Shabaana A. Khader, PhD

Associate Professor of Molecular Microbiology

Washington University in St. Louis (WU)

Approximately one-third of the world’s population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), the pathogen that causes the infectious disease tuberculosis (TB). Every year almost 8.6 million new cases of this infectious disease are recorded, resulting in around 1.3 million people dying of TB, equaling one death every 24 seconds. It is estimated that 10% of infected individuals will progress to exhibit clinical disease, a form called pulmonary TB (PTB). The risk of developing TB is 10-20 times greater in people infected with HIV, resulting in TB being the biggest killer in HIV/AIDS patients. Global efforts to combat TB are hampered by the emergence of extremely drug-resistant (XDR) and multi drug-resistant (MDR) strains of Mtb and the variable efficacy of the currently available vaccine, M.bovis BCG. Unfortunately, the immune mechanisms that govern progression from latent to PTB remain poorly defined, preventing rational design of treatments or vaccines that may promote the immune control of TB. In addition, although significant progress has been made in identifying protective Mtb antigen candidates, our poor understanding of how immune responses mediate protection in the lung remains a major hurdle to successful vaccine design.

The major goal of the Khader Lab is to define the basic requirements for induction of protective immunity in the lung that will result in improved vaccines, therapies and treatment for TB.

Work in the Khader Lab is focused on three major areas of research interests:

1. Targeting the cytokine Interleukin-17 to generate vaccine responses against TB
2. Studying the role of inducible Bronchus Associated Lymphoid tissue (iBALT) in TB
3. Host pathogen interactions of non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections