Professor Gregory Cook
Professor Gregory Cook (Photo: Otago University)

3 August 2015

Professor Gregory Cook from the University of Otago has been awarded $450,000 to determine the potential role of whole-genome sequencing for diagnosing and detecting outbreaks of drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) strains.

The project has been funded by the Health Research Council of New Zealand as part of the e-ASIA Joint Research Program (JRP). It will focus on state-of-the-art whole-genome sequencing for drug susceptibility testing of M. tuberculosis in Myanmar and Indonesia, two countries with high TB rates. Professor Cook and his team also expect to provide new insights into the transmissibility of resistant TB strains.

The resurgence of TB is of great concern. In 2012 there were an estimated 8.6 million new and relapse cases of TB worldwide. Drug-resistant TB strains threaten the global control and elimination of TB, which kills 1.3 million people annually.

The e-ASIA JRP formulates and supports international joint research projects in the East Asian region. The purpose of this program is to develop a vibrant and collaborative research community in science and technology, promote innovation in the East Asian region, and contribute to the region’s economic development.

Professor Cook’s project will combine international expertise in TB from the University of Otago, Universitas Padjadjaran (Indonesia), and University of Medicine (Myanmar). The team will also have the opportunity to work with researchers at the University of Cambridge (UK) who are carrying out world-leading whole-genome sequencing research on bacterial pathogens, including TB.

Professor Gregory Cook
University of Otago
Whole-genome sequencing of drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains for diagnostics and outbreak detection
36 months, $450,000