Dr. Vanaja Kumar, Ph.D. Dr. Vanaja Kumar  
Deputy Director (Senior Grade)
Tuberculosis Research Centre (Indian Council of Medical Research)
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Dr. Kumar visited the Einstein AITRP in 2001 to initiate the collaborative work on developing new luciferase reporter phage constructs from mycobacteriophages in Dr. William R. Jacob Jr.'s laboratory. BxZ1 was isolated from Bronx Zoo soil that was later sequenced completely in Dr. Graham Hatful's laboratory in Pittsburg, USA. Chennai phages Che3, Che6, Che9, Che12 were also sequenced in the same laboratory. Molecular confirmation of the temperate nature of Che12 that is capable of infecting M. tuberculosis was done by Southern hybridization and PCR. One post doctoral fellow and three graduate students (one received his PhD degree and another has submitted her PhD thesis for evaluation) visited Dr. Jacob's laboratory and Dr. John Chan's laboratory in AECOM to develop both Luciferase Reproter Phages (LRP) and BluePhage constructs from TM4 and Che12 phages using hsp60, icl and acr promoters.

Dr. Vanaja Kumar is collaborating with 7 other laboratories in India to develop a TB database, of which the details of mycobacteriophage database forms a major part. This venture is funded by the Department of Biotechnology, New Delhi. Her expertise has been utilized as mycobacteriologist in developing an ACTG (A5253) protocol titled "Sensitivity and specificity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis screening and diagnostics in HIV infected individuals". Two jointly authored publications have resulted from this collaboration with the Einstein AITRP.

Dr. Kumar participated in both Einstein AITRP's in-country workshops conducted in 2004 and in 2007. In addition to giving lectures, she also provided on hand training to participants on LRP assay and phagebiotics.

Trainees who visited Einstein AITRP for training from Dr. Kumar's laboratory:
  1. K. Jayashankar, Post doctoral fellow - 2002 (Dr. Jacobs' laboratory)
  2. L. Prabhakaran, Graduate student - 2002 (Dr. Jacobs' laboratory)
  3. N. S. Gomathi, Graduate student - 2004 (Dr. Jacobs' laboratory)
  4. V. N. Azger Dustackeer, Graduate student - 2005 (Dr. Chan's laboratory)
Publications through AITRP-supported collaboration
  1. Azger Dusthackeer, Vanaja Kumar, Selvakumar Subbian, Gomathi Sivaramakrishnan, Guofang Zhu, Balaji Subramanyam, Sameer Hassan, Selvakumar Nagamaiah, John Chan and Narayanan Paranji Rama. Construction and evaluation of luciferase reporter phages for the detection of active and non replicating bacilli. J Microbiological Methods 2008. 73: 18–25. (Impact Factor: 2.297)
  2. Vanaja Kumar, Prabakaran Loganathan, Gomathi Sivaramakrishnan, Jordan Kriakov, Azger Dusthakeer, Balaji Subramanyam, John Chan, William R. Jacobs Jr., Narayanan Paranji Rama. Characterization of temperate phage Che12: construction of a new tool for diagnosis of tuberculosis. Tuberculosis 2008. 88: 616-623. (Impact Factor: 3.425)

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