Imperial College London

CMBI PI wins first Africa-focused seed fund


Brian Robertson

CMBI's Dr Brian Robertson will collaborate with researchers from MIT and University of Cape Town to investigate how tuberculosis is transmitted.

Imperial College London and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have announced the winners of the first Africa-focused seed fund.

The funded projects will bring scientists together from Imperial, MIT and partner institutions­­ in Africa, to work on infectious disease, high energy physics and eco-friendly refrigerants.

The MIT - Africa - Imperial College London Seed Fund promotes early-stage collaboration between faculty and researchers at MIT, Imperial College London and institutions in Africa.

Fluorescence detection of tuberculosis transmission (University of Cape Town)

Principal Investigators: Dr Brian Robertson, Imperial, Professor Laura Kiessling, MIT, Professor Digby Warner, University of Cape Town.

The “fluorTB” consortium comprising researchers from MIT, Imperial and the University of Cape Town (UCT) in South Africa will investigate how tuberculosis (TB) is transmitted. South Africa has a high incidence of TB and researchers at UCT have developed personal clean room technology to investigate when TB is transmitted – for example, whether it spreads through actions such as talking as well as coughing – and how quickly anti-TB therapy prevents the release of infectious aerosols. The MIT - Africa - Imperial College London Seed funding will allow researchers at MIT and Imperial to explore the use of advanced fluorescence labelling – causing live bacteria to glow in a manner that will increase their visibility under a microscope. The research could help restrict the spread of TB in the future by helping doctors to determine which patients are most infectious.

UCT’s Professor Digby Warner said: “This collaboration is very exciting as it offers the potential to speed up detection of viable TB aerosols, thereby increasing the efficacy of therapeutic interventions which can be targeted to infectious individuals in real-time.”


Nicola Tingley

Nicola Tingley
Department of Medicine