Self-Defense in Microbiology: The Interplay Between Vaccines and Antimicrobial Resistance

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As with all organisms, humans and microbes must adapt to changing environments to survive. Microbes achieve alarmingly high rates of evolution due to their strength in numbers, leading to a phenomenon known as antimicrobial resistance. Vaccines represent a form of “artificial evolution” that allows humans to compete with these microbes. Vaccines possess the ability to offer a more long-term solution to combatting infectious diseases via herd immunity and eradication (e.g. global eradication of smallpox). This thesis will investigate the relationship between vaccines and antimicrobial resistance through an analysis and synthesis of scientific articles, policy reports, news reports, academic works, and in-person interviews. Through a case study of my own research and development of a vaccine against a virulence factor of Pseudomonas aeruginosa (a bacterium recently declared a critical priority pathogen by the World Health Organization due to antibiotic resistance), this thesis will highlight the feasibility and efficacy of developing a vaccine against an antibiotic-resistant pathogen. By doing so, the case study will lead into an analysis of the existing sociological, political, and economic barriers that are preventing the wide-scale research and development of vaccines against antimicrobial resistant pathogens. The discussion will conclude with propositions for research-, policy-, and education-based reforms that will allow vaccines to more effectively address antimicrobial resistance. This thesis intends to shift the global conversations regarding antimicrobial resistance to incorporate the research and development of vaccines as a crucial component to targeting resistance.


Type of resource text
Date created May 30, 2019


Author Michelle S. Bach
Primary advisor Dr. Sandra S. Lee
Advisor Dr. Kyoko Sato
Advisor Dr. John Willinsky
Advisor Joo Ae Chu
Advisor Emily Van Poetsch
Advisor Rose Davis
Advisor Ipshita Sengupta
Degree granting institution The Program in Science, Technology, and Society


Subject Infectious Diseases
Subject Vaccines
Subject Antimicrobial Resistance
Subject Antibiotic Resistance
Subject Microbiology & Immunology
Subject Biomedical Ethics
Subject Sociology of Medicine
Subject The Program in Science Technology and Society
Genre Thesis

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Related Publication Sweere JS, Van Belleghem JD, Ishak H, Bach MS, Popescu M, Sunkari V, Kaber G, Manasherob R, Suh GA, Cao X, De Vries CR, Lam DN, Marshall PL, Birukova M, Katznelson E, Lazzareschi DV, Balaji S, Keswani SG, Hawn TR, Secor PR, and Bollyky PL. Bacteriophage trigger antiviral immunity and prevent clearance of bacterial infection. Science (2019) (DOI: 10.1126/science.aat9691)
Related Publication Burgener EB, Sweere JS, Bach MS, Secor PR, Haddock N, Jennings LK, Marvig RL, Johansen HK, Rossi E, Cao X, Tian L, Nedelec L, Molin S, Bollyky PL*, and Milla CE*. Filamentous bacteriophages are associated with chronic Pseudomonas lung infections and antibiotic resistance in cystic fibrosis. Science Translational Medicine (2019) (DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aau9748)
Related Publication Bach MS. Smallpox Vaccination: STS Model for Global Immunization Campaigns. Intersect: The Stanford Journal of Science, Technology, and Society (2019)
Related Publication Bach MS. Social Implications of the Yosemite Hantavirus Outbreak. Stanford Journal of Public Health (2017)
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Preferred Citation

Bach, Michelle S. (2019). Self-Defense in Microbiology: The Interplay Between Vaccines and Antimicrobial Resistance. Unpublished Honors Thesis. Stanford University, Stanford CA.


Stanford University, Program in Science, Technology and Society, Honors Theses

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