College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

International Consortium on Tuberculosis


Kaiser Health Disparities Report: A Weekly Look At Race, Ethnicity And Health
Immigrants arriving in the U.S. from Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Latin America have high rates of active or latent tuberculosis, highlighting a need for improved screening of the disease, according to a CDC study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Reuters reports (Stern, Reuters, 7/22).

ISCT members attended the first Edinburg, Texas Regional Academic Health Center population genetics conference.
Gaining a better understanding of the role genetics plays in the development of diseases such as diabetes and obesity that affect American Indian, Mexican and Central American populations more than other groups was the topic of the first population genetics conference at the Regional Academic Health Center in Edinburg. Read More...

ISCT Member Tom Weaver will be presented with the Bronislaw Malinowski Award at the next Society for Applied Anthropology meetings in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


Researchers from several universities, research institutes and State Public Health agencies (University of ArizonaKansasTexas Biomedical Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas, and State of Texas Department of Health El Paso) met November 10th, 2005 in Tucson, Arizona to discuss potential research collaboration. The discussions were focused on the genetic susceptibility to tuberculosis in indigenous populations of Mexico and the effects of infected migrants crossing the U.S. border.

This group reached agreement on several points:

  • To establish an international consortium for the study of tuberculosis
  • To locate the headquarters of this consortium at the University of Kansas, under the directorship of Dr. Michael H. Crawford;
  • To develop a pilot study on the genetic susceptibility of Tarahumara and Mestizo populations of the State of Chihuahua, Mexico
  • To meet with state and federal officials from Chihuahua and Mexico City to develop a Mexican consortium and work out the details for a long-term research collaboration.

During the first of three meetings in Chihuahua, officials from Servicios de Salud de Chihuahua, Instituto Chihuahuense de la Salud del Gobierno del Estado de Chihuahua, Hospital Infanti, Facultad de Enfermeria y Nutriologia de la Universidad Autonoma de  Chihuahua, Instituto Mexicano del Segura Social and Escuela Nacional de Antropologia e Historia  met and signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the two respective consortia (ICST and CIMBT).  

Since the two groups entered into the MOU, additional researchers and institutions have into agreement with ICST.  Additional collaborators include: Dr. Larissa Tarskaia (Institute of Medical Genetics, Moscow), Dr. Antonio Arnaiz Villena (Compultense University of Madrid), Dr. Kim Kimminau (Department of Family Medicine, Kansas University Medical Center),  Phil Griffin (Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Tuberculosis Control Program ), and University of Texas-El Paso.

The purposes of this consortium (ICST) include:

  • The initiation of a multi-disciplinary research program on tuberculosis, its distribution, causes and diagnosis.
  • The establishment of a clearing house on tuberculosis research, making the results of current investigations available through an internet web site.
  • The coordination of an international and multi-disciplinary research program on several topics: the development of inexpensive, and rapid molecular methods of diagnosis of strains of the Mycobacterium; identification of specific strain of the bacterium entering the United States in undocumented workers; and examination of the interaction of genetic factors (in both host and organism) with environmental factors, such as: work conditions, housing, nutritional intake,  and smoking habits. (
  • The organization of international symposia and workshops to educate researchers and health care workers

Why Study Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a deadly and ancient disease that can be traced to pre-dynastic Egypt, mummies of pre-Columbian Peru and ancient Greece. Casualties of TB include western cultural luminaries: Anton ChekovFrederick ChopinRobert Louis StevensonGeorge OrwellCharlotte and Emily Bronte and Elanor Roosevelt
Tuberculosis is one of the deadliest contagions in the world, and currently is spreading at a rapid rate. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that worldwide there are nine million new TB cases per year. Tuberculosis kills approximately 1.5 million people annually making it the second-most cause of death from infectious disease, only surpassed by HIV/AIDS.  A total of 2 billion persons (i.e. 1 in 3 individuals worldwide) are infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis.  This health problem is further exacerbated by an increase in the rates of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) with 50 million persons infected with drug resistant strains—resulting in 110,000 deaths/year.  In the United States, 80% of  MDR-TB cases were among foreign-born, with almost 3,000 cases in 2005-6, coming across the Mexican border.

Source: WHO, 2007. Global Tuberculosis Control: Surveillance, Planning, Financing

Recent tuberculosis re-emergence has brought attention to global public health by the reporting and estimating numbers of cases and deaths. As a result of socio-economical crisis in Russia in 1990s, the tuberculosis notification reached new heights, the case notification rates tripled when compared to the 1960s. In 2005, Russia has the eleventh highest tuberculosis burden in the world in terms of the total estimated number of new cases (2005). Participation and collaboration in programs, study of TB strains variation and recommendations based directly on new treatments, and strategies will help to reduce the tuberculosis burden and bring success to the treatment of TB in Russia.

This collaboration of various research institutions and universities on the genetic susceptibility to tuberculosis, will focus inter- and multi-disciplinary expertise on a highly significant health problem.  The consortium (consisting of physicians, geneticists, biological and social anthropologists, microbiologists and epidemiologists), is examining the interaction of host genetics, strains of the Mycobacterium, and risk factors of the environment in Mexican, Siberian, Peruvian, Indian and African populations.  This initial research will be followed by the mapping of specific genes involved in susceptibility in families and in association studies of SNPs in samples of individuals with clinical TB compared to controls. Technological developments in molecular genetics has provided us with unique tools for disentangling the gene-environment interactions of a complex disease—tuberculosis.

Quick Links







Quick Links
  • A contagious airborne disease
  • One third of the world's population are carriers
  • Only 5-10% of individuals infected become sick or infectious
  • 50 Million people are infected with multiple drug reistrant strains of TB
  • 80% of U.S. cases are foreign born
Last Newsletter