Michael J. Imperiale, Ph.D.

Arthur F. Thurnau Professor

5724A Med Sci II


Areas of Interest


Our laboratory studies the molecular biology of the small DNA tumor virus, BK polyomavirus. BKPyV is a ubiquitous human pathogen that establishes a subclinical, persistent infection of the urinary tract during early childhood. In healthy individuals, the virus is excreted periodically into the urine but does not cause disease, but in renal and bone marrow transplant patients, the virus can cause severe and sometimes life threatening illnesses. We are interested in the interplay between viral and host factors that determine whether the virus will persist or replicate in the cell. On the host cell side, our current efforts are focused on both cytoplasmic and nuclear factors with which the virus interacts during infection. We are interested in control of viral replication once it reaches the nucleus, including the role of a virally-encoded miRNA in regulating viral gene expression. In addition, we are investigating the genesis of viral genomic rearrangements that occur in patients with BKPyV disease, which appears to involve the cellular DNA damage response. Since there are no effective antiviral drugs with which to treat transplant patients, we are hopeful that these studies will lead to not only the discovery of important and interesting biology, but to the identification of new therapeutic targets.

Honors & Awards

Faculty Fellowship, Columbia University

Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Fund Postdoctoral Fellowship

NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship

Arthur F. Thurnau Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan

Junior Faculty Research Award, American Cancer Society

Faculty Research Award, American Cancer Society

Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan

Faculty Recognition Award, University of Michigan

Medical Student Award for Teaching Excellence, University of Michigan Medical School

Leadership in Health Award, University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center

Jack Lapides Research Lecture, Department of Urology, University of Michigan Medical School

Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award, University of Michigan

Chair, Division S, American Society for Microbiology

Fellow, American Academy of Microbiology

Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science

Academic Leadership Program, Big Ten Academic Alliance (formerly Committee on Institutional Cooperation)

Endowment for the Basic Sciences Recognition Award, University of Michigan Medical School

Rackham Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award, University of Michigan

Endowment for the Basic Sciences Teaching Award in Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan Medical School

Keynote Address, 2019 Convocation & Commencement Ceremony, Van Andel Institute Graduate School


Ph.D., Columbia University, 1981

Published Articles or Reviews

Zhao, L. and Imperiale, M.J. (2017). Identification of Rab18 as an essential host factor for BKPyV infection using a whole genome RNA interference screen. mSphere https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphereDirect.00291-17.

153. Imperiale, M.J. (2017). How should I submit to mSphere: Traditional, expedited, or mSphereDirect? mSphere 2:e00419-17. https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00419-17.

154. Goetsch, H.E., Zhao, L., Gnegy, M., Imperiale, M.J., Love, N.G. and Wigginton, K.R. (2018). The fate of urinary tract virus BK human polyomavirus in source-separated urine. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 84:e02374-17.

155. Imperiale, M.J. and Casadevall, A. (2018). A new approach to evaluating the risk-benefit equation for dual use and gain of function research of concern. Front. Bioeng. Biotechnol. 6:21. doi: 10.3389/fbioe.2018.00021.

156. Imperiale, M.J. (2018). Re-creation of horsepox virus. mSphere 3:e00079-18. https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00079-18.

157. Imperiale, M.J. (2018). JC polyomavirus: Let's please respect privacy. J. Virol. doi:10.1128/JVI.00561-18

158. Imperiale, M.J., Howard, D., and Casadevall, A. (2018). The silver lining in gain-of-function experiments with pathogens of pandemic potential. Methods Mol. Biol. 1836:575-587.

159. Imperiale, M.J., Blader, I., Bradford, P., D'Orazio, S., Duprex, W.P., Ellermeier, C.D., Fernandez-Sesma, A., McMahon, K., Mitchell, A., Pasetti, M.F., and Tringe, S. (2018). Completion of an experiment. mSphere 3:e0067818. https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00678-18.

160. Ye, Y., Zhao, L., Imperiale, M.J., and Wigginton, K.R. (2019). Integrated cell culture-mass spectrometry method for infectious human virus monitoring. Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett. 6:407-412.

161. Mitchell, A., Blader, I., Bradford, P., D'Orazio, S., Duprex, W.P., Ellermeier, C.D., Fernandez-Sesma, A., Imperiale, M.J., McMahon, K., Pasetti, M.F., and Tringe, S. (2019). mSphere of Influence: the view from the microbiologists of the future. mSphere 4:e00348-19. https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00348-19.

162. Zhao, L. and Imperiale, M.J. (2019). Establishing RPTE-derived cell lines expressing hTERT for studying BK polyomavirus. Microbiol. Resour. Announc., 8:e01129-19. https://doi.org/10.1128/MRA.01129-19. Also posted to bioRxiv doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/766675.

163. DiEuliis, D., Ellington, A.D., Gronvall, G.K., and Imperiale, M.J. (2019). Does biotechnology pose new catastrophic risks?. In: Inglesby, T., Adalja, A. (eds) Global Catastrophic Biological Risks. Curr. Top. Microbiol. Immunol., 424:107-119.

164.  Imperiale, M.J. (2020). Pandemics and people. mSphere 5:e0041020.  https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00410-20.

165.  Sáenz Robles, M.T., Cantalupo, P.G., Duray, A.M., Freeland, M., Murkowski, M., van Bokhoven, A., Stephens-Shields, A.J., Pipas, J.M., and Imperiale, M.J. (2020). Analysis of viruses present in urine from patients with interstitial cystitis. Virus Genes 56: 430-438. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11262-020-01767-z.

166.  Imperiale, M.J. (2020). Recurring themes. mSphere 5:e0063320.  https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00633-20.

167.  Schloss, P., Junior, M., Alvania, R., Arias, C., Bäumler, A., Casadevall, A., Detweiler, C., Drake, H., Gilbert, J., Imperiale, M.J., Lovett, S., Maloy, S., McAdam, A., Newton, I., Sadowsky, M., Sandri-Goldin, R., Silhavy, T., Tontonoz, P., Young, J., Cameron, C., Cann, I., Fuller, A.O., and Kozik, A.J. (2020). The ASM journals committee values the contributions of black microbiologists. mSphere 5:e00719‑20.  https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00719-20. (Published simultaneously in sixteen American Society for Microbiology journals)

168.  Imperiale, M.J. and Casadevall, A. (2020). Re-thinking gain of function experiments in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. mBio 11:e01868‑20. https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.01868-20.

169.  Zou, W., Vue, G.S., Assetta, B., Manza, H., Atwood, W.J., and Imperiale, M.J. (2020). Control of archetype BK polyomavirus miRNA expression. J. Virol. 95:e01589-20. https://doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01589-20. (Chosen by Editors as a Spotlight Article)

170.  Andrade, M.J., Vue, G.S., and Imperiale, M.J. (2021). The polyomavirus episteme: A database for researchers. Microbiol. Resour. Announc. 10:e00108-21. https://doi.org/10.1128/MRA .00108-21.

171. Zou, W. and Imperiale, M.J. (2021). Biology of polyomavirus miRNA. Frontiers Microbiol. 2021 Apr 6;12:662892. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.662892.

172.  Casadevall, A., Weiss, S., and Imperiale, M.J. (2021). Can science help resolve the controversy on the origins of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic? mBio 12:e01948-21. https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.01948-21.

173.  Zhao, L. and Imperiale, M.J. (2021). A cell culture model of BK polyomavirus persistence, genome recombination, and reactivation. mBio 12:e02356-21. https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.02356-21.

174.  Engleberg, N.C., DiRita, V.J., and Imperiale, M.J. (2021). Schaechter’s Mechanisms of Microbial Disease, 6th Edition. Wolters Kluwer, Philadelphia.

175.  Nomburg, J., Zou, W., Frost, T.C., Datta, C., Vasudevan, S., Starrett, G.J., Imperiale, M.J., Meyerson, M., and DeCaprio, J.A. (2022). Long-read sequencing reveals complex patterns of wraparound transcription in polyomaviruses. PLoS Pathog 18(4): e1010401. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1010401.

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