Microbiology and Immunology Track Faculty

The primary department of each Microbiology and Immunology track faculty member is listed.

Yousseff Aachoui, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
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Innate Immunity Defenses against Intracellular Pathogens

Jon Blevins, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
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We study the pathogenesis of the Borrelia spirochetes that cause Lyme disease and relapsing fever.

Karl Boehme, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
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My laboratory studies mechanisms of reovirus pathogenesis.

Nalini Bora, PhD
Ophthalmology
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My research is focused upon the understanding of biochemical, immunological, molecular and genetic mechanisms of various ocular diseases such as autoimmune uveitis and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Marie Burdine, PhD
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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My laboratory focuses on two main areas of research: 1) understanding how epigenetic proteins regulate pancreatic tumor cell response to chemotherapy, and 2) identifying targets for the development of immunosuppression therapies for solid organ transplant patients. My research focuses on understanding how the epigenetic protein ATAD2, which is highly expressed in pancreatic cancer as well as other cancers, modifies a tumor cell’s response to chemotherapy.

Mark Cannon, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
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Our current research is focused on elucidation of the signaling pathways that drive myeloid cell-mediated immune suppression and on development of adjuvant treatments for DC vaccination against ovarian cancer.

Paul Drew, PhD
Neurobiology and Developmental Sciences
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My research has focused on the role of alcohol-induced neuroinflammation in driving neurodegeneration. These studies are highly relevant to developmental disorders including fetal alcohol spectrum disorders as well as alcohol use disorders and alcohol addiction in adolescents and adults.  My research has been steadily funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and private agencies.

Craig Forrest, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
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Virology, cancer biology, immunology! Gammaherpesviruses are cancer-causing viruses that infect the majority of humans. We are working to define functions of viral proteins in infection and disease, identify host factors that block viral infection and prevent virus-driven cancers, and understand immune responses to chronic viral infections. Our major goal is to comprehend the complex relationship between gammaherpesviruses and their hosts. PLUS, we get to do cool science and figure out how stuff works!

En Huang, PhD
Environmental and Occupational Health
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The main theme of my research is to discover and develop antimicrobial peptides (e.g., bacteriocins and lipopeptides). These antimicrobial agents have the potential to be used as natural food preservatives, animal feed additives or novel antibiotics against drug-resistant bacterial pathogens.

Lu Huang, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
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The overall goal of my laboratory is to define the protective immunity against Mtb. We focus on the biology of lung macrophages and aim to understand the ontogeny and immunometabolism of those cells during Mtb infection. Ultimately, this knowledge will inform the development of vaccines and novel therapeutic interventions against this pathogen. Moreover, these studies may also have a broad impact on other pulmonary diseases.

Chia Lee, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
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Molecular pathogenesis of Staphylococcus aureus

Lin-Xi Li, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
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Adaptive immunity to Chlamydia female reproductive tract infection.

Hong-yu Li, PhD
Pharmaceutical Sciences
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Research interests include drug discovery of targeted therapeutics focusing on Single Agent Poly-pharmacology (SAP), drug discovery research for “non-druggable” targets, and development of a kinase fragment library and novel synthetic methodologies for accelerating the drug discovery process.

Jia Liu, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
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The Liu lab studies host intrinsic innate signaling using poxvirus as probing tool. We also engineer poxviruses for immunotherapy of cancer such as ovarian cancer.

Vladimir Lupashin, PhD
Physiology and Biophysics
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My laboratory is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms responsible for the generation and maintenance of intra-cellular membrane-bounded compartments. In all eukaryotic cells intracellular membrane trafficking is critical for a range of important cellular functions including protein secretion, post-translational modifications, cell signalling, cell polarization, and cell maintenance. Defects in membrane trafficking can underline, or even exacerbate, a number of human diseases including cancer, diabetes mellitus, Alzheimer’s, cystic fibrosis, Hermansky-Pudlak syndrome and Congenital Disorders of Glycosylation.

Mark Manzano, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
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We are interested in studying primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), an aggressive B cell cancer caused by the Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus or human herpesvirus 8 (KSHV/HHV8). PEL tumor cells rely on the constitutive expression of virally encoded genes that globally reprogram host gene expression to create a conducive environment optimal for tumor cell proliferation and survival.

Mayumi Nakagawa, PhD
Pathology
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Cell-mediated immunity against human papillomavirus (HPV), HPV therapeutic vaccine development, cancer immunotherapy

Roger Pechous, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
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Our laboratory is interested in understanding the pathogenesis of pulmonary infection with Yersinia pestis, the causative agent of plague.  We seek to characterize the host/pathogen interactions responsible for disease progression and to define the mechanisms and effects of inflammation-mediated pulmonary damage that occur during infection.

Brian Piccolo, PhD
Pediatrics
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My research focuses on using large biological datasets from “–omics” technologies to characterize the interaction between lifestyle choices (e.g., diet and physical activity) and physiology. Currently, I’m interested in how diet and physical activity alters the xeno-metabolome (“non-self” gut microbe-derived metabolites) and how these metabolites influence host energy regulation. The microbiome plays a significant role in early development and function of the gut and other organs, but the specific microbes and their signaling molecules involved with these processes are not fully identified. It is also clear that one’s own health status influences the gut microbiome, but mechanisms underlying this are not clear. Metabolomics is the primary resource used to identify candidate metabolites, and these can be used to test the bioactivity of these molecules. Another key area of interest is using multivariate analyses and data mining techniques in our analysis workflow. The R statistical language is our primary tool to implement these statistical techniques because of its flexibility and ability to create interactive visualizations.

Steven Post, PhD
Pathology
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We are interested in understanding the mechanisms by which scavenger receptors regulate macrophage function in chronic inflammatory disease.

Zhiqiang Qin, PhD
Pathology
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My research interest focuses on using Kaposi?s sarcoma-related herpesvirus (KSHV) as a model pathogen to study the mechanisms of viral oncogenesis and identify the key viral and/or host factors that contribute to the pathogenesis of this oncogenic virus.

Mark Smeltzer, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
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Bacteriology, microbial pathogenesis, Staphylococcus aureus infection, orthopedic infection

Jason Stumhofer, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
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The protozoan parasite Plasmodium is the causative agent of malaria, which remains one of the most prominent public health challenges in the world today. My laboratory is interested in determining how protective antibody responses are generated and maintained in mice after Plasmodium infection, so that we can utilize this information to understand why antibody-mediated immunity is slow to develop in humans. Specifically, we are interested in understanding how memory B cells are generated and maintained after Plasmodium infection, and whether heterogeneity within the memory B cell pool contributes to functional diversity in a secondary infection.

David Ussery, PhD
Biomedical Informatics
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We are using ‘third generation sequencing technology’ (such as Oxford Nanopore flow cells) to do metagenomics of clinical isolates and environmental samples.

Daniel Voth, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
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Coxiella burnetii interaction with human macrophages

Tiffany Weinkopf, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
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According to the CDC, more than 1 billion people, or one-sixth of the world’s population, is suffering from one or more Neglected Tropical Diseases with many of these diseases affecting the poorest populations in the developing world. Our lab focuses on the parasitic disease that results from Leishmania infection. We use a combination of mouse models and in vitro culture to define the cellular and molecular mechanisms that are important in the development of disease and the resolution of inflammation. More specifically, we are interested in the balance between the vascular and immune responses that lead to parasite control and those that promote lesion pathology.

V. Laxmi Yeruva, PhD
Pediatrics
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Our research focuses on health-oriented basic and translational studies of immunity. The goal of our studies is to understand the factors that differentiate breast-feeding and formula-feeding in terms of immune system and gut functions later in life. Our lab also studies the chlamydial immunopathogenesis working towards biomarkers to predict the upper tract disease in mouse and clinical studies.

Xuming Zhang, PhD
Microbiology and Immunology
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The molecular biology of coronavirus and influenza virus, viral entry and replication, virus-host cell interaction and pathogenesis, viral vaccine and antiviral drug.

Boris Zybaylov
Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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I am interested in the role of non-canonical DNA structures and long non-coding RNAs in human disease. I am also interested in clinical applications of microbiome-derived protein biomarkers