BCOM’s Infectious Disease Interest Group with faculty advisers Dr. Michael Woods, Dr. Tim Shipley, and Dr. Debra Bramblett.

The BCOM Infectious Disease Interest Group (IDIG) is working to raise awareness about one of the biggest health challenges the world is currently facing: antibiotic resistance. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 2 million people get an antibiotic-resistant infection, and at least 23,000 people die every year.

“As future physicians, we will encounter antibiotic resistant infections, and it is crucial that we know how to combat these diseases,” explained Dylan Gallegos, a second year medical student at BCOM who serves as IDIG’s president. “The IDIG is a student organization that focuses on educating medical students about the field of infectious diseases through both clinical medicine and research. Our goal is to encourage education and acknowledgment of the impact that the field of infectious diseases has and its application throughout medicine. The world of infectious diseases changes at a remarkable rate and it is up to us to stay as up to date as possible on current treatment recommendations and the newest therapies or vaccines.”

The IDIG began their efforts in November, coinciding with U.S. Antibiotics Awareness Week, by setting up an information table at BCOM that provided handouts with facts and highlights about antibiotic resistance and awareness. They then took the table to NMSU’s Corbett Center where they also offered information about BCOM and Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine.

Gallegos also applied for a $500 grant from the Infectious Disease Society of America, which was awarded to the BCOM IDIG to host a guest speaker event. “The money went towards food, door prizes, advertisement, and gifts for the speakers. We are a brand new group on campus and would not have been able to do this event without the grant money,” Gallegos said. “We plan to make Antibiotic Awareness Week the IDIG’s main event for years to come.”

On November 16, over 50 people from BCOM, NMSU, and the community showed up to hear the talks given by Erik Yukl, Ph.D, an assistant professor from NMSU’s Department of Chemistry; and Obiefuna Okoli, MD, an infectious disease specialist.

Erik Yukl, Ph.D; Obiefuna Okoli, MD; and IDIG President Dylan Gallegos

Gallegos said, “The most important message attendees took away from this event would have to be that there is a continued effort to generate new and effective therapies for antibiotic resistant bacteria. However, bacteria develop resistance to drugs faster than we can create them. It is critical that we, as future physicians, follow the proper protocol and antibiotic stewardship.”