Tuberculosis (TB) is one of the world’s leading infectious causes of death, second only to HIV.

Ninety-five per cent of TB sufferers live in low- or middle-income countries such as China, India, Brazil or Indonesia. In 2009, TB deaths orphaned 10 million children worldwide.

Despite major gains in TB control in the Northern Territory (NT) in recent years, TB remains an important problem both here and in our near neighbours. Nine million new TB cases occur yearly, most of them in Southeast Asia. At our field research site in Malaysian Borneo (Sabah), TB is a leading health problem in children and adults.  

Our research focus:
  • To improve the diagnosis of TB in children and adults in Sabah, Malaysia, by optimising locally-available methods and introducing novel testing strategies to ensure early, appropriate treatment and better outcomes and survival rates.
  • To determine the rates of drug-resistant TB and HIV-TB co-infection in Sabah to ensure correct treatment for affected people.
  • To gain a better understanding of TB immunology and pathophysiology to help in the development of TB biomarkers and adjunctive treatments (medicines, which when used in conjunction with the standard antibiotics, lead to improved outcomes).
Our research impact:
  • Following Menzies’ finding that low nitric oxide is linked with worse outcomes in TB patients, future studies will investigate whether improving the lung’s nitric oxide production can help fight TB.
  • During our work in Papua, Indonesia, we developed a method to score chest TB x-rays, which is now being used by researchers internationally, including Malaysia, Africa and India.
  • We have provided important insights into TB outcomes, including TB-HIV co-infection, in Papua, Indonesia, which have led to changes in the local delivery of HIV care.