Antimicrobial resistance: The end of modern medicine? (Discourse)

7.20pm to 8.45pm, Friday 7 October

The Theatre

This event has already taken place

  • MRSA attacking a human cell

    Bacteria can evolve to become immune to medication, like this Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA).

    Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases via Wikipedia


Standard £18


Concession £15


Discounts for Members

Event description

Tackling antimicrobial resistance is the most complex thing since climate change and is a key priority for Dame Sally Davies in her role as Chief Medical Officer. Having secured support nationally from the Prime Minister and UK Government for the need to action, she is working tirelessly internationally to increase global awareness and secure commitments to action. 

In this Discourse, Dame Sally will explore why antimicrobial resistance has developed to such an extent that it is now a threat to modern medicine. She will look at how it is spreading across the globe, why we need to urgently change our attitude towards antimicrobials, in particular antibiotics, so that we treat them as a common good – not only in health but also in agriculture, farming, aquaculture and the environment. 

Antimicrobials are a wonder drug, but only when used effectively. If we do not learn how to look after them, we could see a return to ‘pre-antibiotic era’ where 40% mortality is due to infections – something that is difficult to believe now.

About the speaker

Dame Sally Davies is the Chief Medical Officer of the UK, acting as the UK government’s principal medical adviser and the professional head of all directors of public health in local government.

Timing note

Please be aware that this Discourse starts at 7.30pm, but all attendees must be seated in the theatre by 7.20pm. This is half an hour earlier than previous Discourses.

More about Discourses

Discourses are one of the Ri’s oldest and most prestigious series of talks. Since 1825, audiences in the theatre have witnessed countless mind-expanding moments, including the first public liquefaction of air by James Dewar, the announcement of the electron by J.J. Thomson and over 100 lectures by Michael Faraday. In more recent times, we have had Nobel laureates, Fields medal winners, scientists, authors and artists – all from the cutting-edge of their field. Discourses are an opportunity for the best and brightest to share their work with the world.

Steeped in nearly two centuries of tradition, a Discourse is more than just a lecture. To keep the focus on the topic, presenters begin sharply at 7:30pm without introduction and we lock the speaker into a room ten minutes ahead of the start (legend has it that a speaker once tried to escape!) We also ask guests to dress smartly to add to the sense of occasion.

Discourses are free for members - consider joining today.

Find out more about the history of the Friday Evening Discourses on our blog.


This event will be filmed and on the Ri Channel within a few months. Subscribe for free to hear when new videos are released.

Dress code

The dress code for this event is smart.

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