Assessing antibiotic resistance – an interview with Patrick Harris

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We recently spoke with Patrick Harris, infectious disease physician, medical microbiologist and one of the co-ordinators of the international and multicentre MERINO trial. Here, Patrick tells us a little more about this project, in addition to speaking on antibiotic resistance and his interest in the application of whole genome sequencing in clinical microbiology. Read the full interview below.

First, Could you please introduce yourself and provide a brief summary of your career to date?

I am originally from the UK, but have been working Australia since 2006. So, I have almost converted from Marmite to Vegemite…

My career in medicine has been somewhat circuitous and meandering. After leaving school in 1992, I spent some time teaching English in a remote region of Nepal. I felt frequently helpless when witnessing how simple medical problems can be so devastating in a part of the world where even basic healthcare is scarce. With no roads, the nearest hospital was several days’ walk away across deep ravines and high peaks. The seeds of studying medicine were planted in my mind around then, but I did not pursue it at that time.

“I felt frequently helpless when witnessing how simple medical problems can be so devastating in a part of the world where even basic healthcare is scarce.”

In my first degree I studied Psychology and Anthropology at Durham University (UK), where I developed an interest in medical anthropology (fuelled by an obsessive love of travel to odd places). As a result I was considering a future career in international development or global public health. However, I realised that having a medical degree might open more opportunities. So I made the somewhat strange choice of studying medicine to become a better anthropologist!

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