Imperial College London


Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Medicine

Reader in Systems Microbiology



+44 (0)20 7594 3198b.robertson




Ms Sophie Kemp +44 (0)20 7594 3199




3.41Flowers buildingSouth Kensington Campus





Mycobacterium tuberculosis is one of the most successful pathogens affecting humankind: around 9 million people develop tuberculosis every year, resulting in 1.4 million deaths. Most people mount an immune response that is sufficient to control initial infection but they remain susceptible to reinfection or reactivation disease in later life. Immunological evidence suggests that up to two billion people worldwide may harbour latent tuberculosis, with a ten percent lifetime risk of developing active disease. The development of improved drugs, diagnostics and vaccines is central to the WHO End-TB strategy, which aims by 2035 for a:

95% reduction in TB deaths compared with 2015.

90% reduction in TB incidence rate compared with 2015.

Zero TB-affected families facing catastrophic costs due to TB

The aim of our research is to understand the host-pathogen interactions underlying the complex biology of tuberculosis infection, and to exploit this understanding for development of improved tools for disease control. We use genome-based biology, taking advantage of the availability of mycobacterial sequence data, techniques for mutagenesis and expression profiling, and the natural diversity of clinical isolates. We are investigating different ways to deliver anti-TB drugs, the potential of anti-microbial peptides, and host-directed therapies to improve TB treatment. We are also analysing how mycobacteria grow and divide, using microfluidics-based single cell analysis and time-lapse video microscopy. Analysis and integration of large amounts of data on host and pathogen responses to infection is increasingly dependent on techniques coming from systems biology including image analysis and mathematical modelling.

Brian Robertson is a founder member of the MRC Centre for Molecular Bacteriology and Infection, and the Centre for Integrative Systems Biology and Bioinformatics. He is Co Editor-in-Chief of the journal Tuberculosis, and Director of the Wellcome Trust funded 4-year PhD programme in the Molecular and Cellular Basis of Infection.

creating awareness of extremely drug resistant TB.

This is an extraordinary effort to tell the story of extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis and TB through powerful photographs taken by James Nachtwey, who has been covering war and human rights stories for 30 years. In 2007, he was awarded the TED Prize, which comes with $100,000 and one wish to change the world.



Asai M, Li Y, Khara J, et al., 2019, Use of the invertebrate Galleria Mellonella as an infection model to study the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex, Jove-journal of Visualized Experiments, ISSN:1940-087X

Roy RB, Sambou B, Uhia I, et al., 2019, An auto-luminescent fluorescent BCG whole blood assay to enable evaluation of paediatric mycobacterial responses using minimal blood volumes, Frontiers in Pediatrics, Vol:7, ISSN:2296-2360

Tenland E, Pochert A, Krishnan N, et al., 2019, Effective delivery of the anti-mycobacterial peptide NZX in mesoporous silica nanoparticles, Plos One, Vol:14, ISSN:1932-6203

Arthur PK, Amarh V, Cramer P, et al., 2019, Characterization of two new multidrug-resistant strains of mycobacterium smegmatis: tools for routine in vitro screening of novel anti-mycobacterial agents, Antibiotics, Vol:8, ISSN:2079-6382

O'Connor G, Krishnan N, Fagan-Murphy A, et al., 2019, Inhalable poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid) (PLGA) microparticles encapsulating all-trans-Retinoic acid (ATRA) as a host-directed, adjunctive treatment for Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection, European Journal of Pharmaceutics and Biopharmaceutics, Vol:134, ISSN:0939-6411, Pages:153-165

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