The Department of Microbiology and Immunology was founded in 1902 as the Department of Bacteriology under the chairmanship of Dr. Frederick G. Novy, who studied with Dr. Robert Koch, one of the leading bacteriologists of his time. Founding of the Hygiene Laboratory marks the inception of this department in l887. Establishment of microbiology as a subject dates even earlier to a course given in 1881 by Dr. V.C. Vaughan on ferments and germs, entitled "Sanitary Science." In 1963, the department's name was changed to Department of Microbiology, and in 1979 the current name was adopted in recognition of the newly established section in immunology. As one of the earliest departments of its kind in the nation, the Department of Microbiology and Immunology has evolved from more than a century of pioneering excellence.
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 next 15 years (2004-2019), 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 and was named the permanent chair in 2021. Under her leadership there has been a renewed focus on immunology, inflammation and host defense.

Research interests of 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; as well as structure, function, and molecular genetics of immunoglobulins, T-cell receptors and cell surface antigens. There is also expertise in fungal biology, parasitology, microbiome and many computational biology approaches. This interdisciplinary approach adds a dynamic dimension to the Department's already outstanding tradition in microbiology and immunology.

The Department of Microbiology & Immunology is the eleventh site in the United States to be named a historical site by the American Society for Microbiology. Learn more about our Milestones in Microbiology celebration.

The 110 years of Microbiology and Immunology PowerPoint presentation.

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