Immune Responses to Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Antigens & Lipids Study

Tuberculosis investigator and physician Joel D. Ernst, MD, and his laboratory at NYU School of Medicine are working to improve the understanding of the human immune response and latent tuberculosis infection, or LTBI. With funding from the National Institutes of Health, they are conducting a research study to examine why some people with tuberculosis infection, or TB get sick, while others remain healthy.

Dr. Ernst and his study team are seeking healthy volunteers who are interested in helping to develop potential new approaches to understanding, preventing, and curing TB infection.

Become a Study Volunteer

Study participation requires only one visit. You meet with a study team member for a brief 10- to 20-minute interview to review your health status and determine your eligibility.

Study Eligibility Requirements

You are eligible to volunteer if you:

  • are 18 years of age or older
  • are not currently pregnant
  • weigh more than 110 pounds
  • do not take oral or injected systemic corticosteroids
  • do not have a blood or bleeding disorder, like sickle cell anemia or hemophilia
  • are not currently sick with or showing symptoms of TB
  • have LTBI, but not another infectious disease such as HIV or AIDS
  • are otherwise healthy (no chronic illness), without LTBI, and meet all previously listed criteria

If you do not meet these requirements, you cannot participate in this study. If you have a history of LTBI, you must present written documentation from a physician or licensed healthcare professional indicating a positive tuberculosis skin test, or QuantiFERON®-TB Gold or T-SPOT®.TB blood test.

Your health information stays private and you can get cash for your time. If you are interested in helping researchers develop potential new ways to prevent and treat others with TB, fill out our TB study volunteer form.

Study Procedure

If you are eligible to participate, a qualified nurse, physician, or phlebotomist will cleanse your skin with alcohol and draw up to 10 tablespoons (150 ml) of blood. The procedure may take up to 20 minutes. If you agree to be contacted for future visits, our study team may invite you to participate in more study or follow-up visits.

In the laboratory, we examine blood cells to learn more about how the human immune system responds to M. tuberculosis. We are interested in studying your white blood cells in vitro, a study process that occurs in a test tube or other laboratory culture media, to determine the traits and functions of different cell types, including T cells.  In some experiments, we treat your cells in a way that enables longer cell life, so we can study them in greater detail. We also determine information about the molecules your cells use to perform their purpose by obtaining DNA sequences of specific genes involved in T-cell responses. These are important steps to find different TB prevention methods and treatments.

Volunteer Compensation & Privacy

Participants receive money for volunteering upon completion of the study visit. NYU Langone is committed to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of your health information and research participation to the highest level in agreement with government laws.

What is tuberculosis?

Tuberculosis can occur when a person inhales small droplets of the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis that are released when an infected person coughs. The inhaled bacteria then usually attack the lungs but can also attack other parts of the body such as the brain, spine, bones, and kidney. Tuberculosis is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. 

People who contract TB develop an immune response, the immune system’s attempt to fight off an infection, which is sometimes capable of controlling the disease. Approximately 10 percent of people with TB develop active disease, with symptoms including weeks to months of fever, cough, weight loss, and shortness of breath over the course of a lifetime. Those who do not have symptoms or who do not become sick because their immune system is able to control the bacteria are considered to have latent tuberculosis infection, or LTBI.

Several diagnostic tests can identify both active and latent TB by detecting if a person has developed an immune response to M. tuberculosis. These include the tuberculosis skin test and the QuantiFERON®-TB Gold and T-SPOT®.TB blood tests.

Contact Us

Study ID: s10-02228
Study Title: Immune Responses to Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Antigens & Lipids Study
Research Investigator: Joel D. Ernst, MD
Medical Conditions Involved: tuberculosis; the immune system; infectious diseases

To learn more about this study, contact clinical research coordinator Lisa Zhao at or 212-263-6411. You can also fill out our TB study volunteer form.

For general information about participating in a research study, please review our resources for prospective and current study participants and our Participant Bill of Rights.