- Antibiotics are essential for both treating and preventing infectious diseases. Paradoxically, despite their importance as pillars of modern medicine, we are in danger of losing antibiotics because of the evolution and dissemination of resistance mechanisms throughout all pathogenic microbes. This fact, coupled with an inability to bring new drugs to market at a pace that matches resistance, has resulted in a crisis of global proportion. Solving this crisis requires the actions of many stakeholders, but chemists, chemical biologists, and microbiologists must drive the scientific innovation that is required to maintain our antibiotic arsenal. This innovation requires (1) a deep understanding of the evolution and reservoirs of resistance; (2) full knowledge of the molecular mechanisms of antibiotic action and resistance; (3) the discovery of chemical and genetic probes of antibiotic action and resistance; (4) the integration of systems biology into antibiotic discovery; and (5) the discovery of new antimicrobial chemical matter. Addressing these pressing scientific gaps will ensure that we can meet the antibiotic crisis with creativity and purpose.