Professor, Dept. of Microbiology & Immunology
Professor, Dept. of Genetics
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Having developed novel genetic approaches to make mutations and transfer genes in M. tuberculosis, Dr. Jacobs has identified drug targets and novel virulence factors of M. tuberculosis, many of which are enzymes or products of complex lipid metabolism. Dr. Jacobs, in collaboration with Drs. Neel Gandhi and Sarita Shah, is working with South African researchers and clinicians to train and educate South African students.
A groundbreaking partnership between the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) and the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in South Africa will establish an international research center focused on making major scientific contributions to the worldwide effort to control the devastating co-epidemic of tuberculosis (TB) and HIV and on training a new generation of scientists in Africa. HHMI, a non-profit medical research organization that ranks as one of the nation's largest philanthropies, has committed $60 million to the initiative over the next 10 years.
Dr. Jacobs, an HHMI investigator and professor of microbiology & immunology, and of genetics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, will be one of two leading HHMI investigators actively engaged in KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV (K-RITH). There are approximately 350 HHMI investigators, a group that includes 13 Nobel Prize winners and 124 members of the National Academy of Sciences.
The institute will be located on the campus of the Nelson R. Mandela School of Medicine in Durban in a six-story facility that will include two floors of high-level biosafety (BSL-3) laboratories equipped for TB research. HHMI will provide $20 million (R218 million) toward the construction of the new building with UKZN and LIFE Lab, a biotechnology center of the government of South Africa, making substantial commitments for the project. The total cost of the project — which will be integrated with the existing Doris Duke Medical Research Institute — is estimated at about $30 million (R308 million). Construction is expected to begin in late September.