Employing institution: University of Abomey-Calavi, Benin

Host institution: University of Leicester, UK

Project title: Strengthening of skills in phage biocontrol research and genomics for effective antimicrobial resistance control in Africa.

Dr Agbankpe obtained his PhD in Microbiology at the University of Abomey- Calavi in Benin. Since 2017, he has worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Research Unit in Applied Microbiology and Pharmacology of Natural Substances at the University of Abomey-Calavi. His research work focuses on foodborne infections, zoonoses, antimicrobial resistance and biocontrol of multidrug resistant pathogens using medicinal plants, probiotics and bacteriophages.

AREF Fellowship:

Co-infections are a dangerous and frequent complication in patients hospitalised with COVID-19. Indeed, in the absence of a biological diagnosis of the etiology of co-infected patients, physicians administer more antimicrobials. This misuse of antimicrobials coupled with the self-medication of developing countries populations to prevent COVID-19 inevitably contributes to increase of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in humans and the environment.

But what impact does the COVID-19 pandemic have on severity of AMR in Benin and what alternative to combat antimicrobial resistance effectively and sustainably?

To answer these questions, Dr Agbankpe aims to evaluate the flow of antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) and dissemination of multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria according to the One Heath approach in the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic in Benin, and to develop effective phage cocktails against MDR bacteria of-interest in public health. their is hoped that the results of this fellowship, will inform national decisions on effective and sustainable policies in the fight against AMR in animal and human health in Benin.

During his fellowship at the Department of Genetics and Genome Biology at the University of Leicester, Dr Agbankpe will be working in the Leicester Phage Lab led by Prof. Martha Clokie. He will acquire practical skills in phage isolation and characterisation, sequencing of pathogenic bacteria and phages, and bioinformatics. His home institution will provide space upon his return to establish a research unit on AMR and phage biocontrol.

“Phage biocontrol and/or phage therapy could be the effective and sustainable alternative in the fight against antimicrobial resistance in Africa.”