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The HARMONY typing network was part of the European Union (EU) Directorate General XII (now the Directorate-General for Research) funded project 'Harmonisation of Antibiotic Resistance measurement, Methods of typing Organisms and ways of using these and other tools to increase the effectiveness of Nosocomial Infection control', awarded in 1999. Other aspects of the project comprised the exploration of the feasibility of developing a consensual approach to infection control guidelines, examining the issues of antimicrobial susceptibility standardisation and developing a tool to facilitate the establishment of effective antibiotic stewardship [1,2]. Many of the typing group participants were also members of the International Union of Microbiology Societies' (IUMS) Staphylococcal Sub-Committee. This was established in the 1970s to ensure that phage typing was standardised globally and to provide propagating phages for phage-typing [3]. Over time phage-typing had become less useful for some strains of methicillin-resistant and, indeed, methicillin-sensitive, Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA and MSSA), as they had become non phage-typable [3]. The IUMS Staphylococcal Sub-Committee now included reference laboratories and centres of staphylococcal research excellence with interests in typing staphylococci by molecular techniques which were more effective than phage for typing some staphylococci. When we started the HARMONY project, it was at a time of tremendous advances in molecular typing methods and we thus added new techniques to the HARMONY assessment process as these became relevant and practical propositions. There were also other aims such as, for example, agreeing criteria for referral of isolates to a typing laboratory and an approach to the nomenclature of MRSA strains. .


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