Episode Summary

Tuberculosis (TB) remains one of the most prevalent infectious diseases in the world, with approximately 10 million people becoming sick and 1.5 million people dying every year from Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection.

Dr. William Jacobs is a Professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and member of the National Academy of Sciences who studies M. tuberculosis.

TB is notoriously difficult to treat, due to the slow growth and persistence of the bacteria in the lungs, requiring extensive antibiotic treatment over a long period of time.

Dr. Jacobs talks about the history of tuberculosis (“consumption”) in humans, how M. tuberculosis can hang out in the lungs for an entire lifetime, how slow growth is a bacterial strategy to avoid killing by antibiotics, how growth in armadillos is required to study the closely related M. leprae (causes leprosy), just how scary drug-resistant TB strains are, and how dirt from the Bronx Zoo was hiding a genetic tool that was a game-changer for the study of TB.

The microCase for listeners to solve is about Ella Copta and Lana Jorgia, two internet vloggers who become ill after visiting an African shaman.


  • Karl Klose, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • William Jacobs, Ph.D. (Albert Einstein College of Medicine)
  • Janakiram Seshu, Ph.D. (UTSA)
  • Mylea Echazarreta (UTSA)
  • Abigail Blaschke (UTSA)
  • Jacobi Brown (UTSA)

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