Scientific Challenges

Estimated incidence per 100,000 population (2008)
Source: World Health Organization
Confirmed multi-drug resistant TB cases (2008)
Source: World Health Organization
Estimated incidence (2007)
Source: World Health Organization
Estimated TB cases who are HIV-positive(2008)
Source: World Health Organization
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Using the tools of basic science, the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV seeks new approaches to fighting these deadly diseases.

Scientific Opportunities

The Pym, Ndung'u and Balagadde labs are looking for outstanding, innovative post doctoral research fellows.


The Sigal lab is looking for Masters students with a background in computer science, physics, engineering or applied mathematics to join his lab for a Systems Biology project. 



Low levels of peripheral CD161++CD8+ Mucosal Associated Invariant T (MAIT) cells are found in HIV and HIV/TB co-infection - PLos ONE, 2013 Dec 31; 8(12):e83474. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083474. (PMID: 234391773)
Diagnostic accuracy of quantitative PCR (Xpert MTB/RIF) for tuberculous meningitis in a high burden setting: a prospective study. - PLoS Med. 2013 Oct;10(10):e1001536. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001536. Epub 2013 Oct 22
Non-immunogenicity of overlapping gag peptides pulsed on autologous cells after vaccination of HIV infected individuals. - PLoS One. 2013 Oct 4;8(10):e74389. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0074389. eCollection 2013
Ability of HIV-1 Nef to downregulate CD4 and HLA class I differs among viral subtypes. - Retrovirology. 2013 Sep 16;10:100. doi: 10.1186/1742-4690-10-100.
Nef-specific CD8+ T cell responses contribute to HIV-1 immune control. - PLoS One. 2013 Sep 2;8(9):e73117. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073117. eCollection 2013
CD8aa expression marks terminally differentiated human CD8CT cells expanded in chronic viral infection - Front Immunol. 2013 Aug 6;4:223. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2013.00223. eCollection 2013.
Rising to the challenge: new therapies for tuberculosis - 2013 Jun 10. doi:pii: S0966-842X(13)00086-3. 10.1016/j.tim.2013.05.002. [Epub ahead of print] (PMID: 23764389)
Bettering BCG: a tough task for a TB vaccine? - Nature Medicine 2013 Apr;19(4):410-1. doi: 10.1038/nm.3153.
Discovery of a siderophore export system essential for virulence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. - PLoS Pathog. 2013 Jan;9(1):e1003120. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003120. Epub 2013 Jan 31.
The Physiology and genetics of oxidative stress in mycobacteria - In: Molecular Genetics of Mycobacteria. 2nd edition 2013
Modeling early bactericidal activity in murine tuberculosis provides insights into the activity of isoniazid and pyrazinamide. - Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Sep 11;109(37):15001-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1203636109. Epub 2012 Aug 27.
Heme oxygenase-1 promotes granuloma development and protects against dissemination of mycobacteria. - Lab Invest. 2012 Nov;92(11):1541-52. doi: 10.1038/labinvest.2012.125. Epub 2012 Sep 10.
Modeling early bactericidal activity in murine tuberculosis provides insights into the activity of isoniazid and pyrazinamide. - Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Sep 11;109(37):15001-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1203636109. Epub 2012 Aug 27.
As Good As It Gets? The Problem of HIV Persistence despite Antiretroviral Drugs. - Cell Host Microbe. 2012 Aug 16;12(2):132-8. *Corresponding author.
New drugs for the treatment of tuberculosis: hope and reality. - Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2012 Aug;16(8):1005-14. doi: 10.5588/ijtld.12.0277.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis WhiB4 regulates oxidative stress response to modulate survival and dissemination in vivo. - Mol Microbiol. 2012 Sep;85(6):1148-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2012.08165.x. Epub 2012 Jul 26.
Environmental heme-based sensor proteins: implications for understanding bacterial pathogenesis. - Antioxid Redox Signal. 2012 Nov 1;17(9):1232-45. doi: 10.1089/ars.2012.4613. Epub 2012 Jun 13.
Iron sulfur cluster proteins and microbial regulation: implications for understanding tuberculosis. - Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2012 Apr;16(1-2):45-53. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2012.03.004. Epub 2012 Apr 4.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis WhiB3: a novel iron-sulfur cluster protein that regulates redox homeostasis and virulence. - Antioxid Redox Signal. 2012 Apr 1;16(7):687-97. doi: 10.1089/ars.2011.4341.
Reduced antituberculosis drug concentrations in HIV-infected patients who are men or have low weight: implications for international dosing guidelines. - Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2012 Jun;56(6):3232-8. doi: 10.1128/AAC.05526-11. Epub 2012 Mar 12.
Redox homeostasis in mycobacteria: the key to tuberculosis control? - Expert Rev Mol Med. 2011 Dec 16;13:e39. doi: 10.1017/S1462399411002079.
International Spread of MDR TB from Tugela Ferry, South Africa - Emerg Infect Dis. 2011 Nov;17(11):2035-7. doi: 10.3201/eid1711.110291.
In silico children and the glass mouse model - Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2011 Feb

Leo Quayle joins the K-RITH Board, having retired as a director of KPMG services in 2013, where he was operating in the Advisory division.

Over 3000 learners got a boost in their understanding of tuberculosis (TB) recently when their schools participated in an outreach programme run by K-RITH which aimed to raise awareness about this deadly disease for World TB Day 2014.

K-RITH PhD student Rosemary Swanson's presentation was entitled ‘Pharmacokinetics of Clofazamine in the murine model of Tuberculosis’, or to put it in layman’s terms, she spoke about how the TB drug Clofazamine distributes within the body of a mouse infected with TB.

DURBAN, South Africa. 24 March 2014: On World Tuberculosis Day, IBM and the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH) have announced plans to research new treatment approaches to fight tuberculosis (TB) in South Africa.  IBM’s Big Data analytics technologies will be put to work on bacterial genetics and drug susceptibility tests to better understand the genomic mechanisms that cause resistance to antibiotics. The ultimate goal is to find new treatments and diagnostic approaches to fight TB.

Thomas Scriba emphasised a new perspective in the challenge to find an effective TB vaccine at what was the second K-RITH Seminar series talk to take place in 2014.  His team is looking at what happens in the immune systems of patients who succumb to TB before they get sick.           

April 25, 2014

Dr. Digby Warner, Senior Research Officer, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM) and Department of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, will be speaking on 'A vitamin B12 shot for Mycobacterium tuberculosis 

May 26, 2014 - May 30, 2014

K-RITH will host an Interactive Biostatistics Course from 26 - 30 May 2014.  The primary goal of this course is to give participants an overview of the various biostatistical methods used in medical research so that they can both employ these techniques in their own research and better understand the results presented in medical literature.

February 28, 2014

Thomas Scriba, Deputy Director of Immunology, South African TB Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) Associate Professor, UCT, will be speaking on 'Should vaccination against TB target T cells?'

February 21, 2014

Musa Mhlanga, Research Group Leader of the Gene Expression and Biophysics Group at CSIR Biosciences, Pretoria, will be speaking on Gene regulation via gene looping & noncoding RNA.

February 5, 2014

K-RITH Investigator, Thumbi Ndung'u, will be presenting on 'HIV adaptation to immune pressure and the quest for a vaccine' at the 2014 SAIS Conference in Cape Town.