Bringing together scientists, industry, agriculture, policy makers, regulators, stakeholders and other interested parties in the same physical location for intensive discussions is a key component of developing a systems approach to address and mitigate antimicrobial resistance. The chosen platform and venue are key to the success of such ventures and it is with this idea in mind that we are proposing that in the 4th ASM Conference on Antimicrobial Resistance in Zoonotic Bacteria and Foodborne Pathogens, to continue and expand the excellent existing scientific agenda to include emphases on novel approaches to molecular typing, whole genome sequencing and its role in understanding the evolution and dissemination of AMR bacteria, host adaptation and specificity, metagenome-based studies of resistance, isolate-based versus sample-based inference, risk assessment, and computational biology and mathematical modeling. Our major objectiveis to include an additional 1.5 days on systems approaches, ways to develop, implement, and measure success in mitigation strategies, and stakeholder-based policy development (from very local, to national and global) as it relates to antimicrobial uses and AMR bacteria, particularly of zoonotic and foodborne bacteria.Much of the interest in, and funding of, scientific research in this area is driven by both implicit and explicit policy concerns; yet, little time is given to rigorous discussion of key factors driving science policy in this area including moral, social, and economic conditions. We will conduct a 3.5 day meeting to cover all the sessions; with the last day and a half devoted to the issues for which we seek USDA sponsorship. We will group several of the sections to permit 1.5-day attendance by key policy makers that will include a science 'overview' keynote address as well as relevant discussions of core science and policy topics outlined above. This is unique for many ASM conferences, and the location proposed (Washington, DC) is purposeful in allowing this to occur without affecting organizational travel budgets in the public and private sectors.
We will hold in the spring of 2015 (May 8-11, 2015; at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. - see facilities description) the fourth in a series of ASM conferences on the subject of antimicrobial resistance in zoonotic bacteria and foodborne pathogens among animal and human hosts and the environment. This conference will build on the successes of the first three conferences held in Denmark (Copenhagen), Canada (Toronto), and France (Aix-en-Provence) in 2008, 2010, and 2012, respectively. Many of the previous conference agendas and abstracts are available online at http://conferences.asm.org/index.php/2012-02-09-21-04-52/2012-02-09-21-… . Note that the ASM encourages these smaller conferences held on carefully defined subject matter as part of its mandate. We will be shifting to a triennial (from biennial) schedule beginning in 2015 to maintain momentum and a robust agenda.The conference will be held in the United States for the first time, geographically situated to maximize its exposure and to generate interest among not only the science community, but also policy makers and the media in the nation's capital. The proposal to hold the meeting in the Washington, DC area is a direct acknowledgement of the very recent 2012 and 2013 actions taken by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration - Center for Veterinary Medicine against the use of antibiotics of human medical importance as growth promoters (Guidance for Industry 209, 213 and the Veterinary Feed Directive), to ban most extra-label uses of cephalosporins (Final Order - 2012), and of ongoing and pending legislation and lawsuits regarding the public health risks due to zoonotic bacterial resistance posed by use of medically important antibiotics in agriculture. Because of recent federal budgetary actions (and in actions), there remain very real impacts on the ability of key personnel in federal agencies to travel to attend such conferences as we are proposing (e.g., the 'Sequester'). By hosting the conference in the United States and in the vicinity of major federal government departments such as the US Food and Drug Administration - Center for Veterinary Medicine (Rockville, MD and Laurel, MD) and other Health and Human Services agencies such as NIH, the US Department of Agriculture (Agricultural Research Service, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and Food Safety Inspection Service), and the Environmental Protection Agency, we expect to more reliably attract greater representation from non-academic policy and regulatory participants on this subject of crucial importance to public health, animal health and food production, and the environment.We expect to build on the numbers of earlier meetings, especially using Toronto as a more proximate comparison and also greatly anticipate that our student and post-doc numbers will once again reach the 100 mark. Our student travel awards are extremely popular and we actively encourage minority and women participants. The location along the Northeastern seaboard of the U.S. will place it in close proximity to a large number of high quality universities, including minority serving institutions in the Washington, DC area. We have been cognizant of the threats posed to attendance by hosting the meeting during the school year, including Friday through Monday morning as part of the scheduled agenda and avoiding mid-term and final exam periods in the university calendar for most of the U.S. As mentioned, we fully expect a much greater attendance by individuals engaged in federal agencies involved with antimicrobial policy.The three half-day themes that are attributed to USDA support include:1) Systems approaches to mitigation strategies against AMR. This will include solicitations for contributed papers and keynotes speakers on both 'hard systems' (e.g., mathematical models) and 'soft systems' (social sciences) approaches to complex scientific and societal problems (morning session of Sunday May 10);2) Optimal design, conduct, and analysis of systems-based scientific studies assessing the mitigation strategy outcomes including: microbiological endpoints - phenotype, genotype, prevalence versus quantity), timelines for study (i.e., short versus long term), how best to relate use and resistance outcomes, and metagenome-based studies (i.e., gene copies versus sequencing) (afternoon session of Sunday May 10);3) Engaging a broad array of stakeholder values, supported by the best science, in considering optimal policy for implementation to mitigate antimicrobial resistance (closing session of Monday May 11).Practical considerations for organization and conduct of the conference Participation of new/early stage investigators and trainees: We will provide both financial assistance and unique scientific venues to encourage participation of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Graduate students and first-year post-doctoral fellows will be offered a significantly reduced registration fee. In addition, we plan to provide travel awards to as many graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and new investigators as sources permit (grants, university contributions, industry sponsors, registration fees, etc.). To enhance the experience of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows we are organizing "Meet the Speaker Lunches"; these have been highly appreciated at past ASM Conferences. The format of these lunches is to have the invited speakers for that day have lunch with five or six students. It is our anticipation that several young investigators will be chosen for the oral 15 minute abstract presentations. Furthermore, at the end of the meeting, awards will be provided to peer-reviewed graduate students for the quality of posters presented, as selected by the organizing committee. This venue will be a tremendous opportunity for these young investigators to meet the rest of the scientific community.Participation of women and under-represented minorities: We will purposely invite highly qualified speakers to represent women and under-represented minority groups. There is no shortage of highly qualified individuals from around the world and in the U.S. and our decision as to choice of keynote speakers will broadly reflect diversity. The organizing committee and scientific committees will likewise be representative of the broader makeup of the community. ASM has an excellent track record of organizing and sponsoring and facilitating events that help to encourage individuals in the discipline from a diverse set of backgrounds. Although presenters from selected abstracts have not yet been selected, we are committed to diversity as the full program is finalized.ADA Access at the Conference Site: The meeting venue is fully handicap accessible and in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant. Despite its historical character, the hotel has seen multiples renovations to bring it into compliance with expectations of an inclusive society. In addition, we will work directly with self-identified disabled attendees (through registration solicitations) to assist them with their disability.