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Gates Foundation Funds Tanya Parish’s Tuberculosis Drug Discovery Research

Dr. Tanya Parish

Sept. 29, 2023 – Kudos to Dr. Tanya Parish, a microbiologist and principal investigator in Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s  Center for Global Infectious Disease Research, for her three-year, nearly $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The funding enables Parish and her team to continue their work in discovering new drugs to treat tuberculosis (TB).

TB is an infectious disease that most often affects the lungs and is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It spreads through the air when infected people cough, sneeze or spit. While TB is curable, a total of 1.6 million people died from TB in 2021, and it is the the leading infectious killer, according to the World Health Organization. Multidrug-resistant TB is a public health crisis. An estimated 74 million lives were saved through TB diagnosis and treatment between 2000 and 2021.

Over the last decade, the Parish Lab has played a pivotal role in the work of the TB Drug Accelerator (TBDA), a consortium of pharmaceutical companies, universities, research institutes and the TB Alliance, coordinated by the Gates Foundation.

Current TB therapies take six months to cure patients, leading to increased transmission and drug resistance. The TBDA aims to discover and develop TB drug candidates to support affordable, safer and simpler universal drug regimens that can achieve rapid and durable cures regardless of pre-existing drug resistance. So far, the consortium has identified seven new TB drug candidates that have been, or are being, tested in clinical trials.

“This grant will enable us to continue our work within the TBDA, where we provide microbiological expertise and support to all partners,” said Parish, who is also a professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. “We will evaluate multiple chemical agents for their potential as drug candidates in a new drug regimen for tuberculosis. In addition, we will continue our work to understand how these new agents kill bacteria and how the bacteria develop resistance.”

— Colleen Steelquist