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ISMB Mycobacteria Research Laboratory

Academic Head: Dr Sanjib Bhakta,  Reader in Molecular Microbiology

Research focus

The Laboratory is engaged in the discovery and validation of novel targets of Mycobacterium tuberculosis that may be exploited for developing novel chemical entities to fulfill the chemotherapeutic need. Our main interest involves the study of proteins performing essential functions in mycobacterial peptidoglycan biosynthesis and recycling.
We are also interested in establishing in vitro/ ex vivo models for testing growth inhibitors at different physiological states of the pathogen [example 1, example 2]. Several interesting small molecule hits have been discovered [example 1, example 2, example 3, example 4] and they constitute scaffolds for generating more potent anti-tubercular leads.

Equipment and methods

We grow, maintain and investigate both fast and slow growing mycobacterial species and their mutants in our specialized mycobacteria-only safety containment level 1 and 2 GM laboratories.

State of the art facilities include:

  • safety laminar air flow cabinets
  • standing, shaking, rolling mycobacterial culture incubators
  • gel documentation unit,
  • refrigerated centrifuges, micro-centrifuges
  • CO2 cell culture incubator
  • stereo, compound, inverted microscopes with digital photography units and a networked computer
  • 40C, -200C, -80ºC fridge-freezers
  • Ribolyser
  • PCR machines
  • digital electro-transformation units.

Collaborations and research funding

An inter-disciplinary approach is required for the lab to achieve its goals, therefore we collaborate extensively with scientists from the UK and around the world. We work closely with ISMB Chemistry Labs, ISMB Biophysics Unit and the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory for biochemical, biophysical characterization of mycobacterial proteins and protein crystallography respectively.

We access Containment Level 3/4 facilities at the Royal Free Hospital, UCL, through an academic research contract between UCL and Birkbeck. We represent a core member of Tuberculosis Drug Discovery Consortium, UK  and are an affiliated member of the Centre for Infection, Immunity and Infection, Brunel University

Our research is externally supported by Medical Research Council, UK, Wellcome Trust, UK and Austrian Science Fund, EU.

Find out more about the joint TB Drug Discovery Facility: Mycobacteria Research Laboratory for Screening Drugs and Inhibitors