Department of Microbiology & Immunology
Professor and Chair
James B. Kaper, PhD
Training in microbiology and immunology within the medical school curriculum occurs primarily during the sophomore year when all students are required to take the integrated course on Host Defenses and Infectious Diseases (HDID). Emphasis is placed on basic mechanisms of immunity and immunopathology, principles of microbiology, medical aspects of infectious diseases and related concepts of pathology, pharmacology and epidemiology. The course includes lectures, small-group instruction for case studies and for the discussion of medically-relevant papers, and laboratory demonstrations. The HDID block is taught by basic scientists and clinical investigators to provide an integrated, medically-relevant curriculum.
In addition, selected Graduate School courses are available to medical students in all years. Individual faculty members are available to provide instructions and guidance throughout the medical curriculum. The department also offers the PhD degree and encourages students to enroll in the MD/PhD program.
The research programs within the Department of Microbiology and Immunology are oriented toward the molecular biology of infectious agents, foreign invader-host cell interactions and the molecular and cellular analysis of the immune response. Specific projects in immunology and cell biology include studies on innate immunity, molecular analysis of immunoglobulin and T-cell receptor genes; lymphocyte activation, differentiation and ontogeny; autoimmune diseases and immunology of aging; and cellular and viral oncogenes. Projects on microbial disease mechanisms include studies on regulation of gene expression in procaryotic and eukaryotic systems, molecular genetics of pathogenic bacteria, pathogenesis of vector-borne infectious agents, new strategies for development of vaccines, and genomic & microbiomic studies. The research on vaccine design is carried out jointly with the Center for Vaccine Development. Genomic and microbiomic studies are conducted jointly with the Institute for Genome Sciences. Studies on latent virus infections, including immunodeficiency viruses (HIV) and herpes viruses, are carried out jointly with the Institute of Human Virology. Medical students are encouraged to participate in elective research programs of their interests.
Undergraduate Medical Program
Microbiology and immunology faculty have major teaching responsibility in the second year, integrated course on Host Defenses and Infectious Diseases (HDID). This is the first teaching block of the second year and is approximately 11 weeks in duration. The HDID teaching block includes the relevant aspects of pathophysiology, pharmacotherapeutics and epidemiology. A number of Graduate School courses are available to qualified students. Interested students should contact the department for details.