Community focus on TB

The optimisation of science and practice relating to tuberculosis (TB) – the world’s oldest and deadliest pandemic – through collaboration, translation research and local solutions is the goal of a new group formed in Melbourne.

The Melbourne TB Community (MTBC) will promote collaboration among researchers, practitioners and community to strengthen local capacity and develop a coordinated and critical mass of research.

Founding committee member, Doherty Institute Principal Research Fellow, Associate Professor Sarah Dunstan said the MTBC aims to capitalise on the breadth of Melbourne’s world-class TB-related expertise.

“The MTBC is open to all involved in TB-related science and practice around Melbourne
spanning research, public health, clinical care and community involvement,” Associate Professor Dunstan said.

Image: MTBC Committee members Associate Professor Justin Denholm (Doherty Institute), Dr Anna Coussens (WEHI), Dr Suman Majumdar (Burnet Institute), Associate Professor Sarah Dunstan (Doherty Institute), Dr Khai Huang (Burnet Institute)

Fellow committee member, Burnet Institute Deputy Program Director for Health Security, Dr Suman Majumdar said: “Melbourne is home to world-class research institutes and the MTBC gives us a new way to connect our work on TB.”

“This includes those in the public health response, laboratories, communication experts and the people affected by TB that we aim to serve.”

MTBC committee member, Dr Anna Coussens, Lab Head at The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI), said the MTBC was inspired in part by the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We realised through COVID how productive and how many solutions can be found to an enormous problem when people work together and share their knowledge from different disciplines and different angles, centred around the local community,” Dr Coussens said.

Image: Burnet International Health and Development Officer Geoff Chan participates in panel discussion at the MTBC launch

“We thought, let’s get together and connect people in Melbourne who work on TB and share our knowledge and expertise from the different walks of life that we have around our work in TB.”

The MTBC was launched with a program of presentations showcasing the diversity of TB research in Melbourne with topics ranging from clinical research and biobanking, to the TB response in Papua New Guinea, to the importance of storytelling in amplifying the devastating impact TB has on communities.

Curable and preventable, TB is caused by a slow-growing bacteria and transmitted from person to person through the air.

According to the latest World Health Organization data, in 2019 a total of 1.4 million people died from TB, and an estimated 10 million people fell ill with TB worldwide.

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