TB Titan

Shah has tapped into technology to change the standard of care.

An illustration of MAUNANK SHAH

Illustration by Peter James Field

Tuberculosis kills 1.5 million people annually across the globe, according to the World Health Organization. Since beginning his fellowship in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins in 2007, Maunank Shah has worked tirelessly on a variety of fronts to blunt TB’s deadly impact.

Shah is the co-inventor of a mobile health tool called video directly observed therapy (vDOT), which allows patients to record themselves taking their medication. The vDOT platform Shah created and licensed to Scene Health is now used in more than 700 public health departments across the country. It is widely acknowledged to have changed the standard of care for TB.

Shah had witnessed just how challenging it was for patients with TB to make daily visits to a health center for directly observed therapy. “That was the genesis of the idea: Is there a more patient-friendly, patient-centered way that we could still achieve our public health goals of verifying daily TB treatment and supporting adherence?” The vDOT approach is now being used with asthma, diabetes, hypertension, heart failure and opioid use disorder, he notes.

President of the National Society of Tuberculosis Clinicians, Shah also serves as co-director for the microbiology and infectious diseases curriculum for medical students at Johns Hopkins, and as co-director of the Clinical Core for the Johns Hopkins Tuberculosis Research Advancement Center. He manages all of these commitments while serving as medical director for the Baltimore City Health Department’s TB program, where he oversees clinical care for all individuals with TB disease or infection in Baltimore as well as directs contact investigations and public health surveillance for tuberculosis in the area.

Shah also co-founded HIV-ASSIST, a free online and app-based tool that helps clinicians make individualized decisions on antiretroviral therapy regimens for their patients living with HIV.

“With vDOT, so many patients tell us how great and useful it is. And with HIV-ASSIST, providers let us know how much it has helped their own clinical practice,” Shah says. “That’s what motivates me: Being able to move the needle on helping to control or manage TB or HIV just makes life a little bit better.”