view the full infographic.