A team of Penn doctors and engineers has been awarded a $100,000 grant to develop an unusual new way of diagnosing tuberculosis (TB): ringing the bacteria that cause the disease like a bell. Tuberculosis is caused by a bacterium. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body, such as the kidney, spine, and brain. By attaching to those bacteria biomarkers that respond to skin-penetrating infrared light, the researchers aim to create a system where the disease burden of a given patient can be more comprehensively studied using an ultrasound machine. The proposed biomarkers would stick to the bacteria without interacting with them or the rest of the body, so the technique could be used repeatedly to track the total body burden of the disease over time. If successful, next steps would include customizing portable ultrasound machines to do this kind of analysis.