Antimicrobial resistance is not a future threat looming on the horizon. It is here, right now, and the consequences are devastating.
— Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization
Without action by 2015, the true cost of antimicrobial resistance will be more than 300 million premature deaths and $100 trillion in terms of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
— Jim O'Neill, The Review on Antimicrobial Resistance

Antibiotic resistance and the resulting diminishing supply of effective antibiotics are two of the biggest threats to global health today. While pharmaceutical companies have shifted away from developing new antibiotics, existing antibiotics are losing efficacy due to widespread antibiotic resistance. Formulated at Yale University in 2012 by Jo Handelsman, the Small World Initiative™ (SWI) is addressing this worldwide health threat through innovative and inspiring science curriculum. SWI centers around an introductory biology course in which students perform hands-on field and laboratory research on soil samples in the hunt for new antibiotics. This is particularly relevant as over two thirds of antibiotics come from soil bacteria or fungi. 

Over the past four years, SWI has grown rapidly to include 185 participating schools across 35 US states, Puerto Rico, and 12 countries. Read our latest press release from SWI President Erika Kurt on how students from around the world are joining forces to tackle the antibiotic crisis through SWI's novel crowdsourcing approach. If you are interested in sponsoring our important work, please Contact Us.

Join Us

If you are interested in bringing the Small World Initiative to your institution, please check out our resources for prospective instructors and consider submitting an application (available here under "Apply to Teach SWI"). The 4th edition of the Small World Initiative's course materials (Small World Initiative: A Research Guide to Microbial and Chemical Diversity and Small World Initiative: Research Protocols) may be ordered from XanEdu here. Should you have any other questions, please Contact Us.

If you are attending ASM Microbe 2017, you are invited to stop by our 4th Annual Symposium on June 1st. This is an excellent opportunity to meet with faculty and students participating in the program and to hear from SWI's Founder, Dr. Jo Handelsman. For more information, please click here.



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