September 4, 2018

Microbiology & Immunology Promotions 2018!

The Department of Microbiology & Immunology is very proud to announce the following promotions which are effective September 1, 2018.

Akira Ono, Ph.D. – We are delighted to announce that Dr. Akira Ono has been promoted to full professor. Dr. Ono has developed and maintained an NIH-funded and internationally respected research program, and he is on a trajectory that indicates this will continue for years to come. Since his arrival to the University of Michigan in 2005, Dr. Ono has unequivocally established himself as a leading investigator in the field of HIV-1 Gag-membrane interactions and retrovirus assembly. He and his group have demonstrated that RNA binding to the MA domain of the Gag protein modulates the lipid binding activity of Gag and controls the locations within infected cells that HIV is assembled. Further, they have discovered that RNA interaction with MA domains is a general paradigm that regulates membrane targeting and assembly of retroviruses other than HIV. Another major discovery from the Ono lab is that HIV assembles primarily within the uropod of infected T cells. He has established some of the key molecular mechanisms involved and has demonstrated that uropod assembly is critical for subsequent HIV transmission. His studies have progressed to a level where he is internationally recognized in the field. In 2017, Dr. Ono was awarded an NIH R37 MERIT award, demonstrating his impressive productivity and his profound impact in the field. These awards are intended to “provide long-term grant support to investigators whose research competence and productivity are distinctly superior and who are highly likely to continue to perform in an outstanding manner.”

Further, Dr. Ono is an excellent teacher and engaged trainer of students. He is a highly skilled mentor for postdoctoral fellows and graduate students in his laboratory, and he expertly guides his trainees to develop their scientific knowledge and skills and prepares them for professional careers in science.

Mark Anderson, Ph.D. – We are delighted to announce that Mark Anderson has been promoted to Research Assistant Professor. Dr. Anderson is an accomplished investigator who studies the physiology and virulence of the opportunistic bacterial pathogens Serratia marcescens and Citrobacter freundii during bloodstream infections as well as the regulatory control of flagellar motility and the secreted phospholipase enzyme of S. marcescens. He has characterized the virulence pathogens in the above-mentioned pathogens by creating genetic systems to facilitate high-throughput analysis of mutant libraries and through detailed analysis of individual biological pathways within each organism. This work represents a seminal advance in the field for these understudied bacterial species that contribute to the global burden of healthcare associated infections. Clearly, Dr. Anderson has been extremely productive during his tenure at UM.

My-Hang (Mae) Huynh, Ph.D. – We are delighted to announce that Mae Huynh has been promoted to Associate Research Scientist. Dr. Huynh has a background in molecular and cellular parasitology, and she has flourished in the highly accomplished and productive laboratory of Vernon Carruthers. Her work focuses on the medically important pathogen, Toxoplasma gondii; specifically, it focuses on attempting to understand how this pathogen invades host cells, and the identification of parasite proteins involved in invasion to determine which are attractive targets for novel anti-parasitic drug design. She was the first to investigate parasite adhesins, which are necessary for efficient invasion of human cells. This has advanced our understanding of how the parasite can interact with host cells prior to invasion and should uncover parasite-specific functions that could be used as drug targets against toxoplasmosis. She has published a very impressive body of work in top journals and has also been successful at attaining grant funding, having been awarded an NIH R21 grant for which she was principal investigator. Clearly, Dr. Huynh has an outstanding research record.

Adam Lauring, M.D., Ph.D. – We are delighted to announce that Adam Lauring has been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. Dr. Lauring holds primary appointments in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Microbiology & Immunology as well as a joint appointment in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology in the College of Literature, Science & Arts. He is active in clinical care as well as being a recognized, national leader in the evolutionary dynamics of RNA viruses. His current work seeks to define the importance of mutation rate and mutational tolerance to the behavior of RNA viruses. Since his arrival at UM, he has been developing projects to define the population genetics of influenza viruses within and between human hosts. His work as helped to define the impact of vaccine induced immunity on host virus populations, and he then built on this work to infer transmission events within households and to quantify the transmission bottleneck for influenza. His lab has enjoyed continuous industry, foundation and federal funding for this important work. Last year he was awarded the highly competitive Investigator in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund.

Simeone Marino, Ph.D. – We are very happy to announce the promotion of Simeone Marino to Associate Research Scientist. Dr. Marino is an investigator with an excellent and uniquely diverse background in statistics, operations research, and techniques for computationally addressing complex systems, in particular, infectious diseases and host-pathogen interactions. At Michigan, he has focused on microbiome analysis and network inference and diagnostics. He has developed specialized expertise in data mining and different types of mathematical modeling of bacterial infections, including ordinary and delay differential equation models, as well as stochastic agent based models. He is one of the first investigators using comprehensive spatio-temporal models of tuberculosis. He has also developed intriguing algorithms for model generation and parameter fitting based on time course data. Additionally, he has analyzed questions of uncertainty and sensitivity in dynamic models. He has demonstrated mastery of dynamic and delayed models, stochastic processes, agent-based modeling, bioinformatics, machine learning, and nonlinear programming. He serves as co-investigator on several active NIH awards, and he has an impressive national and international reputation.

Karla Passalacqua, Ph.D. – We are delighted to announce the promotion of Karla Passalacqua to Assistant Research Scientist. Dr. Passalacqua is an accomplished investigator who studies the mechanisms of bacterial and viral pathogenesis in host cells, primarily macrophages. Since her appointment as UM faculty, she has been focused on the role of cellular metabolic regulation in host defense against norovirus and the bacterial pathogen Listeria monocytogenes. She has identified and utilized a novel approach to manipulate the host ubiquitin/proteasome system to improve infection outcomes. This work has not only led to excellent publications, but also to two major NIH grant proposals. Dr. Passalacqua is a dedicated, outstanding researcher at all levels, and she continues to make substantial contributions in highly collaborative, team-based research projects which have required advanced understanding of prokaryotic and eukaryotic metabolism.

Andrew Tai, M.D., Ph.D. – We are happy to announce the promotion of Andrew Tai to Associate Professor with tenure. Dr. Tai’s primary appointment is in the Department of Internal Medicine, and he has a joint appointment with the Department of Microbiology & Immunology. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University magna cum laude, and then he completed a combined MD/PhD program in Cell Biology & Genetics at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences. He went on to complete residency training in Internal Medicine at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, followed by a clinical and research fellowship in Gastroenterology at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is an outstanding scientist who is recognized for his expertise in the area of hepatitis C (HCV) and flavivirus RNA replication. He has made significant contributions to our understanding of the mechanisms by which HCV exploits host lipid signaling pathways to build their replication organelles, and his current work now includes dengue virus as well.

We are very proud of all of the accomplishments of each of our promotees and wish them continued success in the future!