Campus News

Infectious disease specialist one of six in U.S. to receive FDA funding for TB research

Fred Quinn

A world-renowned tuberculosis researcher based at the College of Veterinary Medicine is one of six U.S. researchers to receive part of a $2.9 million award from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The award is part of an initiative to support research projects that will help with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of TB.

Frederick D. Quinn, who heads the college’s department of infectious diseases, will receive $742,498 over two years to develop a diagnostic test for latent tuberculosis. He also is a member of UGA’s Faculty of Infectious Diseases.

“There are potentially 2 billion cases of latent tuberculosis in the world,” said Quinn. “Currently there is no way to accurately identify people who are latently infected and thus no way to be sure how to effectively treat the disease.”

There are about 14 million active cases of TB worldwide, presenting the traditional clinical signs including chronic cough with blood-tinged sputum, fever, night sweats and weight loss. However, most TB infections are latent, meaning the person infected shows no overt clinical signs.

With latent infections, the bacteria have learned how to hide out in the body and survive in relatively small numbers for years, decades or a lifetime, until the immune system is compromised due to issues such as aging, AIDS or use of immunosuppressive drugs for immune disorders, like rheumatoid arthritis, and organ transplants.

“The work Dr. Quinn and his collaborators are doing is vital to effectively treating, and hopefully one day eradicating, this debilitating disease,” said Sheila W. Allen, dean of the college.

Quinn joined the college as head of the department of infectious diseases in 2001 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He was recently appointed the college’s first Athletic Association Professor of Infectious Disease.