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TB Notes Newsletter

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No. 2, 2010


TBESC: Preparing for the Future

Planning for the next 10 years of the Tuberculosis Epidemiologic Studies Consortium (TBESC) is well underway. The members of DTBE’s Epidemiology Team are implementing a timeline created in 2008 that details the steps required to create the new TBESC. The current TBESC, created in 2001, is comprised of 16 geographically diverse sites consisting of academic institutions, health departments, hospitals, and for-profit as well as not-for-profit organizations. These sites have collaborated with CDC on a total of 32 research projects on topics such as TB prevention in the foreign-born, TB mortality, and TB in African Americans. Although all the studies performed have contributed to our understanding of TB epidemiology, the studies with the greatest impact have been those that involved most or all of the TBESC sites. Therefore, the new TBESC will consist of one main research project that will be studied by all TBESC sites.

The process of developing the focus of research for the new consortium has been an extensive one. National and international TB experts were invited to join a Strategic Planning Workgroup (SPWG) to develop a focus of research for the new TBESC. Prior to the first meeting, a broad list of concepts was prepared with widespread input from the TB community in the United States. The first meeting was then used to discuss these 12 general topics related to TB research, and to narrow that list to six topics.

The topics were further examined in the second meeting and ultimately narrowed to three potential areas for research. These areas were developed into research plans; the third meeting was used to discuss these plans and decide on the final focus for research. Because the application process is an open competition, specifics of the intervention will be disclosed to all potential applicants when the statement of work is released. However, throughout the discussions in the three meetings, the SPWG reiterated that in order to eliminate TB in the United States, focus must be placed on reducing latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI). Therefore, the new TBESC will work on some aspect of research related to LTBI.

The work of preparing for the new consortium has only increased following the selection of the focus of research for the new consortium. The epidemiology team staff members have traveled to several health departments around the country to talk with TB controllers and health department staff about how LTBI care is performed at their site. These visits have illuminated variations between sites in their methods of providing care. Sites visited were chosen to geographically represent the United States as a whole, and to provide background on LTBI care in a variety of patient populations.

Although much progress has been made in planning for the new TBESC, there is much left to be done. The statement of work detailing the research to be performed by the new consortium is undergoing final edits, and should be available on the Federal Business Opportunities website in the summer of 2010. Applicants will have 60 days to draft a proposal to submit to CDC to be considered as a site. In addition, the Epidemiology Team is already considering and planning a data entry system that will best suit the needs of the new consortium. Dr. Denise Garrett, TBESC project officer, stated, “We are applying our experience gained from the last 10 years in planning for a new, state-of-the-art TBESC. Our goal for the next 10 years is to be performing cutting-edge research to make TBESC the reference for TB and LTBI epidemiologic research in the United States.”

—Reported by Suzanne Beavers, MD
Div of TB Elimination


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