Professors to share impacts of overusing antibiotics on WPSU’s 'Digging Deeper'

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A pair of Penn State professors will discuss their research study on reducing harmful overuse of antibiotics during the season premiere of President Eric J. Barron’s monthly WPSU show on Sept. 17.

Barron will welcome Andrew Read and Erina MacGeorge for WPSU Penn State’s “Digging Deeper,” which will air at 11:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 17, on WPSU-TV. Read is the Evan Pugh Professor of Biology and Entomology, and Eberly Professor of Biotechnology in the College of Agricultural Sciences and the Eberly College of Science, and MacGeorge is an associate professor in the College of the Liberal Arts’ Department of Communication Arts and Sciences.

“When we use antibiotic medicines, the strongest bacteria will survive even though we get well,” MacGeorge said. “These bacteria can adapt to become resistant superbugs, which are estimated to kill 50,000 people a year across the United States and up to 700,000 worldwide. In response, we need much better public cooperation with limiting antibiotic use, along with using vaccinations and good hygiene to prevent infections from occurring in the first place.”

The professors’ multi-disciplinary study, which also includes expertise from Dr. Michelle Zook at University Health Services, examines the interactions between doctors and patients at UHS and how those relationships affect the prescribing of antibiotics. Researchers are also currently analyzing data from a study focused on doctor-parent interactions about antibiotics and childhood ear infections.

“Antibiotics are one of humanity’s precious resources, but antibiotic resistance endangers the health gains they provide,” Read said. “This is one of the great challenges for 21st century medicine. There are a lot of life science challenges posed by drug resistance, but it’s going to boil down to behavior change. We hope to learn ways to reduce the number of people taking antibiotics by reducing patient demand and providing physicians with tools to avoid prescribing them.”

Visit the “Digging Deeper” website for more information and to watch archived episodes.

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Last Updated September 08, 2017