Scientific Challenges

Estimated incidence per 100,000 population (2008)
Source: World Health Organization
Confirmed multi-drug resistant TB cases (2008)
Source: World Health Organization
Estimated incidence (2007)
Source: World Health Organization
Estimated TB cases who are HIV-positive(2008)
Source: World Health Organization
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Using the tools of basic science, the KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for Tuberculosis and HIV seeks new approaches to fighting these deadly diseases.

Scientific Opportunities

The Sigal, Pym, Ndung'u and Balagadde labs are looking for outstanding, innovative post doctoral research fellows.


The Sigal lab is looking for outstanding Masters students with a background in biology, microbiology, biochemistry, virology, or engineering.



Biological differences between the sexes and susceptibility to tuberculosis. - J Infect Dis. 2014 Jul 15;209 Suppl 3:S100-6. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiu147.
HIV transmission. Selection bias at the heterosexual HIV-1 transmission bottleneck - Science. 2014 Jul 11;345(6193):1254031. doi: 10.1126/science.1254031. Epub 2014 Jul 10.
Effect of Female Genital Schistosomiasis and Anti-Schistosomal Treatment on Monocytes, CD4+ T-Cells and CCR5 in the Female Genital Tract. - PLoS One 2014 Jun 4;9(6):e98593. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0098593. eCollection 2014. PMID 24896815.
HIV Subtype Influences HLA-B*07:02-Associated HIV Disease Outcome. - AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2014 May;30(5):468-75. doi: 10.1089/AID.2013.0197. Epub 2013 Oct 4.
TRIM5α and TRIM22 are differentially regulated according to HIV-1 infection phase and compartment. - J Virol. 2014 Apr;88(8):4291-303. doi: 10.1128/JVI.03603-13. Epub 2014 Jan 29.
Regulatory T cells expanded from HIV-1-infected individuals maintain phenotype, TCR repertoire and suppressive capacity. - PLoS One. 2014 Feb 3;9(2):e86920. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0086920. eCollection 2014.
Neutrophil counts in persons of African origin. - Curr Opin Hematol. 2014 Jan;21(1):50-7. doi: 10.1097/MOH.0000000000000007.
Low levels of peripheral CD161++CD8+ Mucosal Associated Invariant T (MAIT) cells are found in HIV and HIV/TB co-infection - PLos ONE, 2013 Dec 31; 8(12):e83474. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083474. (PMID: 234391773)
Diagnostic accuracy of quantitative PCR (Xpert MTB/RIF) for tuberculous meningitis in a high burden setting: a prospective study. - PLoS Med. 2013 Oct;10(10):e1001536. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001536. Epub 2013 Oct 22
Ability of HIV-1 Nef to downregulate CD4 and HLA class I differs among viral subtypes. - Retrovirology. 2013 Sep 16;10:100. doi: 10.1186/1742-4690-10-100.
Nef-specific CD8+ T cell responses contribute to HIV-1 immune control. - PLoS One. 2013 Sep 2;8(9):e73117. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073117. eCollection 2013
Nef-specific CD8+ T cell responses contribute to HIV-1 immune control. - PLoS One. 2013 Sep 2;8(9):e73117. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073117. eCollection 2013.
Clinical and mycological predictors of cryptococcosis-associated immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome. - AIDS. 2013 Aug 24;27(13):2089-99. doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e3283614a8d.
Immunohistological characterization of spinal TB granulomas from HIV-negative and -positive patients. - Tuberculosis (Edinb). 2013 Jul;93(4):432-41. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2013 Mar 28.
Changes in Natural Killer cell activation and function during primary HIV-1 Infection. - PLoS One. 2013;8(1):e53251. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053251. Epub 2013 Jan 9.
The Physiology and genetics of oxidative stress in mycobacteria - In: Molecular Genetics of Mycobacteria. 2nd edition 2013
Characterization of anti-HIV-1 neutralizing and binding antibodies in chronic HIV-1 subtype C infection. - Virology. 2012 Nov 25;433(2):410-20. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2012.08.033. Epub 2012 Sep 18.
Co-operative additive effects between HLA alleles in control of HIV-1. - PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47799. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047799. Epub 2012 Oct 19.
Modeling early bactericidal activity in murine tuberculosis provides insights into the activity of isoniazid and pyrazinamide. - Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Sep 11;109(37):15001-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1203636109. Epub 2012 Aug 27.
Heme oxygenase-1 promotes granuloma development and protects against dissemination of mycobacteria. - Lab Invest. 2012 Nov;92(11):1541-52. doi: 10.1038/labinvest.2012.125. Epub 2012 Sep 10.
Modeling early bactericidal activity in murine tuberculosis provides insights into the activity of isoniazid and pyrazinamide. - Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Sep 11;109(37):15001-5. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1203636109. Epub 2012 Aug 27.
As Good As It Gets? The Problem of HIV Persistence despite Antiretroviral Drugs. - Cell Host Microbe. 2012 Aug 16;12(2):132-8. *Corresponding author.
New drugs for the treatment of tuberculosis: hope and reality. - Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2012 Aug;16(8):1005-14. doi: 10.5588/ijtld.12.0277.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis WhiB4 regulates oxidative stress response to modulate survival and dissemination in vivo. - Mol Microbiol. 2012 Sep;85(6):1148-65. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2012.08165.x. Epub 2012 Jul 26.
Environmental heme-based sensor proteins: implications for understanding bacterial pathogenesis. - Antioxid Redox Signal. 2012 Nov 1;17(9):1232-45. doi: 10.1089/ars.2012.4613. Epub 2012 Jun 13.
Iron sulfur cluster proteins and microbial regulation: implications for understanding tuberculosis. - Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2012 Apr;16(1-2):45-53. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2012.03.004. Epub 2012 Apr 4.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis WhiB3: a novel iron-sulfur cluster protein that regulates redox homeostasis and virulence. - Antioxid Redox Signal. 2012 Apr 1;16(7):687-97. doi: 10.1089/ars.2011.4341.
Reduced antituberculosis drug concentrations in HIV-infected patients who are men or have low weight: implications for international dosing guidelines. - Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2012 Jun;56(6):3232-8. doi: 10.1128/AAC.05526-11. Epub 2012 Mar 12.
Redox homeostasis in mycobacteria: the key to tuberculosis control? - Expert Rev Mol Med. 2011 Dec 16;13:e39. doi: 10.1017/S1462399411002079.
International Spread of MDR TB from Tugela Ferry, South Africa - Emerg Infect Dis. 2011 Nov;17(11):2035-7. doi: 10.3201/eid1711.110291.
In silico children and the glass mouse model - Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2011 Feb
The new role of the microchemostat in the bioengineering revolution - 31st Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society
Intersubtype differences in the effect of a rare p24 gag mutation on HIV-1 replicative fitness. - J Virol. 2012 Dec;86(24):13423-33. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02171-12. Epub 2012 Sep 26.
HIV control through a single nucleotide on the HLA-B locus. - J Virol. 2012 Nov;86(21):11493-500. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01020-12. Epub 2012 Aug 15.
July 17, 2014

The study shows that during HIV heterosexual transmission, when only a few viruses in the infected partner are transmitted, the more fit viruses are preferred.  These findings help to explain how viral fitness affects HIV transmission and suggests that vaccines that weaken the virus could significantly reduce transmission and confer long-term clinical benefits.

July 1, 2014

K-RITH successfully secured its first direct grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) at the end of June 2014 for the support of a project entitled ‘Ongoing HIV replication as a CNS persistence mechanism in the face of cART’.

June 23, 2014

In his presentation, Professor Pillay suggested that South Africa hosts the largest ARV treatment rollout in the world and argued that this places a huge selective pressure on the virus.

June 17, 2014

Scientist-in-Residence Jacques Grosset was amongst a group of K-RITH scientists who presented at the 4th South African TB Conference held recently at the ICC in Durban.  Grosset's talk was entitled 'Dose ranging activity of Clofazamine in murine model of tuberculosis.'

June 2, 2014

K-RITH hosted its third Interactive Biostatistics Course in May this year.  39 scientists participated in the course which was opened up to scientists across Africa for the first time thanks to the generosity of the Gates Foundation, The Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Victor Daitz Information Gateway and the Harvard University Center for AIDS Research (CFAR) who provided funding for travel scholarships and enabled students from Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Botswana and Cameroon to attend the course.

August 29, 2014

Professor Lynn Morris, Chief Specialist Scientist and head of the HIV Virology laboratories within the Centre of HIV & STI’s at NICD will be speaking on 'Prospects for an antibody-based HIV vaccine' at the August K-RITH Seminar.

August 5, 2014

Dr. Shalek will be delivering  a talk on ‘Micro & Nanoscale Strategies for Systems Biology: Lessons From Immune Cells’.

July 29, 2014

Professor of Medicine at Portland Medical Centre, Dr. David Lewinsohn will be delivering  a talk on ‘Pathogen Reactive Human MAITs’.

June 20, 2014

Director for UKZN's Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies, Professor Deenan Pillay will be speaking on 'The biology, transmission and impact of HIV drug resistance' at the June K-RITH Seminar.