Robert J Wilkinson

Tuberculosis Laboratory

The programme derives its research questions from the clinical care of tuberculosis (TB) and HIV-TB co-infected persons in South Africa and London. Through clinically-based studies we aim to improve knowledge of pathogenesis and thereby improve prevention and treatment.

We contributed to the description of a distinct transcriptomic signature of active TB and are conducting further studies extending to the study of tuberculosis treatment monitoring. We have determined that vitamin D deficiency is highly prevalent in Cape Town, associating with susceptibility to tuberculosis both in both HIV-infected and uninfected persons. When used as an adjunct to the treatment of tuberculosis, vitamin D suppresses proinflammatory cytokine responses, and attenuates the suppressive effect of antimicrobial therapy on secretion of IL-4, CCL5, and IFN-α. This demonstrates a previously unappreciated role for vitamin D supplementation in accelerating resolution of inflammatory responses.

Figure 1

Figure 1. Principal component analysis (PCA) plots generated using immunological parameters which contribute to variation in baseline inflammatory profile between PTB patients of African and Eurasian ancestry. (Click to view larger image)

Figure 2

Figure 2. Circulating immunological correlates of slow sputum culture conversion differ between patients of African and Eurasian ancestry. Upward arrows indicate parameters whose concentration was higher in patients who converted slowly. (Click to view larger image)

Selected publications

Coussens, A.K., Wilkinson, R.J., Nikolayevskyy, V., Elkington, P.T., Hanifa, Y., Islam, K., Timms, P.M., Bothamley, G., Claxton, A.P., Packe, G.E., Darmalingam, M., Davidson, R.N., Milburn, H.J., Baker, L.V., Barker, R.D., Drobniewski, F., Main, C.A., Bhaw-Rosun, L., Nuamah, R.A., Griffiths, C.J., Martineau, A.R. Ethnic variation in inflammatory profile in tuberculosis PLOS Pathogens (2013) 9(7): e1003468

Martineau, A.R., Nhamoyebonde, S., Oni, T., Rangaka, M.X., Marais, S., Bangani, N., Tsekela, R., Bashe, L., de Azevedo, V., Caldwell, J., Venton, T.R., Timms, P., Wilkinson, K.A., Wilkinson, R.J. Reciprocal seasonal variation in vitamin D status and tuberculosis notifications in Cape Town, South Africa Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (2011) 108(47):19013-7

Berry, M.P.R., Graham, C.M., McNab, F.W., Xu, Z., Bloch, S.J., Oni, T., Wilkinson, K.A., Banchereau, R., Skinner, J., Wilkinson, R.J., Quinn, C., Blankenship, D., Dhawan, R., Cush, J.J., Mejias, A., Ramilo, O., Kon, O.M., Pascual, V., Banchereau, J., Chaussabel, D., and O'Garra, A. An Interferon-Inducible Neutrophil-Driven blood transcriptional signature in Human Tuberculosis Nature (2010) 466: 973-977

Robert Wilkinson

Robert Wilkinson
+27 21 406 6084

  • Qualifications and history
  • 1988 MA (Natural Sciences) University of Cambridge, UK
  • 1987 BM BCh University of Oxford, UK
  • 1989 DTM&H Royal College of Physicians of London, UK
  • 1997 PhD Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK
  • 2003 FRCP Royal College of Physicians of London, UK
  • 2015 Group Leader, the Francis Crick Institute, London, UK