Michael J. Imperiale, Ph.D.

Arthur F Thurnau Professor Emeritus
Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and Immunology

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

Imperiale, M.J., and Blader, I.J. (2019). An expanded platform for young scientists. mSphere 4:e00653-19. https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00653-19.

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

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.

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

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.

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)

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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.

DeCaprio, J.A., Imperiale, M.J., and Hirsch, H. (2022). Polyomaviridae. In: P.M. Howley, D.M. Knipe, B.A. Damania, J.I. Cohen (eds.): Fields Virology, 7th Edition, Volume 2: DNA Viruses, Wolters Kluwer, Philadelphia, pp. 1-44.

Global Science Forum Expert Group on Research Norms, Standards, and Integrity, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (2022). Integrity and security in the global research ecosystem (Report). https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/science-and-technology/integrity-and-security-in-the-global-research-ecosystem_1c416f43-en

Imperiale, M.J. and Casadevall, A. (2022). Thinking about social media, scientific information, and public communication. mSphere https://doi.org/10.1128/msphere.00422-22.

Committee on Protecting Critical Technologies for National Security in an Era of Openness and Competition. (2022). Protecting U.S. Technological Advantage. The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26647.

Imperiale, M.J., Casadevall, A., Goodrum, F.D., and Schultz-Cherry, S. (2022). Virology in peril and the greater risk to science. mSphere, mBio, and J. Virol. https://doi.org/10.1128/msphere.00607-22, https://doi.org/10.1128/mbio.03339-22, https://doi.org/10.1128/jvi.01847-22.

Goodrum, F., Lowen, A.C., Lakdawala, S., Alwine, J., Casadevall, A., Imperiale, M.J., and 150 others. (2023). Virology under the microscope – A call for rational discourse. mSphere, J. Virol, and mBio https://doi.org/10.1128/msphere.00034-23, https://doi.org/10.1128/jvi.00089-23, https://doi.org/10.1128/mbio.00188-23.

Zou, W. and Imperiale, M.J. (2023). Regulation of virus replication by BK polyomavirus small t antigen. J. Virol., https://doi.org/10.1128/jvi.00077-23. Editor’s Pick.

Alwine, J.C., Casadevall, A., Enquist, L.W., Goodrum, F.D., and Imperiale, M.J. (2023). A critical analysis of the evidence for the SARS-CoV-2 origin hypotheses. mSphere, https://doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00119-23, J. Virol., https://doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00365-23, mBio,  https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.00583-23.

Garfinkel, S., Alam, S., Baskin, P., Bennett, C., Carruthers, B., Engler, J., Flanagin, A., Garrity, S., Graf, C., Imperiale, M.J., King, C., Kleinert, S., Kulp, D., Mankowski, C., Nugent, N., Pulvirenti, T., Qualkenbush, L., Sobiecki, E., Wainstock, D., Wilfong, E., Wold, L., and Yucel, J. (2023). Enhancing partnerships of institutions and journals to address concerns about research misconduct. Recommendations from a working group of institutional research integrity officers and journal editors and publishers. JAMA Netw Open. 6(6):e2320796. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.20796.

Procario, M.C., Sexton, J.Z., Halligan, B.S., and Imperiale, M.J. (2023). Single cell high content microscopy analysis of BK polyomavirus infection. Microbiol. Spectr.https://doi.org/10.1128/spectrum.00873-23.

Imperiale, M.J. and Casadevall, A. (2023). When is improvement not? Worsening scores after grant proposal revision. mSphere, https://doi.org/10.1128/msphere.00155-23.

Runstadler, J.A., Lowen, A.C., Kayali, G., Tompkins, S.M., Albrecht, R.A.,  Fouchier, R.A.M., Stallknecht, D.E., Lakdawala, S.S., Goodrum, F.D., Casadevall, A., Enquist, L.W., Alwine, J.C., Imperiale, M.J., Schultz-Cherry, S., Webby, R.J., and Heise, M.T. (2023). Field research is essential to counter virological threats. J. Virol. https://doi.org/10.1128/jvi.00544-23.

An, P., Sáenz Robles, M.T., Cantalupo, P.G., Naik, A.S., Sealfon, R., Imperiale, M.J., and Pipas, J.M. (2023). Transcriptional profiling reveals that cultured renal proximal epithelial cells resemble stressed/damaged kidney. J. Virol. https://doi.org/10.1128/jvi.00343-23.

Imperiale, M.J. (2023). Polyomaviridae. AccessScience. https://doi.org/10.1036/1097-8542.536000.

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