Tuberculosis Research

The Tuberculosis Research Unit focuses on the cause and consequence of genetic diversity in Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the bacterium that causes human tuberculosis (TB). Our basic research consists of two complementary arms: One macro-evolutionary arm focuses on the global diversity of Mtb, the evolutionary forces that drive this diversity, and the phenotypic consequences of this diversity. The second, micro-evolutionary arm studies the evolution and ecology of drug resistance in Mtb.

In addition, the Tuberculosis Research Unit is conducting clinical and epidemiological  research, as well as clinical trials of new TB diagnostics, drugs and vaccines in close partnership with TB research at the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania and the National Centre of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Our research is mainly supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the European Research Council (ERC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and SystemsX.

Selected publications


Borrell S, Teo Y, Giardina F, Streicher E, Klopper M, Feldmann J, Müller B, Victor T, Gagneux S. (2013). Epistasis between antibiotic resistance mutations drives the evolution of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis. Evolution, Medicine and Public Health 2013 eot003 65-74. doi:10.1093/emph/eot003.

Comas I, Coscolla M, Luo T, Borrell S, Holt K, Kato-Maeda M, Parkhill J, Malla B,  Berg S, Thwaites G, Yeboah-Manu D, Bothamley G, Mei J, Wei L, Bentley S, Harris S, Niemann S, Diel R, Aseffa A, Gao Q, Young D, Gagneux S. (2013). Out-of-Africa migration and Neolithic co-expansion of Mycobacterium tuberculosis with modern humans. Nat Genet 2013 45: 1176-82. doi:10.1038/ng.2744.


Comas I, Borrell S, Roetzer A, Rose G, Malla B, Kato-Maeda M, Galagan J, Niemann S, Gagneux S (2012). Whole-genome sequencing of rifampicin-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains identifies compensatory mutations in RNA polymerase genes. Nat Genet. 44, 106-110. doi:10.1038/ng.1038 ; PM:22179134


Comas I, Chakravartti Js Small PM, Galagan J, Niemann S, Kremer K, Ernst JD, and Gagneux, S (2010). Human T cell epitopes of Mycobacterium tuberculosis are evolutionarily hyperconserved. Nat Genet 42, 498-503 PM:20495566

Hershberg R, Lipatov M, Small PM, Sheffer H, Niemann S, Homolka S, Roach JC, Kremer K, Petrov DA, Feldman MW, and Gagneux, S (2008). High functional diversity in Mycobacterium tuberculosis driven by genetic drift and human demography. PLoS Biology 6, 2658-2671 PM:19090620