CO-PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR / SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR
Dr. Alland is a Professor of Medicine and the Chief of Infectious Disease as well as the Director of the Center for Emerging Pathogens and the Rutgers Regional Biocontainment Laboratories at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Dr. Alland is internationally recognized for his pioneering work on the epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment, and molecular evolution of M. tuberculosis (Mtb). His epidemiologic studies in the 1990s showed that drug resistant Mtb was being transmitted in institutions and the community, impacting national TB control efforts. He then led a 10-year research effort that culminated in the development of the Xpert MTB/RIF Assay, the first on-demand, point-of-care TB test, and the first replacement for the acid-fast smear to diagnose TB in over 100 years, recommended by the WHO and now used in 130 countries. This work continues in the development of rapid diagnostics for extended TB drug resistance, and blood stream detection of bioterrorism agents, S. aureus, Candida species, and more recent work on point-of-care diagnostics for COVID-19. Dr. Alland’s group along with the Sassetti laboratory discovered that phase variation in the M. tuberculosis glpK gene produced heritable, but rapidly reversible multi-drug tolerance; and suggested that phase variation may explain why TB requires months of multi-drug treatment. Dr. Alland described the complex interactions of mutations in the Mtb embB, Rv3806c and Rv3792 genes in the evolution of ethambutol resistance. He then translated these observations into innovative drug screens for inhibitors of cell wall biosynthesis and respiration, discovering novel drug candidates targeting Mtb Pks13, KasA and MenG, that are highly effective against stationary phase organisms, which promise to address the unmet need of more rapid effective TB treatment. Dr. Alland become the director of the Public Health Research Institute in February 2020; and then recognizing the gravity of coming COVID-19 epidemic, Dr. Alland organized the Center for Covid-19 response and pandemic preparedness and became its first Director in March 2020.