Surfer Resistance Fund

Impact of Antibiotic Resistance Vectors in Coastal Waters on the Human Microbiome in Surfers in Southern California: A Prospective Study (Surfer Resistance Fund)

The role of the environment in the proliferation of antibiotic resistance (AR) remains to be fully elucidated. Exposure to sources of antibiotic resistant bacteria (ARB) and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) has been associated with colonization and infection in human populations; however, questions remain about the directionality of transfer and the complex fate of ARGs in the environment.  There is currently a dire need for prospective studies on the link between ARB and ARG exposure and the human microbiome. What we would like to do now is continue monitoring the water, and concurrently take human nasal swabs with methods we have already developed and piloted (for a different project) for investigating the human microbiome.  We plan to recruit a surfing group and non-surfing control and take samples both before and throughout the wet season beginning this November 2018.  This experimental design is a promising way to document infection due to an environmental exposure of an antibiotic resistant organism, which is a critical missing link in the literature.

Our ultimate goal is a controlled, prospective study of the impacts of recreational exposure to ARGs and antibiotic resistant pathogens on surfers at beaches in Southern California.  We will monitor surfers and non-surfers at baseline in the fall and during a wet season when water quality is most degraded.  We will sample at regular time points and adaptively in response to storm events and the appearance of AR pathogens.  Water samples as well as nasal swabs will be monitored for ARGs and pathogens to document temporal relationships between exposure and colonization.  Metagenomic analysis will elucidate links between genes found in the water and in the human microbiome, and multi-level geospatial statistical analysis will be conducted to better characterize the impacts of environmental exposures.

We’ve reached out to Surfrider, and they are more than happy to collaborate with us to get the word out to potential participants.  We have also received seed funding of $5,000 from the Sea Grant Program at USC. We have already begun the human subjects review process at UCLA (which we expect will go well as the sample collection process was already approved for the other project) and we can staff the booth at the US Open with interns.  However, we are in need of lab supply money for processing these samples.

If you are interested in supporting this project, please contact us! Any level of support for this work would be greatly appreciated. The UCLA Spark office has suggested we attempt to find donors who will provide some matching funds that can be used for the wider crowdsourcing activity. If you have any contacts in the surfing community that might be especially interested in surfer health, or if you are able to help as we prepare for our crowdfunding effort, please let us know. I would also be happy to come to your office to talk more about the project.

If you are interested in participating in the study, please email .