Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization -
International Vaccine Centre

Mycobacterial Pathogenesis and Tuberculosis Research Program

Project Leader: Jeffrey Chen

Members of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (e.g. M. bovis, M. tuberculosis) are bacterial pathogens that cause tuberculosis (TB), an infectious pulmonary disease in a variety of mammals including humans. TB consists of acute and chronic phases of infection and can be fatal if not treated properly. The World Health Organization estimates M. tuberculosis killed 1.3 million and sickened 8.4 million people in 2012. Although TB is curable, lengthy drug treatment regimens and side-effects has led to premature cessation of therapy by patients resulting in the evolution of drug-resistant M. tuberculosis strains. In addition, M. bovis causes significant financial losses to the cattle industry, affects a number of domestic and wild animals, and is a major cause of zoonotic infections. More novel and efficacious drugs and vaccines to combat TB in humans as well as commercially important livestock are urgently needed.

To better understand M. tuberculosis and M. bovis transmission and host-microbe interactions we are using an integrated approach including bacterial genetics, functional genomics and proteomics, systems biology, cell biology, chemical and structural biology, and the development of an animal model of infection.This pathogenesis knowledge will then be used to develop novel anti-TB drugs and vaccines.


  • Understanding the role of the multi-component secretion system, ESX-1, in TB host-pathogen interactions
  • Elucidating the molecular determinants of TB transmission
  • Engineering and testing novel TB vaccines