New Zealand PhD student receives $250,000 TB research scholarship

A New Zealand tuberculosis researcher recently received a $250,000 scholarship to study why some people who are exposed to the highly contagious pathogen never become infected.

Dr. Ayesha Verrall, who received her M.D. at New Zealand's University of Otago, will be granted the funding over three years by the Health Research Council of New Zealand through a clinical training fellowship to support her graduate work on TB, according to

Verrall said that she was elated to receive the money because of the importance of the research, although she said it was a long shot to apply when her work would be conducted between New Zealand and Indonesia.

Statistics show that while many people who are heavily exposed to TB become infected with the latent form of the disease, only apprroximately 10 percent of them will develop the active form later in life. An even smaller group will not become infected at all. Verrall said that she hopes to explore the genetic pathways of those who have an innate immunity to the illness, reports.

The Indonesian portion of her work will be conducted in Bandung, the provincial capital of Java. It will be part of an international collaboration with the University of Padjadjaran.

Verrall left New Zealand in 2010 in order to study tropical medicine in Singapore for more than a year. She then spent several months in Peru with support of the Federation of Graduate Women. She has been in New York State for much of the past year studying bioethics.