William R. Jacobs, Jr. is a Professor of Microbiology and Immunology and of Genetics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine (AECOM) and is also an Investigator in the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. As a graduate student with Drs. Josephine E. Clark-Curtiss and Roy Curtiss III at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, he constructed the first genomic libraries of Mycobacterium leprae from bacilli that had been grown in nine-banded armadillos. He then joined the lab of Dr. Barry Bloom at Einstein with the goal of developing gene transfer for the Mycobacterium tuberculosis and the TB vaccine strain, BCG. In a seminal paper published in Nature in 1987, Dr. Jacobs reported the introduction of foreign DNA into mycobacteria for the first time, using a novel mycobacteriophage vector called a shuttle phasmid. These shuttle phasmids were key to developing plasmid transformation, efficient transposon mutagenesis, specialized transduction, and reporter phages for M. tuberculosis. More recently, Dr. Jacobs has been a founding scientist for the Howard sponsored research multiplex, K-RITH (KwaZulu Natual Research Institute on Tuberculosis and HIV) located in Durban, South Africa.

Research Interests

Elucidation of Mechanisms of action and resistance to TB drugs; Development of new TB drugs that kill actively growing M. tuberculosis and the non-replicating persister M. tuberculosis cells; Elucidation of the mechanisms by which M. tuberculosis evades innate and adaptive immune responses; Development of novel TB vaccines; Genetic engineering of BCG and attenuated M. tuberculosis as a vaccine vector to protect against other infectious diseases; Development of Novel Diagnostics for Drug Susceptibility testing using genetically engineered mycobacteriophages expressing luciferase or fluorescent protein.

Membership Type


Election Year


Primary Section

Section 44: Microbial Biology

Secondary Section

Section 26: Genetics