The Unit of Mycobacteriology, led by Prof Bouke De Jong, is dedicated to improving the health of patients suffering from mycobacterial diseases such as tuberculosis, leprosy, and Buruli ulcer. We provide diagnostic services for individual patients and challenge current control approaches, aiming at better understanding of mycobacterial diseases and improving patient outcome.
Our research lines include fundamental pathobiology, pathogen evolution and operational questions, including projects on drug resistance mechanisms, transmission, diagnostics and treatment of mycobacterial diseases. Besides research, we provide ISO15189 accredited diagnostic services, including isolation and identification of mycobacteria as well as phenotypic and genotypic determination of drug resistance. Our diagnostic services support clinical laboratories nationally and internationally, in addition to control programs, NGO projects, and clinical trials.
As WHO Supranational Reference Laboratory for tuberculosis, we support numerous National TB Reference Laboratories in endemic countries, and organize annual proficiency testing panels for drug susceptibility testing. In the context of clinical trial support we also supervise and strengthen site laboratories in other countries towards quality improvements following Good Clinical Laboratory Practice.
The Unit has one of the largest and most diverse collections of well documented mycobacterial strains worldwide, characterized by phenotypic and/or genotypic tests. A subset, comprising strains from human, animal and environmental origin from all continents spanning from 1960 to date, is made available to the broader scientific community and industry through the BCCM/ITM public collection of mycobacterial strains. Building on the research lines, the BCCM/ITM collection has an emphasis on M. tuberculosis complex and M. ulcerans, with over 800 isolates from a wide range of endemic countries, besides fastidious non-tuberculous mycobacteria like M. genavense, M. haemophilum and M. lepraemurium. This public collection also hosts 8000 clones of M. bovis BCG with distinct mutations.
Besides supervising students at different levels (bachelor, master and PhD), formal teaching activities include lectures on mycobacterial diseases and molecular epidemiology at ITM and the University of Antwerp. We co-organise the annual course on Clinical Decision-Making for Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis (DR TB).
Please do not hesitate to email us for more information.