With over 2 million infections per year in the United States alone, antimicrobial resistance (AMR) among bacterial pathogens has become a serious threat to global health. In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a report to guide the direction of antimicrobial research and drug development that was designed to have a significant impact on public health; the criteria used to select pathogens included transmissibility and preventability, recent trends and prevalence of resistance, healthcare burden, and global mortality. A global panel of experts in infectious disease, antimicrobial resistance, drug development, and public health developed three tiers for the prioritization of pathogens: critical, high, and medium.
To thwart the AMR threat via drug discovery and diagnostics research, accurate characterization of AMR gene clusters, mobile elements, insertions, and deletions in bacterial genomes is crucial. To that end, we developed the ATCC Global Priority Superbugs Collection, which comprises 57 fully authenticated, characterized, and sequenced strains representing critical level pathogens. Here, we discuss the phenotypic and genotypic characterization of these strains through antimicrobial susceptibility profiling and a standardized sequencing, assembly, and annotation pipeline.