Imperial College London

Professor Francis Drobniewski

Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Infectious Disease

Chair in Global Health and Tuberculosis







Commonwealth BuildingHammersmith Campus





Professor Drobniewski is Professor of Global Health and Tuberculosis at Imperial College London. He is also the Director of the WHO Supranational Reference Laboratory.

His clinical work includes roles as a Consultant Medical Microbiologist and a Consultant Physician in Clinical Tuberculosis


Our research sits firmly at the boundary of basic and translational sciences where scientific advances in for example,  understanding the genetic and biochemical mechanisms of drug resistance have been developed into practical diagnostic tests, evaluated in multicenter trials and implemented into NHS and clinical practice.  These have involved utlising multiple approaches including social and behavioural to address clinical problems and achieve desired goals.

Similarly the patients we typically deal with (eg TB, HIV, multi-cultural, ethnic and linguistic, frequently with major social problems including alcoholism, intra-venous drug abuse, homeless ness, prior imprisonment) require a multi-disciplinary scientific and clinical approach to address complex needs and perceptions about their illness.  Addressing their major clinical needs often involves solving medically minor but patient-important issues relating to benefits, eye and foot care for example. 

Specifically the basic and translational research interests of our group focuses on:

--all aspects of tuberculosis (TB) (and its interaction with HIV) locally, nationally and internationally. Since 84% of TB cases in London, for example, occur in individuals born abroad one cannot address the UK dimension without thinking internationally.

--the diagnosis of TB infection (eg using gamma-interferon release assays), active disease and other mycobacterial disease

--identifying host and pathogen (eg mRNA) markers for cure in drug resistant and other complex cases of TB;

--understanding the molecular epidemiology and global evolution/phylogeny of tuberculosis and other mycobacteria

--broader public health problems posed by TB, HIV and other diseases of poverty both in the UK and overseas; TB provides an excellent model for public health and the development of national and international health and social policy issues.  Multiple medical, scientific and behavioural strategies are needed to achieve a desired outcome for the patient (cure) and the population (interruption of disease transmission).

--understanding and measuring drug resistance in TB and establishing causes of drug resistance including the fitness of drug resistant TB stains

--determining how differences in TB strains affect virulence and to what extent these differences affect the interaction between TB and HIV,

Future Research:

In addition to studying the biology of tuberculosis (TB) we use it as an excellent model to study clinical (eg drug resistance), behavioural and health-service programmatic issues. For example, we have created a Diagnostic and Clinical Trial Network in Eastern Europe with partners to develop and evaluate novel diagnostics (including working with the Foundation for Innovative and Novel Diagnostics FIND) and new therapies, such as our study of antimicrobial drug resistance.  We have experience of working with industry as well in the development and evaluation of novel systems.

 Much of our UK laboratory activity over the next 5 years will focus on the analysis of our banks of stored sera/plasma, urine and human DNA as well as pathogen DNA from our longitudinal and cross-sectional patient cohorts from Eastern Europe with our partners.  We have completed a population-based bacterial genoming sequencing study within our  “1000 TB Genome Project , and are analysing immunological biomarkers of cure and diagnosis within our longitudinal field cohorts and the role of innate immunity for TB and HIV together with the role of strain variation in infectivity and pathogenesis.  We are working with others at Imperial, QMUL and UCL and in the PHE on latent TB infection; the stored sera and monocytes offer a resource for future diagnostic development as well as biomarker discovery and identification of new drug targets.

In the future we also want to benefit from being able to interact with so many experts at Imperial by exploring the effects of climate range on infectious diseases particularly in northern and eastern Europe and the Arctic collaborating with those in Europe.

Finally, understanding patient needs and perceptions about their health is the key to successful diagnosis and therapy in the patient population I see and these lessons can be applied to a wide range of different patient groups. We hope to learn from others at Imperial with a similar interest and contribute to a better understanding of patient requirements and needs across the multicultural groups we work with.


Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Drobniewski F, Kusuma D, Broda A, et al., 2022, COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in diverse groups in the UK — is the driver economic or cultural in student populations, Vaccines, Vol:10, ISSN:2076-393X, Pages:501-501

Drobniewski F, Keshavjee S, 2021, COVID-19 and Tuberculosis-A global tale of hubris and lessons unlearned?, Frontiers in Medicine, Vol:8, Pages:1-4

Larrouy-Maumus G, Broda A, Drobniewski F, et al., 2021, An improved method for rapid detection of Mycobacterium abscessus complex based on species-specific lipids fingerprint by routine MALDI-TOF, Frontiers in Chemistry, Vol:9, ISSN:2296-2646, Pages:1-7

Maurer FP, Shubladze N, Kalmambetova G, et al., 2021, Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on tuberculosis national reference laboratory services in the WHO European Region, March to November 2020., Eurosurveillance, Vol:26, ISSN:1025-496X, Pages:1-6

Gonzalo X, Broda A, Drobniewski F, et al., 2021, Performance of lipid fingerprint-based MALDI-ToF for the diagnosis of mycobacterial infections, Clinical Microbiology and Infection, Vol:27, ISSN:1198-743X, Pages:912.e1-912.e5

Benet S, Galvez C, Drobniewski F, et al., 2021, Dissemination of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is associated to a SIGLEC1 null variant that limits antigen exchange via trafficking extracellular vesicles, Journal of Extracellular Vesicles, Vol:10, ISSN:2001-3078, Pages:1-17

Surkova E, Nikolayevskyy V, Drobniewski F, 2020, False-positive COVID-19 results: hidden problems and costs, Lancet Respiratory Medicine, Vol:8, ISSN:2213-2600, Pages:1167-1168

Nikolayevskyy V, Balabanova Y, Kontsevaya I, et al., 2020, Biomarkers of treatment success in fully sensitive pulmonary tuberculosis patients: a multicenter longitudinal study, Biomarkers in Medicine, Vol:14, ISSN:1752-0363, Pages:1439-1452

Gonzalo X, Satta G, Ortiz Canseco J, et al., 2020, Ertapenem and faropenem against mycobacterium tuberculosis: in vitro testing and comparison by macro and microdilution., BMC Microbiology, Vol:20, ISSN:1471-2180, Pages:1-7

Dara M, Ehsani S, Mozalevskis A, et al., 2020, Tuberculosis, HIV, and viral hepatitis diagnostics in eastern Europe and central Asia: high time for integrated and people-centred services, Lancet Infectious Diseases, Vol:20, ISSN:1473-3099, Pages:e47-e53

Lalor MK, Casali N, Walker TM, et al., 2018, The use of whole-genome sequencing in cluster investigation of an MDR-TB outbreak, European Respiratory Journal, Vol:51, ISSN:0903-1936

Balabanova Y, Fiebig L, Ignatyeva O, et al., 2017, Multidrug-resistant TB in Eastern region of the EU: is the shorter regimen an exception or a rule?, Thorax, Vol:72, ISSN:1468-3296, Pages:850-852

Bielecka MK, Tezera LB, Zmijan R, et al., 2017, A bioengineered three-dimensional cell culture platform integrated with microfluidics to address antimicrobial resistance in tuberculosis, MBIO, Vol:8, ISSN:2150-7511

Casali N, Broda A, Harris SR, et al., 2016, Whole Genome Sequence Analysis of a Large Isoniazid-Resistant Tuberculosis Outbreak in London: A Retrospective Observational Study, PLOS Medicine, Vol:13, ISSN:1549-1277

Papaventsis D, Casali N, Kontsevaya I, et al., 2016, Whole genome sequencing of M. tuberculosis for detection of drug resistance: a systematic review, Clinical Microbiology and Infection, Vol:23, ISSN:1469-0691, Pages:61-68

Balabanova Y, Ignatyeva O, Fiebig L, et al., 2016, Survival of patients with multidrug-resistant TB in Eastern Europe: what makes a difference?, Thorax, Vol:71, ISSN:1468-3296, Pages:854-861

Nikolayevskyy V, Kranzer K, Niemann S, et al., 2016, Whole genome sequencing of Mycobacteriumtuberculosis for detection of recent transmission and tracing outbreaks: a systematic review, Tuberculosis, Vol:98, ISSN:1873-281X, Pages:77-85

Drobniewski F, Cooke M, Jordan J, et al., 2015, Systematic review, meta-analysis and economic modelling of molecular diagnostic tests for antibiotic resistance in tuberculosis, Health Technology Assessment, Vol:19, ISSN:1366-5278

Curtis J, Luo Y, Zenner HL, et al., 2015, Susceptibility to tuberculosis is associated with variants in the ASAP1 gene encoding a regulator of dendritic cell migration, Nature Genetics, Vol:47, ISSN:1546-1718, Pages:523-527

Nikolayevskyy V, Miotto P, Pimkina E, et al., 2015, Utility of propidium monoazide viability assay as a biomarker for a tuberculosis disease, Tuberculosis, Vol:95, ISSN:1472-9792, Pages:179-185

Merker M, Blin C, Mona S, et al., 2015, Evolutionary history and global spread of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis Beijing lineage (vol 47, pg 242, 2015), Nature Genetics, Vol:47, ISSN:1061-4036

Miotto P, Cabibbe AM, Feuerriegel S, et al., 2014, Mycobacterium tuberculosis Pyrazinamide Resistance Determinants: a Multicenter Study, MBIO, Vol:5, ISSN:2150-7511

Walker TM, Lalor MK, Broda A, et al., 2014, Assessment of Mycobacterium tuberculosis transmission in Oxfordshire, UK, 2007-12, with whole pathogen genome sequences: an observational study, The Lancet Respiratory Medicine, Vol:2, ISSN:2213-2600, Pages:285-292

Casali N, Nikolayevskyy V, Balabanova Y, et al., 2014, Evolution and transmission of drug-resistant tuberculosis in a Russian population, Nature Genetics, Vol:46, ISSN:1546-1718, Pages:279-286

Drobniewski F, Nikolayevskyy V, Maxeiner H, et al., 2013, Rapid diagnostics of tuberculosis and drug resistance in the industrialized world: clinical and public health benefits and barriers to implementation, BMC Medicine, Vol:11, ISSN:1741-7015

Coussens AK, Wilkinson RJ, Nikolayevskyy V, et al., 2013, Ethnic Variation in Inflammatory Profile in Tuberculosis, Plos Pathogens, Vol:9, ISSN:1553-7374

Seddon P, Fidler K, Raman S, et al., 2013, Prevalence of Nontuberculous Mycobacteria in Cystic Fibrosis Clinics, United Kingdom, 2009, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol:19, ISSN:1080-6059, Pages:1128-1130

Gonzalo X, Drobniewski F, 2013, Is there a place for -lactams in the treatment of multidrug-resistant/extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis? Synergy between meropenem and amoxicillin/clavulanate, Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, Vol:68, ISSN:0305-7453, Pages:366-369

Broda A, Jebbari H, Beaton K, et al., 2013, Comparative Drug Resistance of Mycobacterium abscessus and M. chelonae Isolates from Patients with and without Cystic Fibrosis in the United Kingdom, Journal of Clinical Microbiology, Vol:51, ISSN:0095-1137, Pages:217-223

Coussens AK, Wilkinson RJ, Hanifa Y, et al., 2012, Vitamin D accelerates resolution of inflammatory responses during tuberculosis treatment, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol:109, ISSN:0027-8424, Pages:15449-15454

Balabanova Y, Radiulyte B, Davidaviciene E, et al., 2012, Risk factors for drug-resistant tuberculosis patients in Lithuania, 2002-2008, European Respiratory Journal, Vol:39, ISSN:0903-1936, Pages:1266-1269

Casali N, Nikolayevskyy V, Balabanova Y, et al., 2012, Microevolution of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis in Russia, Genome Research, Vol:22, ISSN:1088-9051, Pages:735-745

Seoudi N, Mitchell SL, Brown TJ, et al., 2012, Rapid molecular detection of tuberculosis and rifampicin drug resistance: retrospective analysis of a national UK molecular service over the last decade, Thorax, Vol:67, ISSN:0040-6376, Pages:361-367

Thye T, Owusu-Dabo E, Vannberg FO, et al., 2012, Common variants at 11p13 are associated with susceptibility to tuberculosis, Nature Genetics, Vol:44, ISSN:1061-4036, Pages:257-259

Balabanova Y, Balabanova Y, Nikolayevskyy V, et al., 2011, Survival of Civilian and Prisoner Drug-Sensitive, Multiand Extensive Drug- Resistant Tuberculosis Cohorts Prospectively Followed in Russia, PLOS One, Vol:6, ISSN:1932-6203

Martineau AR, Timms PM, Bothamley GH, et al., 2011, High-dose vitamin D-3 during intensive-phase antimicrobial treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis: a double-blind randomised controlled trial, The Lancet, Vol:377, ISSN:0140-6736, Pages:242-250

Balabanova Y, Radiulyte B, Davidaviciene E, et al., 2011, Survival of drug resistant tuberculosis patients in Lithuania: retrospective national cohort study, Bmj Open, Vol:1, ISSN:2044-6055

Abubakar I, Moore J, Drobniewski F, et al., 2009, Extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis in the UK: 1995 to 2007, Thorax, Vol:64, ISSN:0040-6376, Pages:512-515

Wright AW, Zignol M, Van Deun A, et al., 2009, Epidemiology of antituberculosis drug resistance 2002-07: an updated analysis of the Global Project on Anti-Tuberculosis Drug Resistance Surveillance, The Lancet, Vol:373, ISSN:0140-6736, Pages:1861-1873

Nejentsev S, Thye T, Szeszko JS, et al., 2008, Analysis of association of the TIRAP (MAL) S180L variant and tuberculosis in three populations, Nature Genetics, Vol:40, ISSN:1061-4036, Pages:261-262

Szeszko JS, Healy B, Stevens H, et al., 2007, Resequencing and association analysis of the SP110 gene in adult pulmonary tuberculosis, Human Genetics, Vol:121, ISSN:0340-6717, Pages:155-160

Drobniewski F, Balabanova Y, Balabanova Y, et al., 2007, Rates of latent tuberculosis in health care staff in Russia, Plos Medicine, Vol:4, ISSN:1549-1676, Pages:0273-0279

Drobniewski FA, Hoffner S, Rusch-Gerdes S, et al., 2006, Recommended standards for modern tuberculosis laboratory services in Europe, European Respiratory Journal, Vol:28, ISSN:0903-1936, Pages:903-909

Drobniewski FA, Balabanova YM, Ruddy MC, et al., 2005, Tuberculosis, HIV seroprevalence and intravenous drug abuse in prisoners, European Respiratory Journal, Vol:26, ISSN:0903-1936, Pages:298-304

Drobniewski F, Balabanova Y, Nikolayevsky V, et al., 2005, Drug-resistant, tuberculosis, clinical virulence, and the dominance of the Beijing strain family in Russia, JAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol:293, ISSN:0098-7484, Pages:2726-2731


Jackson C, Southern J, Whitworth HS, et al., 2013, DIABETES AND LATENT TUBERCULOSIS INFECTION: NESTED CASE-CONTROL STUDY WITHIN THE PREDICT COHORT, Winter Meeting of the British-Thoracic-Society, BMJ PUBLISHING GROUP, Pages:A31-A32, ISSN:0040-6376

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