About the MRL

The Mycobacteria Research Laboratories was founded some 25 years ago by Dr. Patrick J. Brennan and colleagues with the intent of generating an internationally recognized center of excellence for the study of mycobacterial diseases and pathogens. Since then, the MRL has been at the forefront of mycobacterial fundamental and translational research. Research programs in the MRL utilize state-of-the-art techniques and facilities to address:

  • Tuberculosis vaccine and drug development
  • Leprosy and tuberculosis diagnostics
  • The study of nontuberculous mycobacterial diseases and Buruli ulcer
  • The epidemiology and diagnostics of mycobacterial diseases affecting animals including bovine tuberculosis and Johne’s disease

More about the MRL
Downloadable MRL Brochures

In Memory – Dr. Ian Orme

Dr. Ian Orme, University Distinguished Professor, passed away on June 19, 2018. Read his obituary. His arrival to CSU in 1986 helped establish the formal founding of the Mycobacteria Research Laboratories (MRL) and leaves a legacy of successful researchers in the MRL and  science community. Read More…

New evidence that wild armadillos spread leprosy to humans

An international team led by researchers at Colorado State University has found that human contact with wild armadillos — including eating the meat — has contributed to extremely high infection rates of a pathogen that can cause leprosy in Pará, Brazil. Read more…

2018 World TB Day with the MRL

Colorado high school students get close-up look at tuberculosis research & hear from survivors at annual World TB Day events hosted by the MRL. Read more…

Fluorescent confocal images of amoebae after experimental co-culture with Yersinia pestis.

Amoebas & Infectious Diseases

MRL director, Mary Jackson, is leading an interdisciplinary One Health Initiative team to study the interaction of amoebas with various infectious diseases, including bovine tuberculosis and meliodosis. As part of this team, graduate student and CSU Vice President for Research Fellow, David Markman, published the insightful results on the hosting of Yersinia pestis (plague bacteria) in amoebae in Emerging Infectious Diseases, garnering him national recognition. Read More…

Brendan Podell awarded 2017 Zoetis Research Excellence Award

Mycobacteria Research Laboratories member, Brendan Podell, was awarded Colorado State University’s 2017 Zoetis Research Excellence Award for his ongoing research on  comorbidity of tuberculosis and diabetes. Along with this recognition, he gave the keynote address at CSU College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences’ 2018 Research Day to inspire the next generation of research excellence.  Read more…


World TB Day 2017

Dozens of northern Colorado high-school students heard from TB survivor Tenzin Kunor and gained an inside look at an infectious disease that kills an estimated 1.5 million people each year. Read More…

International Intrigue

A group of CSU tuberculosis researchers recently traveled to India to teach essential laboratory skills for promising young scientists at South Asian University. The visitors received an unexpected thank-you. Read more…

Graduate students at South Asian University participate in a workshop led by scientists in the CSU Mycobacteria Research Laboratories.

International Collaborations on Leprosy in the Amazon Rainforest

John Spencer spends nearly six months of every year in the Amazon region of Brazil working to end the stigma associated with leprosy and to help those infected understand, manage, and defeat the disease. As part of the MRL, he has been dedicated for the past 15 years on studying M. leprae, the tiny bacterium that causes leprosy, and his ongoing collaboration with Dr. Claudio Salgado is creating healthier communities in rural Brazil. Watch the videos below to learn more about how the MRL and the One Health Institute at Colorado State University are involved, and read more… 

Knife to Scalpel

A one-of-a-kind instrument built at Colorado State University lets scientists map cellular composition in three dimensions at the nanoscale, allowing researchers to watch how cells respond to new medications at the most minute level ever observed.  Read more…

Team lands NIH funds to examine tuberculosis and metabolism

The MRL team from Colorado State University will play a crucial role in a new project funded by the National Institutes of Health to examine factors that make people susceptible to the bacterium that causes tuberculosis and to discover new treatment strategies. Read more…

MRL Researchers – Discovery

MRL researchers have discovered that the pathogen, Mycobacterium leprae, can live for months inside protective host amoebae that are common in water, soil and plants – then can be easily transferred to trigger infection. Read more…

Outstanding Work

Crystal Shanley, a Research Associate in Dr. Ian Orme’s lab, has been recognized for her outstanding achievement in the care of research and teaching animals. Crystal was awarded the Technician of the Year for 2014. Crystal was instrumental in training an international Gates Foundation TB staff team in Witbank on the needed techniques for guinea pig vaccinations. Her stress-free procedure has been adopted by other laboratories in the TB field.

francisco with black shirt

Zoonotic TB Research

Dr. Francisco Olea-Popelka, aveterinary epidemiologist with the MRL, is the chairman of The Union’s Zoonotic TB Sub-Section. The sub-section monitors the transmission of tuberculosis between animals and people, especially in underserved communities in developing countries. To learn more, read the article in the Union E-News.

Diagnostic Breath Test for TB Research

Tuberculosis researchers at Colorado State University have landed a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a diagnostic breath test with potential to revolutionize TB testing and to better control the globally devastating infectious disease.  To learn more, read the article “Gates Foundation funds a new CSU breath test with promise for diagnosing tuberculosis”.

Leprosy Research in Brazil

Leprosy has become prevalent in rural areas of Brazil such as Breves, Brazil.  Watch the videos below to see how Colorado State University and MRL are directly helping Brazil with the combat against leprosy.