Chris Cross’ team identifies new molecular insights on tuberculosis in the Cobb Collection
For his dissertation research, doctoral student Christopher Cross and his team have developed a novel computational pipeline to recover and identify the microbial content using DNA extracted and sequenced from 19th and 20th century African American teeth and petrous bones. Over the summer his team successfully identified numerous bacterial species in these samples. Among those observed were several species of tuberculosis, including human Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These findings provide a molecular level diagnosis which in some cases verify the clinical cause of death. To our knowledge, no one has successfully conducted this type of work on non-modern highly contaminable human skeletal remains of African Americans. His team is very excited about these results and are currently performing additional analysis.