Looking to the future of TB research

Blog 23 Mar 2023

Dr Mohammed Yassin is Senior Advisor for Tuberculosis at the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, and sits on the External Consortium Advisory Group for the Liverpool-based, Light Programme.

“I am originally from Ethiopia, and I studied and worked at LSTM before moving to Geneva in 2010. I came to LSTM to do my masters in tropical medicine and infection disease in 1999 and completed my studies in 2000 with distinction. 

Luis Cuevas was director of the course and taught me epidemiology. I went back to Ethiopia to manage the TB programme but continued collaborating with Luis including hosting/co-supervising other postgraduate students from LSTM. Luis used to visit my place regularly and in 2003 I re-joined LSTM as Research Fellow and continued working closely with him on several projects until December 2022.

Most of our joint work was on finding simple and innovative ways to diagnose and treat TB, especially in low- and middle-income countries. I now mentor co-workers who are new to my team/organization and to TB. I believe new and junior staff benefit from mentorship and being shown how to navigate in new and different settings and working environments. I am happy to share my extensive experience with others and enjoy seeing people coping well and succeeding. I benefited a lot from Luis’s mentorship and contributed to his successful career by bringing my experience in the field to our joint research and implementation projects.

TB research and development is still not prioritised and fully funded. We are still using old technologies and tools to diagnose and treat TB, which is a major infectious disease killer. Today, we don’t have a point-of-care diagnostics for TB and patients must take several medicines for months; we need shorter treatments for TB infection and a new vaccine if we are to end TB in 2030. There’s a lot we can learn from the COVID-19 response, and commitment to end TB should be reinvigorated, with more resources made available.  

I hope we find simpler, cheaper tools to diagnose, treat, and prevent TB. This requires more investment in TB research and development, accelerated implementation and better use of the tools and technologies we currently have available. We all breath the same air and could be at risk of TB. We need to engage everybody: the public; private networks; and local communities, if we are to end TB forever.”

Dr Yassin contributed to LSTM’s Connecting Citizens to Science series of podcasts, talking about how lessons from the Covid 19 response can be applied to combatting TB. You can listen here to: part one and part two of the episode of these podcasts.