CHENNAI - 600031

(Established in 1955)



Phone: 044 -28369500
Fax: 044 -28362528
Email :
Website :
Scope of Activities:

  • Situated at Chennai in Tamil Nadu, the National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT) carries out research on all aspects (clinical, bacteriological, epidemiological, behavioural and laboratory) of tuberculosis and HIV-TB.
  • NIRT coordinates nation wide surveys to assess the prevalence of drug resistance to anti-TB drugs and also provides quality assurance to the laboratory component of the national programme.
  • NIRT is the preferred training destination for training of personnel for the RNTCP.

Thrust Areas:

The following are the thrust areas of research for NIRT

  • Development of cost effective, user- friendly treatment regimens for all forms of TB

  • Studies on the chemotherapeutic and behavioural aspects of HIV-TB

  • Studies on RNTCP/NACO research priorities to support the national TB and AIDS control

  • Vaccine trials for assessing the safety and efficacy of candidate HIV vaccines

  • Molecular and immunological aspects of TB pathogenesis and development of

International Recognition:

  • NIRT is a declared WHO Collaborating Centre for TB Research and Training and a Supranational
    Reference Laboratory for Mycobacterial Microbiology

  • An International Centre of Excellence in Research (ICER) has been established at NIRT in
    collaboration with NIH, USA

  • National Reference Laboratory for WHO in genotypic drug resistance testing of HIV

Human Resource Development :

  • Currently 32 staff/students are registered for Ph.D. programmes. Over 98 Ph.D. degrees and 2
    D.Sc. have been awarded to staff members and students.

  • Regular training programmes on GCP, GLP and biostatistics conducted in collaboration with
    national and international institutes of repute.

Recognition for Doctorate/Masters by a University:

The Centre serves as a recognized centre for Ph.D. programme by more than 5 universities including University of Madras. About nine staff members serve as guides/supervisors and members of the Doctoral Committees of various Universities.

Major Achievements:

Significant achievements of NIRT are the following:

  • Conducted more than 50 randomized control clinical trials in tuberculosis, extra-pulmonary
    TB, HIV and HIV-TB

  • Revolutionized the treatment of TB chemotherapy by establishing the value of domiciliary
    treatment of TB

  • Provided the evidence base for the globally used DOTS strategy by demonstrating the role
    of supervision and documentation in the treatment of TB

  • Demonstrated the utility of short course chemotherapy for extra-pulmonary TB

  • Conducted the largest BCG vaccine trial ever (Chengleput trial).

  • Demonstrated the epidemiological impact of the DOTS strategy in a community setting.

  • Provided the nation the first reliable estimate of the burden of TB

  • Trained over 5000 RNTCP personnel during the last decade

  • Completed two Phase I HIV preventive vaccine trials recruiting a total of 48 HIV-negative
    healthy volunteers of which 22 were women

  • Addressed a number of operational research issues that were of relevance for the RNTCP

    Improving administrative commitment

    • Evaluation of the epidemiological impact of DOTS

    • Evaluation of the socio-economic impact of DOTS

    • Estimating the burden of TB in India

    Improving case detection

    • Comparison of ≥2 weeks vs ≥3 weeks cough to improve the yield of smear-positive
      cases among outpatients

    • Examination of the role of repeat sputum smear microscopy after a course of

    • Modifications of sputum smear microscopy

    • Feasibility and effectiveness of involving private sector in DOTS

    • Role of community survey

    Gender disparities in TB

    Improving sputum microscopy

    • Evaluation of PhAS sedimentation method

    • Adequacy of 0.3% carbol fuchsin for ZN staining

    Comparison of 2 v/s 3 smears for diagnosis
    Improving treatment observation and outcomes

    • Effectiveness of different types of DOT providers

    • Evaluation of the risk factors for poor treatment outcomes

    • Examination of the correlation between duration of treatment and treatment
      outcome to define an optimal maximum cut-off period for completing treatment

    • Evaluation of post-treatment health-related quality of life (HRQoL)

    Management of multi drug resistance tuberculosis in the field

    Epidemiological and programme monitoring

    • Drug resistance monitoring

    • External quality assurance for sputum microscopy

    • Re-staining of sputum smears for LQAS

    • Storing of heat fixed smears for panel testing

    • Estimation of annual risk of TB infection

    Coordination between HIV and TB programme

    • Anonymous unlinked HIV testing among TB patients

    • Feasibility of provider-initiated HIV testing and counselling of tuberculosis patients
      under the TB control programme in two districts of South India

    • Cross referral between HIV counselling and testing centres and smear microscopy
      centres in Tamil Nadu

    Molecular epidemiology

    • Examination of possible TB transmission using molecular epidemiology studies

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