World TB Day 2013 - Champion Biographies

A young boy sits near his mother
Laura Salvinelli / World Health Organization (WHO)

Major innovations in TB treatment and intervention are on the horizon that will reduce suffering and save money. In the past year, the fight against TB has accelerated thanks to bold leadership. USAID Administrator Dr. Raj Shah and World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim are honoring the following champions in the global fight against TB:

Senator Sherrod Brown

Elected to the Senate in 2006, Senator Sherrod Brown has fortified his reputation upon his propensity for forward-thinking and a willingness to garner bipartisan support for even the most challenging issues facing the United States. Among the issues he champions in Congress, Senator Brown has been a sentinel supporter in the fight against tuberculosis (TB) by raising political awareness of the far-reaching effects of tuberculosis and the immediate repercussions for the health of all countries, including the United States.

In particular, Senator Brown realizes the immediacy of recent outbreaks of MDR-TB and XDR-TB and senses that we are at a crossroads for tuberculosis control. As such, he introduced the first piece of TB legislation in the U.S. Congress and has subsequently sought to strengthen the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, so the United States can assemble a more appropriate response to global threats like tuberculosis.

His efforts to protect the United States from emerging infectious disease threats earned Senator Brown the National Public Health Legislator of the Year Award from the American Public Health Association in 2003.

Representative Eliot Engel

Congressman Engel is the Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He also serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee, including the Subcommittee on Health and the Subcommittee on Energy and Power.

Rep. Engel has also been a leader in global health, promoting an improved reauthorization of the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Within the PEPFAR bill (P.L. 110-293), Rep. Engel successfully included his bill, the Stop Tuberculosis Now Act. He is also a founding co-chair of the Tuberculosis Elimination Caucus.

Congressman Engel was born in the Bronx on February 18, 1947. He grew up in a city housing project and attended New York City public schools. In 1969, he graduated from Hunter-Lehman College with a B.A. in history and received a master's degree in Guidance and Counseling in 1973 from Herbert H. Lehman College of the City University of New York. In 1987, he received a law degree from New York Law School.

For 12 years prior to his election to Congress, Mr. Engel served in the New York State Assembly (1977-1988). Prior to that, he was a teacher and guidance counselor in the New York City public school system.

Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia

Indonesia is a leader in the fight against TB. The country has made great progress in the fight against the disease, having met the Stop TB Partnership's and Millennium Development Goal's TB targets. The Ministry of Health has demonstrated tremendous leadership in introducing new diagnostic technologies such as GeneXpert, and is constructively advancing partnerships with the private sector and other service providers. The GeneXpert technology is now operating in sites across Indonesia, with new sites expected to open in the next year. This advancement has made a tremendous difference in improving the access of patients to diagnosis of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). At the same time, the Ministry of Health has made certain that capacity to provide MDR-TB treatment is in place wherever the GeneXpert diagnosis sites are open, ensuring access to treatment soon after diagnosis is confirmed. It has also actively engaged private sector providers and moved forward quickly on implementing the International Standards of Care. This has established a firm foundation for ensuring that all patients have access to high-quality TB treatment. The National TB Program has developed excellent partnerships with civil society and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working at the community level, recognizing that community-based NGOs are powerful partners in supporting patients through the course of treatment and in increasing the proportion of patients rapidly diagnosed and started on treatment.

Treatment Action Group

The Treatment Action Group (TAG) is an independent AIDS research and policy think tank fighting for better treatments, a vaccine, and a cure for AIDS. TAG works to ensure that all people with HIV receive lifesaving treatment, care, and information. TAG is comprised of science-based treatment activists working to expand and accelerate vital research and effective community engagement with research and policy institutions. TAG catalyzes open collective action by all affected communities, scientists, and policymakers to end AIDS and advocate for zero TB deaths. TAG's TB R&D report is considered the leading reference source for measuring the world's progress in TB research investments.

Xpert MTB/RIF "Discovery" Team

The Xpert MTB/RIF assay is a fully automated molecular diagnostic test for TB. It can simultaneously detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) complex DNA and mutations associated with rifampicin (RIF) resistance (a reliable proxy for MDR-TB) directly from sputum specimens in fewer than 2 hours, and it minimizes staff manipulation and biosafety risk. This significantly improves the likelihood of timely treatment initiation as well as protects health care providers.

This unique public-private partnership of Cepheid, Inc.; the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND); and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), with additional support from the National Institutes of Health, led to the successful discovery of the assay and will hopefully serve as a model for future diagnostic innovations.

  • University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey: Dr. David Alland's laboratory at UMDNJ has a proven track record of successfully applying or developing advanced molecular approaches to study infectious diseases. His lab developed the first molecular beacon assay to detect MTB and the related RIF resistance. This unique DNA hybridization assay serves as the basis of the Xpert MTB/RIF test and elegantly detects TB and RIF resistance directly from patient sputum.
  • Cepheid, Inc.: Cepheid developed the GeneXpert System - a closed, self-contained, fully-integrated and automated platform for the molecular analysis of a number of organisms. The system combines on-board sample preparation with real-time PCR amplification and detection for fully integrated and automated nucleic acid analysis. Cepheid helped to develop the Xpert MTB/RIF assay for use in the GeneXpert system so the assay can be done in fewer than 2 hours in peripheral laboratory settings in developing countries.
  • Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics: FIND brings together TB organizations, diagnostic companies, funders, and others to sustain effective partnerships between them. They scouted the landscape for what new TB diagnostics were needed and where. They identified partners and provided necessary financing, working alongside partners to refine the Xpert test and organize the various in-country trials. FIND's negotiations then brought the product price as low as possible to allow the test to be available to the largest possible number of patients.

Last updated: March 19, 2013

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