Mission statement

A multidisciplinary approach is being used by UPCOL to tackle major public health problems such as tuberculosis (TB) and leprosy. The unit comprises experts in genomics, functional genomics, bioinformatics, biochemistry, chemistry and structural biology.

Using genome biology as a platform we are actively involved in discovering new drugs to treat TB and believe that knowledge gained through discovery must be broadly and swiftly disseminated. Given the global importance of the TB problem, we are trying to strike the correct balance between competition and collaboration. In addition to numerous collaborations in the context of the EPFL and the framework of NM4TB, we are also collaborating with other leading European and American scientists such as Professor Pedro Alzari, Professor Patrick Brennan, Dr. Roland Brosch and Dr. Christophe Guilhot.


15.11.17 Professor Stewart Cole has been appointed President of the Institute Pasteur in Paris, starting in January 2018. More.

24.04.17 The Bill & Melinda Gates foundation has awarded EPFL-based non-profit iM4TB $2.45 million to take their innovative anti-tuberculosis drug PBTZ169 into clinical trials. More.

17.11.16 Microbiologists at EPFL and the University of Edinburgh have discovered that red squirrels in Britain and Ireland carry the two bacterial species that cause leprosy in humans. More.

08.08.16 Professor Stewart Cole (EPFL) won the Gardner Middlebrook Award 2016 at the 37th Annual Congress of the European Society of Mycobacteriology (3 July 2016; Catania, Italy). More.

27.07.15 Testing thousands of approved drugs, EPFL scientists have identified an unlikely anti-tuberculosis drug: the over-the-counter antacid lansoprazole (Prevacid®). More.

03.06.15 Scientists at EPFL have discovered how the tuberculosis bacterium can trick the patient’s immune cells to lower their defences. More.

27.03.15 The Swiss Foundation for Tuberculosis Research has given their annual SwissTB award to Giulia Manina and Jan Rybniker at the Global Health Institute, homed at the EPFL School of Life Sciences. More.

24.03.15 EPFL scientists have compared for the first time the genomes of the two bacteria species that cause leprosy. The study shows how the two species evolved from a common ancestor 13.9 million years ago, and offers new insights into their biology that could lead to new treatments. More.

16.03.15 EPFL spin-off “Innovative Medicines for Tuberculosis” (iM4TB) has been awarded nearly USD 750,000 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a breakthrough drug against tuberculosis. More.

06.11.14 Professor Stewart Cole has been awarded the prestigious Emil von Behring Prize for his contributions to the field of tuberculosis. More.

10.10.14 EPFL scientists have discovered two small molecules that could overcome the multi-drug resistance of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. More.

28.07.14 The pharmaceutical company Nearmedic is collaborating with EPFL to participate in the development of a treatment against tuberculosis. The company bought a license covering the use of the molecule in most countries of the former Soviet Union, where multi-resistant strains are prevalent. More.

12.03.14 Even though tuberculosis kills more than 1.5 million people every year, the market is not cost-effective for pharmaceutical companies. So EPFL is setting up a foundation to release an antibiotic developed in its own laboratories under EU funding. More.

11.12.13 A natural antibiotic turns out to be a lethal weapon in the fight against tuberculosis. Scientists have discovered it has an unexpected dual action that dramatically reduces the probability that TB bacteria will become resistant. More.

22.03.13 For twelve years the Swiss Foundation for Tuberculosis Research, SwissTB, has awarded annually a prize of CHF 10’000 for a research project in the field of tuberculosis. The SwissTB Award 2013 goes one side to the basic researcher Ruben C. Hartkoorn of the EPFL’s Global Health Institute, on the other side to the clinical researcher Lukas Fenner from the University of Bern. These two research projects are an important contribution to better understanding – in order to better fight – TB that is still on the rise worldwide. More.

04.10.12 Researchers from Stewart Cole’s lab (Chair of Microbial Pathogenesis) look back to a 1950s antibiotic to combat drug resistance. More.

22.09.11 Pyrazinamide – old TB drug finds new target. More.

29.04.11 The study confirms human contamination through contact with armadillos, in a joint collaboration between the Global Health Institute and the National Hansen’s Disease Program. More.

14.03.11 The École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), has joined with AstraZeneca, sanofi-aventis, the Universities of Pavia, Uppsala and Cambridge, and 19 other research groups from 13 different countries, to form the More Medicines for Tuberculosis (MM4TB) consortium, which aims to develop new drugs for successful and shorter treatment of Tuberculosis (TB). Funding is from the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and the consortium is led by TB expert Professor Stewart Cole from EPFL. More.