The Suitability of Wastewater-based Epidemiology for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance


This PhD project focuses on assessing the suitability of the wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) approach for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) surveillance with an emphasis on characterising and reducing uncertainties. Our group at The University of Queensland has pioneered wastewater-based epidemiology, particularly regarding understanding and reducing uncertainties. Our collaborators at the University of Exeter are world leaders in environmental AMR and they lead a transnational network on Environmental AMR surveillance. This interdisciplinary project combines molecular microbiology, environmental chemistry, environmental risk assessment, epidemiology, and pollution science and is likely to have a significant impact on our understanding of AMR in human populations.

This project aims to systematically evaluate wastewater surveillance for AMR by working through the WBE biomarker suitability workflows, which includes assessing sampling methodology, in-sewer, and in-sample stability. We will then model the findings for specific wastewater catchments to reveal associations between AMR endpoints, demographics, pharmaceutical residue, and pharmaceutical usage data, as well as associated risks of AMR selection.

Project members

Pooja Lakhey

PhD Candidate (UQ-Exeter)

Dr Jake O’Brien

Senior Research Fellow

Prof Kevin Thomas

QAEHS Director
and Theme Leader, Environmental Health Toxicology