Newswise — DALLAS (August 15, 2017) – Tawanda Gumbo, MD, an investigator at Baylor Scott & White Research Institute and the director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Experimental Therapeutics at Baylor Institute for Immunology Research, has been named to a World Health Organization (WHO) task force on pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of tuberculosis (TB) medicines. The task force was created to address medicinal therapies for TB, including the dosing and drug susceptibility testing of rifampicin, an antibiotic used to treat TB.

The task force is composed of 30 experts in different fields of TB care and prevention, including pharmacology, therapeutics, laboratory science, drug development and regulatory affairs. Members serve two-year terms and advise the WHO on matters related to TB medicines, including research priorities and updates to existing TB treatment and diagnostic policies. The task force will also conduct expert discussions on implementation and give technical advice to national programs to support the implementation policies.

TB is one of the world's deadliest infectious diseases, affecting one-third of the population. It afflicts both children and adults, and can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy. Multidrug-resistant TB has become a global emergency, and extensive drug-resistant TB is very difficult to treat.

“TB continues to be among the top 10 deadly diseases in the world, in league with road injury, diabetes mellitus and Alzheimer’s disease,” Dr. Gumbo said. “With TB becoming increasingly drug-resistant, the WHO has taken an important step in convening a taskforce that will utilize expertise in the quantitative pharmacology approach of pharmacokinetics/pharmacodynamics, genomics, mathematical models and advanced computer-aided simulations to optimize dosing strategies for TB programs. This approach should reduce occurrences of acquired drug resistance and boost cure rates in TB programs around the world, including here in the U.S., in order to reduce the death rate.”

Dr. Gumbo led a team at the Baylor Scott & White Research Institute in groundbreaking studies on the effects of at least 19 anti-TB drugs and introduced several aspects of mathematical modeling and pharmacogenomics for anti-TB agents. He has also used artificial intelligence algorithms to identify the contributions of single drugs in combination therapy. Dr. Gumbo wrote seven papers in a special issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases last October, and a commissioned article in The Lancet on World TB Day 2017 on drug-resistant TB.

Recently, the Baylor Scott & White Research Institute team developed a first-of-its-kind treatment regimen for children infected with TB, tailored specifically for the way the disease spreads in their bodies. In children, the current treatment regimens for TB have high rates of toxicity and can leave children with disabilities such as hearing loss and learning difficulties. The research team is also designing treatments for forms of TB that are multidrug-resistant, or extensively drug-resistant, to help those around the world struggling with this deadly disease.

About Baylor Scott & White Health Formed from the 2013 merger between Baylor Health Care System and Scott & White Healthcare, the system referred to as Baylor Scott & White Health is the largest not-for-profit health care system in the state of Texas. With total assets of $10.8 billion* and serving a population larger than the state of Georgia, Baylor Scott & White Health has the vision and resources to provide its patients continued quality care while creating a model system for a dramatically changing health care environment. The system now includes 48 hospitals, more than 1,000 access points, 5,500 active physicians, and 44,000 employees, plus the Scott & White Health Plan, Baylor Scott & White Research Institute and Baylor Scott & White Quality Alliance — a network of clinical providers and facilities focused on improving quality, managing the health of patient populations, and reducing the overall cost of care. For more information visit:

* based on audited 2017 fiscal year statements