The Do Something About Antibiotics Challenge

2017 Do Something Campaign
The Small World Initiative is teaming up with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to encourage you to do something about the antibiotic crisis in recognition of the CDC’s Annual Antibiotic Awareness Week (November 13th-19th)This coincides with global activities from the World Health Organization, European Union, Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), and similar organizations in Canada and Australia.

As Small World Initiative students know, antibiotic resistance – when bacteria stop responding to the drugs designed to kill them – is projected to become the most important medical challenge of the 21st century (WHO). Just last year, the United Nations called antibiotic resistance “the greatest and most urgent global risk.” Without action, we risk turning back the clock to a world where simple infections could kill otherwise healthy individuals just as they did prior to the discovery of antibiotics. In the US alone, superbugs (pathogens resistant to existing antibiotics) lead to more than 2 million illnesses, 23,000 deaths, and $35 billion in economic losses (CDC), and last year, the CDC announced that more than 800,000 Americans may soon be at risk of acquiring untreatable gonorrhea each year. If we continue on our current path and no significant action is taken by 2050, superbugs will kill 300 million people – more than cancer and diabetes combined (Review on Antimicrobial Resistance). Yet, pharmaceutical companies have shifted away from developing new antibiotics in favor of more lucrative ventures, and improper use of existing antibiotics exacerbates the problem.

We are running out of time on confronting one of the most pressing global challenges of our time. Yet, we possess the ingenuity to solve this problem, and we already understand the key causes and many of the possible solutions. It is not too late if we respond effectively with global collaboration. You have a very important role to play in stemming antibiotic resistance, and we are calling on you to do something.

By far, the single most important action to slow the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant infections is to improve the mass-scale misuse and overuse of antibiotics in humans and agriculture. Up to half of all antibiotics use in humans is either unnecessary or inappropriate. Each year in the US alone, doctors write at least 80 million unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions, which makes improving antibiotic prescribing a national priority (CDC). On top of that, animals consume more than twice as many medically important antibiotics as humans, and nearly all of this consumption is for growth promotion or prophylactic (Review on Antimicrobial Resistance).

Other factors include inadequate prevention and control of infections related to poor hygiene (wash hands!), access to proper sanitation and safe water, and immunization. In addition to taking action to slow the spread of infections, we need to employ collaborative ways to find new antibiotics, and we need more people to join and support the Small World Initiative in our endeavor to crowdsource antibiotic discovery.

Consider what impactful action you can take to help solve the public health emergency of our time. What can you do to help raise awareness of the threat of antibiotic resistance and get others to act?

How to Enter

  1. You must be a current or former SWI student to be eligible. (You may enter as a team or individually.)
  2. Do something about the antibiotic crisis. Use one of our ideas (below) or create your own.
  3. Share what you did online via Twitter with @Team_SWI or through SWI’s Facebook Group Page. Include your full name, school, how many people you impacted, and the following hashtags: #dosomething #BeAntibioticsAware #AntibioticResistance. (Remember…if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Don’t let your important actions go unnoticed. Announce them online!)

Do Something About Antibiotics Ideas

Use these ideas or create your own! (Remember to get permission from your instructor if you are doing something on campus.)

  • Get inspired by last year’s creative entries here.
  • Make a Video (max 5 minutes) – Be a director and/or an actor in your own medical genre classic bringing viewers on your journey to learn about the antibiotic crisis. Consider answering some of the following questions: What is antibiotic resistance? Why should you be concerned? What can you do about it? Where would you expect to find microbes that produce antibiotics? (For ideas, check out this winning entry from the Teen Genes Challenge judged by our very own Dr. Todd Kelson (BYU). Other interesting videos to get your creative juices flowing: sample 1 and sample 2.)
  • Organize an Event – Ever want to share your research with the community? Maybe, you want to host an open house and walk others through what you are doing and why it is important. Are you a movie lover? Consider screening an outbreak-style film with an important message on how to keep that from happening in real life. Like games? Consider hosting a tournament to play Gut Check or Pandemic.
  • Bake for Antibiotic Resistance – Do you like to practice your plating skills in the kitchen? Wonder what impact eating icing streaked, Petri-dish shaped cookies has on people? Hold an antibiotic-themed bake sale.
  • Measure – Wonder how many people at your school really wash their hands after using the restroom? Curious about whether your classmates demand antibiotics every time they feel sick? Create a mini-study and share your results. How does your school compare to national averages? What recommendations do you have for improvement?
  • Write a Song – Did you ever want to join The Voice but did not know how to incorporate your love for microbiology? Not a great singer but enjoy lip syncing while digging in soil and hunting for microbes? Make a funny song or lip sync about something related to antibiotic resistance.
  • Buzz – Create an online interactive quiz on buzzfeed to spread awareness on antibiotic resistance. Remember to follow their posting rules.
  • Fundraise – Add a fundraising element to your action. Consider using funds to help students at your school attend the Small World Initiative Symposium or donating to help the Small World Initiative train more educators from under-resourced schools. Film screenings and bake sales can have a fundraising element. Or, maybe, you want to design a catchy t-shirt on antibiotic resistance. Even better, create the next ice bucket challenge. Be sure to get permission from your instructor first. Let us know what you raise so that we can announce it.
  • Passionate about something else? Consider how you might incorporate that into our do something challenge.


We are excited to announce three award packages!

The National Institutes of Health Award Packages

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is offering two identical award packages – one for the winning undergraduate team or student and one for the winning high school team or student. The winners will receive:

  • Special NIH Career Event

Are you interested in finding out what career opportunities are open to students who persist in the sciences? Do you want to hear about how successful NIH scientists got to where they are today? The NIH will work with the winners to provide a special career event. Depending on the location of the winners, they may either be hosted at the NIH or the NIH will send an expert to the winners’ schools.

  • NIH Internship Application Facilitation

Have you ever considered what it might be like to work at the National Institutes of Health but found the application process challenging? What if you could get some personal assistance with the process that could help your chances at securing a spot? For winning students or up to two members of each winning team, the NIH will help facilitate the application process for summer internship programs at the NIH and open summer volunteer positions.

  • Official Congratulations from Dr. Anthony Fauci

Imagine hearing a rockstar scientist recognize your winning contribution. Depending on the location of the winners, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Dr. Anthony Fauci, will either meet with the winners (if they are local) or create a video message congratulating them (if they are not local). Dr. Fauci was appointed Director of NIAID in 1984 and oversees an extensive research portfolio of basic and applied research to prevent, diagnose, and treat established infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, respiratory infections, diarrheal diseases, tuberculosis, and malaria as well as emerging diseases such as Ebola and Zika. Dr. Fauci has advised five US Presidents and the US Department of Health and Human Services on HIV/AIDS and many other domestic and global health issues. He was one of the principal architects of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), a program that has saved millions of lives throughout the developing world, and has made seminal contributions to the understanding of how HIV destroys the body’s defenses leading to its susceptibility to deadly infections. Further, he has been instrumental in developing treatments that enable people with HIV to live long and active lives. Dr. Fauci has also made many contributions to basic and clinical research on the pathogenesis and treatment of immune-mediated and infectious diseases. He is one of the most cited researchers of all time.

  • A Special Laboratory Tour

Have you ever wanted to learn about what goes on inside a biocontainment laboratory? Depending on the location of the winners, the NIH will facilitate a special laboratory tour at the NIH’s biocontainment laboratories (BSL-3/BSL-4) or at a nearby laboratory.

  • Official NIH Award Certificate

Perfect for Snapchatting, Instagramming, and Tweeting your success to the world and proudly displaying on your wall.

  • NIH Swag

Your dream of possessing items with the NIH logo is within reach!

  • International acclaim!

…or at least acclaim from the Small World Initiative and NIH. Your award will be announced on our website and through social media, and you will be profiled online.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Award Package

The winner will receive: 

  • A Much-Coveted Mentoring Session with Dr. Lauri Hicks

Dr. Hicks is a Medical Epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases; the Medical Director for the CDC’s Antibiotic Awareness Program; the Director for the CDC’s Office of Antibiotic Stewardship in the Division of Healthcare Quality Promotion; a Commander in the US Public Health Service; and an Adjunct Professor of Medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She leads research on antibiotic use and resistance trends and serves as the Get Smart spokeswoman. Globally, she has fostered CDC, European Union, and World Health Organization collaboration leading joint antibiotic awareness observances. Her expertise is in bacterial respiratory diseases, outbreak investigations, and antibiotic resistance and use.

  • A Special Tour of the David J. Spencer CDC Museum with an Expert

Imagine where you might fit in the history of public health as you tour the David J. Spencer Museum on a global health odyssey. Granted you might only be able to take advantage of this perk if you will be near Atlanta, Georgia.

  • CDC Award Certificate

Perfect for Snapchatting, Instagramming, and Tweeting your success to the world and proudly displaying on your wall.

  • CDC Swag
  • International acclaim!

…or at least acclaim from the Small World Initiative and CDC Antibiotics Awareness Program. Your award will be announced on our website and through social media, and you will be profiled online.

And the Winners are…!
All other entries will be posted in our Gallery in the near future.