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Dr Htin Lin Aung awarded major fellowship for TB research

1 November 2017

University of Otago microbiology and immunology researcher Dr Htin Lin Aung has been awarded a $500,000 Sir Charles Hercus Health Research Fellowship by the Health Research Council (HRC) that will enable him to continue his work combatting tuberculosis (TB) at local and international frontlines.

Dr Aung, who is an Affiliate Investigator with the Maurice Wilkins Centre and also trained as a Maurice Wilkins Centre-supported PhD student at Otagowas understandably elated at the news.

"I am humbled and honoured to receive this prestigious Fellowship,” says Dr Aung.

“I would like to thank my longstanding mentor, Professor Gregory Cook, the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, the School of Biomedical Sciences, the University of Otago, and the Maurice Wilkins Centre for their support. I would also like to thank my national and international collaborators for their contribution. I am very grateful to the HRC for the funding that will allow me to conduct translational research that will contribute to combatting tuberculosis both at home and abroad.”

Htin Aung Fellowship Photo Formatted2

TB researcher Dr Htin Lin Aung, Maurice Wilkins Centre Affiliate Investigator at the University of Otago. 

Otago research aims to reduce emergence, spread of TB

Dr Aung's team employs next-generation sequencing technology in order to understand the transmission of TB and drug-resistant TB (DR-TB). This they hope will lead to the development of rapid molecular diagnostic tools for reducing the emergence and spread of DR-TB.

TB is caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Despite being a curable disease, it claims over 1.5 million lives per year globally and the rising the prevalence of DR-TB worldwide is a major concern.

In New Zealand, 78% of people with TB were born outside the country. Given the increased frequency of air travel and immigration from countries determined by the World Health Organisation as high risk for TB and DR-TB, tackling the disease internationally is therefore important in the fight against TB nationally.

“To expedite progress to combat TB, we need strong political commitment and multi-sectoral action. The most exciting next steps will be working together with key stakeholders to translate evidence resulting from this research into policy and practice,” says Dr Aung.