The Department of Microbiology and Immunology was founded in 1902 as the Department of Bacteriology under the chairmanship of Dr. Frederick G. Novy, who trained with the renowned bacteriologist Dr. Robert Koch. Founding of the Hygiene Laboratory marks the inception of this Department in 1887. In recognition of the newly established section in immunology, the current name was adopted in 1979. For more than a century, M&I has been a leader in advancing knowledge of the interactions between microbes and humans that dictate health or disease.
Under the leadership of Dr. Frederick C. Neidhardt in the 1970s, the Department developed and leveraged the rapidly expanding discipline of molecular biology to understand infectious disease pathology and resolution. In the 1990s, Chair Dr. Michael Savageau oversaw a growing focus on the molecular mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis and host defense. Over the past 15 years, Chair Dr. Harry Mobley led an expansion of the research portfolio to include interdisciplinary research that deciphers how the human microbiome impacts both health and infectious disease. In 2019, Dr. Bethany Moore became the interim Chair of M&I as we prepare for a search for our next permanent Chair.
Current research interests of Departmental investigators include gene regulation in prokaryotes and eukaryotes, molecular biology of animal and bacterial viruses, molecular basis of microbial pathogenesis, integrated behavior of complex molecular and cellular networks, the structure, function, and molecular genetics of immunoglobulins; T-cell receptors and cell surface antigens; and implementations of these findings for better health and disease reduction. This interdisciplinary research community brings a dynamic dimension to the Department's outstanding tradition in the fields of microbiology and immunology.
Collectively, we conduct research in microbial pathogenesis and immunology using the tools of molecular biology, genetic screens, cell culture, models of infection, molecular imaging, transgenic animals, and bioinformatics. We are also training the next generation of scientists. Ph.D students and postdoctoral fellows work side by side with principal investigators to test hypotheses of medical and scientific importance. Laboratory training is supplemented with rigorous coursework, seminar series, journal clubs, and presentation of research findings at national meetings.
Our faculty teach medical, dental, allied health, and undergraduate students. In addition, they serve locally to help conduct the work of the medical school and serve nationally in their respective professional organizations and on advisory boards of government panels. Faculty participate in peer review of manuscripts and grant applications for journals and funding agencies, respectively. Faculty, postdocs, doctoral students, undergraduates, research staff, and the administrative support staff all work together to further our missions of conducting medical and scientific research, training the next generation of scientists, teaching the University’s student body, and serving the medical school, the scientific community and the public.