Dr. Rama Vankayalapati will be the principal investigator to discover the immune responses to tuberculosis. The research was made possible by a $1.4 million grant renewal enabling the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler researchers to continue the project.

With assistance from a nearly $1.4 million grant renewal, the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler researchers can continue investigations to fight tuberculosis in the biomedical research center.

The grant was awarded from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and CRDF Global. Dr. Rama (Krishna) Vankayalapati will be the prinicpal investigator to discover the immune responses to the disease. The study seeks to find biological markers to determine if someone has an increased risk of developing tuberculosis, according to a news release.

The study will be conducted in India through the Regional Prospective Observational Research for Tuberculosis (RePORT)-India consortia.

The Indo-NIH investment and TB research consortium of RePORT-India has developed cohorts of TB cases and household contacts in India and paired Indian investigators with U.S. investigators.

Partners in the study are Johns Hopkins University, Rutgers University, Boston University and the University of Massachusetts. Vankayalapati’s research concerns TB patient household contacts in India, the release stated.

The first phase of the study has taken place over the past five years, and the grant renewal will allow the second phase to begin to further the findings for another five years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still calls the disease one of the world’s deadliest despite being less common in the U.S. The CDC states that a quarter of the world’s population is infected by tuberculosis.

“Our research helps to ensure that the United States continues to maintain a low incidence rate,” Vankayalapati said.“As we come to understand more about TB, we are able to take preventive actions to ensure that we do not have a mass tuberculosis outbreak.”

Vankayalapati’s team consists of Drs. Julie Philley, Buka Samten, Deepak Tripathi, Karan Singh and Richard Idell, according to the release.

“We want to understand why everyone isn’t contracting TB. Everyone is exposed to it within the home; however, not everyone is becoming infected,” Vankayalapati said.

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