UCSF Joins $200 Million Global Tuberculosis Consortium

USAID Funds Research on Tuberculosis Diagnostics, Therapeutics, Transmission Control, Vaccines and Local Stewardship

Researchers from UC San Francisco are part of a $200 million global consortium to develop new diagnostics, therapeutics, containment and control strategies to reduce the suffering from tuberculosis (TB) around the world.

Red-colored, rod shaped, Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria, which cause tuberculosis (TB) in human beings.
A digitally colorized scanning electron microscopic (SEM) image, depicts a grouping of red-colored, rod shaped, Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria, which cause tuberculosis (TB) in humans. Image by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

The project, Supporting, Mobilizing and Accelerating Research for Tuberculosis Elimination (SMART4TB), is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM).

Except for 2020, when it was surpassed by COVID-19, TB has been the leading cause of death from an infectious disease for the past decade, killing about 1.5 million people a year. Mortality rose in 2021, as detection fell by 20 percent during the pandemic.

At least 60 percent of the funds will support five hubs in two dozen countries where the disease is common, to develop TB expertise and leadership at local, regional, and national governments, health institutions and support organizations. UCSF will receive $51 million over five years, with subcontracts supporting work in Uganda and Vietnam.

“USAID’s SMART4TB program represents a major step forward through investments in TB research and development, and local capacity-building with five regional hubs that will accelerate the delivery of new tools and approaches to addressing this global public health emergency,” said Payam Nahid, MD, MPH, professor of Medicine at UCSF, director of the UCSF Center for Tuberculosis and project director of the UCSF subaward. “USAID’s SMART4TB program will enhance research, dissemination of findings and translation of results to national and global policies, and importantly will include data to improve the lives of children and other special populations with TB.”

Other consortium partners are KNCV Tuberculosis Foundation (KNCV), Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) and Treatment Action Group (TAG). The regional hubs include:

  • Kyrgyz State Medical Academy (Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan).
  • Walimu (Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania).
  • PHRU/Wits Health Consortium (South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe).
  • YRG Care (India and Bangladesh).
  • VICTORY Network (Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Philippines).

“This consortium embodies a transformative model for TB research, leveraging incredible strength and depth in diverse fields of TB research. The consortium not only includes preeminent researchers from UCSF and JHM, but also incredibly talented collaborators from diverse global settings where TB remains endemic,” said Mike Reid, MBBS, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at UCSF, associate director of the UCSF Center for Global Health Diplomacy, Delivery and Economics, and a technical lead on the UCSF subcontract. “By prioritizing these global experts and their local community partners in defining the TB research agenda, SMART4TB can ensure that both the questions we ask and how we answer them catalyzes TB research towards ending the epidemic once and for all.”