Sir Charles Hercus health research fellowship (2018 funding round)

Dr Htin Lin Aung
University of Otago, Dunedin
Combatting tuberculosis at local and international frontlines
$500,000
48 months

Lay summary

Tuberculosis (TB) is a curable disease caused mainly by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and yet paradoxically it claims over 1.5 million lives annually. Of growing concern is the prevalence of drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) worldwide. In New Zealand, TB cases born outside New Zealand account for 78 per cent of total cases, which have a significant effect on Maori and Pacific people (highest rates of TB cases in individuals born in New Zealand). Given the increased frequency of air travel and immigration from countries determined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as high risk for TB and DR-TB, New Zealand cannot be complacent. Tackling TB at international frontlines is therefore NZ’s key to control and eliminate TB. Employing next-generation sequencing technology as a molecular weapon, this proposed study aims to understand the transmission of TB and DR-TB, which will lead to the development of rapid molecular diagnostic tools for reducing the emergence and spread of DR-TB.

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