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“TB Disco”

Bjorn Sunde ’12, Research Assistant, Infectious Disease Research Institute

Bjorn SundeBjorn Sunde: Chemistry/Cellular and molecular
biology major

Everyday life in “TB Disco” may not involve flashing lights or pounding music, but it does involve some weird outfits, as Bjorn Sunde is discovering. As a research assistant on the tuberculosis drug discovery team (“TB Disco” for short) at Seattle’s Infectious Disease Research Institute, he has to don a full-body Tyvek suit when he works in the biosafety level 3 lab.

“Out of infectious diseases, it’s one of the three big killers,” he says. “At first, I was nervous and shaky, working with this deadly pathogen. I’m starting to get more used to it.”

Sunde’s lab is trying to find possible drugs that can treat strains of multidrug-resistant TB, which most often develops when TB patients don’t complete their full course of treatment. Once a TB case is multidrug-resistant, further treatments are time-consuming and expensive: The World Health Organization estimates that 2 billion dollars will be spent treating multidrug-resistant TB in 2015.

Sunde says his experience at Seattle Pacific prepared him for his current lab work. “In Dr. Wood’s lab, we did original research,” he says “To go through that process not knowing the answers — SPU helped me learn how to think scientifically.”

Can the TB Disco team find a better treatment? Sunde doesn’t know the answer, but he says, “There’s hope.”

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