UGA GHI receives two NIH grants to fight global TB

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recently awarded the Global Health Institute (GHI) at the University of Georgia two grants for research projects aimed at decreasing the global burden of tuberculosis.

The first NIH grant, awarded over five years, will study the transmission of M. tuberculosis in an African city. GHI director Dr. Christopher Whalen and associate director Dr. Julie Sekandi, along with their research team at UGA, will collaborate with colleagues at Makerere University and Case Western Reserve University to determine the geographic ‘hotspots’ for transmission in Kampala, Uganda. With this knowledge, public health professionals can design community interventions to reduce transmission of tuberculosis and control the epidemic.

Dr. Sekandi was also awarded a two-year grant from the NIH Fogarty International Center to address the problem of non-adherence with treatment of tuberculosis. Non-adherence is a major obstacle to tuberculosis control because it reduces cure rates, prolongs infectiousness, and promotes drug-resistance. This study will evaluate the benefit of using smartphones to perform video-directed observed therapy – meaning a video selfie to record taking pills – to improve overall adherence and outcomes in treating tuberculosis.