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Associate Members

Associate Professor Digby Warner BCom BScHons PhD(WITS)

MRC/NHLS/UCT Molecular Mycobacteriology Research Unit (MMRU) constituting the UCT node of the DST/NRF Centre of Excellence for Biomedical TB Research (CBTBR)

Digby Warner

Division of Medical Microbiology, Department of Pathology

Associate Member, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM), Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town

Research in the MMRU is focused on aspects of mycobacterial physiology and metabolism that are of relevance to drug discovery and drug resistance, and the Unit is best known for its work on mechanisms of DNA metabolism, resuscitation and culturability, respiration and cofactor biosynthesis in mycobacteria.

To this end, the MMRU has developed specific expertise in mycobacterial molecular genetics and applied these skills in the construction of a large panel (>150) of targeted mutant strains of M. tuberculosis H37Rv and M. smegmatis. As a Unit that receives funding through two major grants from the South African government, research capacity development forms a key focus of the laboratory's work.

The Unit, which currently comprises senior scientists, post-doctoral fellows, and PhD and MSc students, participates in several major TB drug discovery consortia funded by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation under the TB Drug Accelerator programme, and the Strategic Health Innovation Partnerships (SHIP) initiative of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC). In addition, the MMRU is involved in elucidating the mycobacterial factors which drive TB transmission through grants from the SAMRC Flagship programme, as well as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Fundamental research in mycobacterial physiology and metabolism is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) USA, as well as the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa.

KEY EXPERTISE: Mycobacterial physiology, in particular the mechanisms and regulation of DNA repair and replication in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and their role in the emergence of drug resistance, the physiological consequences of drug resistance, and the role of vitamin B12 and related co-factors in mycobacterial pathogenesis.


Selected publications:

Wood R, Morrow C, Barry CE 3rd, Bryden WA, Call CJ, Hickey AJ, Rodes CE, Scriba TJ, Blackburn J, Issarow C, Mulder N, Woodward J, Moosa A, Singh V, Mizrahi V, Warner DF. (2016) Real-time investigation of tuberculosis transmission: developing the respiratory aerosol sampling chamber (RASC). PLOS ONE 11:e0146658. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0146658.

Warner DF, Mizrahi V. (2014) Translation of genomics research into control of tuberculosis: lessons learned and future prospects. Genome Biol. doi:10.1186/s13059-014-0514-z

Warner DF, Koch A, Mizrahi V. (2014) Diversity and disease pathogenesis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Trends Microbiol. doi:10.1016/j.tim.2014.10.005

Warner DF. (2014) Mycobacterium tuberculosis metabolism. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a021121

Koch A.S., Mizrahi V., Warner D.F. (2013) The impact of drug resistance on Mycobacterium tuberculosis physiology: what can we learn from rifampicin? Emerg Microb Infect. doi:10.1038/emi.2014.17

Gopinath K., Venclovas Č., Ioerger T.R., Sacchettini J.C., McKinney J.D., Mizrahi V., Warner D.F. (2013) A vitamin B12 transporter in Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Open Biol. 3:120175.


Contact details:

Room 3.03.3, Wolfson Pavilion
Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine
UCT Faculty of Health Sciences
Anzio Road, Observatory 7925
South Africa

Tel:  +27 21 406 6556
Fax: +27 21 406 6738


Alternate sites:


Group members:

Dr Saber Anoosheh, Post-doctoral fellow

Dr Gabriel Mashabela, Post-doctoral fellow

Dr Atica Moosa, Post-doctoral fellow

Dr Elizabeth Olsen, Post-doctoral fellow

Mr Simon Broadley, PhD (Med Biochem) student (co-supervisor)

Ms Irene Gobe, PhD (Medical Microbiology) student

Mr Terry Kipkorir, PhD (Medical Microbiology) student

Ms Zela Martin, PhD (Medical Microbiology) student

Ms Bianca Masuku, PhD (Medical Microbiology) student

Mr Charles Omollo, PhD (Chemistry) student (co-supervisor)

Mr Michael Reiche, PhD (Medical Microbiology) student

Ms Sophia van Coller, PhD (Medical Microbiology) student

Ms Antonina Wasuna, PhD (Chem)Science (co-supervisor)

Mr Ryan Dinkele, MSc(Med) Medical Microbiology student

Mr Rendani Mbau, MSc(Med) Medical Microbiology student

Ms Bevika Sewgoolam, MSc(Med) Medical Microbiology student

Mr Lloyd Tanner, MSc (Pharmacology) student (co-supervisor)

Dr Chad Centner, MMed Medical Microbiology student



Prof. Clifton E. Barry III & Dr. Helena Boshoff, NIAID, NIH, USA

Prof. Kelly Chibale, IDM, UCT, South Africa

Prof. John D. McKinney, EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland

Prof. David Russell, Cornell University, USA

Dr. Simon Teague, King’s College London, UK

Prof. Česlovas Venclovas, Institute of Biotechnology, Vilnius University, Lithuania

Dr. Lubbe Wiesner, Clinical Pharmacology, UCT

Dr. Roger Woodgate, NICHD, NIH, USA