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Microbiology, Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology

The Microbiology, Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology specialization concentrates on the study of host-pathogen interactions at the molecular and cellular levels. Faculty research programs focus on how microorganisms interact with surfaces, how they survive inside and outside of their hosts, how signals are relayed between the microorganism and the host, and 
how the host responds to these signals.

Faculty in this area study host-parasite interactions to identify the molecular mechanisms responsible for disease, elucidate the functioning of the host's immune response, examine genetic mechanisms that underlie signal transduction, identify and elucidate the genomic content of pathogens, and explore fundamental properties of viruses. The novelty of this specialization is that students can use bacterial, fungal or viral platforms to study the pathogenic mechanisms that lead to disease and the mechanisms preventing disease in plant and/or animal hosts.

Graduate Program

The requirements for Ph. D. students in the Microbiology, Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology specialization are designed to ensure that students receive a broad background in Cell Biology, Molecular Genetics, and Microbiology, plus advanced training in their area of research. Our primary aim is to help students develop not only the technical laboratory skills, but also the critical thinking skills necessary for a rewarding career as an independent scientist. All M.S. and Ph.D. students in Microbiology, Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology follow the first year program required of all CBMG graduate students, including core courses and laboratory rotations. The student's advisory committee, in consultation with the student and his/her research advisor, will design a course of study tailored to the student's research plan and career objectives. This program will include formal courses, opportunities for critical discussion of the scientific literature through seminar courses and journal clubs, and interactions with the advisory committee. Recent Ph.D. students in Microbiology, Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology have readily obtained post-doctoral appointments at prestigious research universities, tenure-track teaching positions, positions at various government agencies, and jobs with Biotechnology companies.

Graduate Courses in Microbiology, Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology

  • Cell Biology I, Structure and Function (Song)
  • Cell Biology II, Signal Transduction (Kwak)
  • Genetics I, Gene Expression (Dinman)
  • Genetics II (Mount)
  • Techniques in Microscopy (Wolniak)
  • Immunology and Host Defense (Mosser & Frauwirth)
  • Microbial Pathogenesis (Briken, Gao, Lee & McIver)
  • Microbial Genetics (Stein)
  • Molecular Virology (DeStefano)
  • Virology Program Course (Fredericksen)
  • Bioethics (Simon)
  • CBMG Seminar Colloquium
  • Current Journal Clubs: Protein Translation (Dinman); Host Pathogen Interactions (Mosser); Virology (Fredericksen)

Faculty in Microbiology, Microbial Pathogenesis and Immunology

Norma Andrews, Professor and Chairman
Ph.D. University of Sao Paulo, Brazil 1983. Molecular strategies used by intracellular pathogens to subvert host cell function, and membrane traffic events involved in the repair of injured plasma membrane.
George Bean, Emeritus Professor
Ph.D. University of  Minnesota, 1963.  Plant pathology; occurrence, development and control of mycotoxins.
Spencer Benson, Associate Professor
Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles, 1976. Cancer biology and angiogenesis.
Volker Briken, Assistant Professor 
Ph.D. University of Paris (France), 1998. Molecular mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions and their importance for the virulence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
James Culver, Adjunct Associate Professor, Center for Biosystems Research, UMBI
Ph.D. University of California, Riverside 1991. Molecular plant-virus interactions; virion assembly, replication, and long-distance movement of tobacco mosaic virus.
Charles F. Delwiche, Associate Professor
Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1990. Molecular systematics, phylogeny, and evolution of chloroplasts.
Jeffrey DeStefano, Associate Professor
Ph.D. University of Connecticut, 1990. Mechanism of retroviral reverse transcriptases as it relates toreplication and recombination.
Najib El-Sayed, Associate Professor
Ph.D. Yale University School of Medicine, 1993. Biology of parasitismand host-pathogen interactions using genomic approaches with the ultimate goal of better understanding infection and survival mechanisms.
Kenneth Frauwirth, Assistant Professor
Ph.D. University of California-Berkeley. T cell activation and peripheral tolerance mechanisms; regulation of lymphocyte metabolism.
Eric O. Freed, Adjunct Associate Professor, Chief, Virus-Cell Interaction Section-NIH
Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1990. Molecular biology of HIV-1 replication; retrovirus assembly and release.
Brenda L. Fredericksen, Assistant Professor
Ph.D. University of Tennessee Health Science Center-1997. Viral-hostinteractions, Defining the molecular mechanism(s) by which flaviviruses evade and/or block the host innate antiviral response, Molecular and cellular mechanisms of pathogenesis of flaviviruses, Model systems include West Nile virus, Kunjin and dengue virus.
Lian-Yong Gao, Assistant Professor
Ph.D. University of Kentucky, 1999. Molecular genetics; molecular mechanisms of bacterial pathogenesis; molecular biology of bacterial toxins essential for virulence.
Steven W. Hutcheson, Associate Professor
Ph.D. University of California Berkeley, 1982. Molecular plant pathology; molecular biology of Pseudomonas parasitism; role and regulation of Type III protein secretion systems; pathogenicity and non host plant resistance.
Sam W. Joseph, Emeritus Professor
Ph.D. St. John's University (New York), 1970. Bacterial toxins; mechanisms of virulence; emerging causes of human gastroenteritis; chromosomal and extra chromosomal factors related to bacterial pathogenesis. 
Vincent Lee, Assistant Professor
Ph.D. University of California - Los Angles, 2000. Host-pathogen interactions, Molecular mechanisms of pathogenesis for Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Allosteric regulation of molecular complexes.
Kevin S. McIver, Associate Professor
Ph.D. University of Tennessee Sciences Center, 1994. Host-Bacterial pathogen interactions; Molecular mechanisms of virulence gene regulation in Streptococcus pyogenes; Protein secretion in Francisella tularensis.
David Mosser, Professor
Ph.D. North Carolina State University, 1983.  Cell and molecularbiology of macrophages and dendritic cells; regulation of cytokine gene expression; host defense response to intracellular pathogens.
Anne Simon, Professor
Ph.D. Indiana University, 1983. Molecular biology of plant-virus interactions.
Wenxia Song, Associate Professor
Ph.D. Kansas State University, 1991.  Antigen transport and signal transduction functions of the B cell antigen receptor.
Daniel C. Stein, Professor
Ph.D. University of Rochester, 1981. Molecular genetics; virulence mechanisms of pathogenic bacteria; Characterization of DNA Restriction and Modification Systems.
Richard Stewart, Associate Professor
Ph.D. University of Michigan, 1984.  Molecular biology of sensory systems and motility in bacteria.
David Straney, Associate Professor
Ph.D. Yale University, 1987. Fungal molecular biology, host recognition in the induction of pathogenicity genes and development.
Ronald M. Weiner, Emeritus Professor
Ph.D. Iowa State University, 1970. Marine bacteriology; molecular biology and morphogenesis of thermalvent budding bacteria; establishment of submerged marine surface communities. 



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