Spring 2019

A Team Effort

The Aldridge Lab at Tufts School of Medicine is helping revolutionize the understanding and treatment of tuberculosis.

By Shannon Fischer

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Bree Aldridge (center) with members of her laboratory. Photo: Anna Miller

In a Biosafety Level-3 laboratory on Tufts’ health sciences campus, School of Medicine Assistant Professor of Molecular Biology and Microbiology Bree Aldridge studies tuberculosis. Such investigation is crucial: Besides being among the world’s most prolific and difficult-to-treat killers, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, can’t be easily studied with traditional microbiology. Even more than a century after its discovery, remarkably little is known about the microbe’s most basic properties, including its behavior, growth, and life cycle.

But Aldridge is no traditional microbiologist—she’s a bioengineer by training, with talents for intense computational modeling and mathematics that have already helped her break at least one new paradigm in the TB field. And now, with an interdisciplinary team of engineers-turned-biologists and biologists newly trained in heavy computation, she has joined the vanguard in a new era of tuberculosis research, where her contributions could revolutionize how this deadly disease is understood and treated.

Two years ago, Aldridge came out with what others in the field call her most important work yet: A mathematical model dubbed DiaMOND (“Diagonal Measurement Of N-way Drug interactions”) that measures how multiple TB drugs act in combination. She has expanded this effort to create new drug combinations for preclinical testing with the help of a nearly $1.3 million grant awarded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation last March.

To read more, visit go.tufts.edu/AldridgeLab.

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