Caption: Chlamydia (red) replicating in epithelial cells (green) of the murine female genital tract. Photo courtesy of Isabelle Derré

Chlamydia (red) replicating in epithelial cells (green) of the murine female genital tract. Photo courtesy of Isabelle Derré

We investigate the fundamental biology of bacteria, viruses, and eukaryotic pathogens, and how these organisms interact with their hosts and each other. While many host-microbe interactions are pathogenic, other interactions such as those with commensal microbiota, are host-protective.  Microbes also serve as important model systems that help us understand basic cellular functions that are relevant to human disease.  Such functions include how genes are regulated, how nucleic acids replicate, are repaired and persist in cells, how proteins and RNAs are synthesized and processed, and how they traffic.  Our mechanistic research studies lead to translational approaches, including drug discovery and vaccine development,  to identify new therapeutic modalities for both infectious and other diseases, as well as  prebiotic/probiotic treatments.

Research questions addressed in our Microbiology labs include:

  • How do microbes (viruses, bacteria, and parasites) organize and regulate their genetic material?
  • How do they persist to cause chronic disease?
  • What mechanisms do they use to successfully replicate and survive in host cells, tissues, and organisms, and what host functions are specifically targeted during productive infection?
  • How do specialized cell types respond to infection?
  • How do microbes respond to host immune pressure and surveillance?
  • How is infection affected by the microbiota or coinfecting microbes?
  • How does resistance to antimicrobial drugs occur, and how can this be overcome?

We are a highly collaborative group of scientists.  The questions we ask are enriched by dynamic interactions with the Immunology and Cancer Biology facets of the Department of MIC, and many other labs in the School of Medicine and beyond. Research opportunities in the Department are complemented by journal clubs, retreats and seminar series, throughout the School of Medicine.  NIH-sponsored training programs in Infectious Diseases, Global Biothreats, Neuroimmunology and Immunology provide support for selected graduate students. There are outstanding core facilities to enable this work and exceptional infrastructure for BSL-2 and BSL-3 research, including extensive vivarium facilities.


Herve Agaisse

Agaisse, Hervé

Genetic approaches, cellular and molecular biology of intracellular pathogen infection

Anna Cliffe

Cliffe, Anna

Herpes Simplex Virus Infection of Neurons

Alison Criss

Criss, Alison K.

Cellular and molecular mechanisms of Neisserial pathogenesis

Isabelle Derre

Derré, Isabelle

Host/pathogen Interaction - Chlamydia Infection

Daniel Engel

Engel, Daniel A.

Drug Discovery and Molecular Biology of Pathogenic RNA viruses: Ebola, SARS-CoV-2, Influenza and Zika

Sarah Ewald

Ewald, Sarah

Innate immunity, chronic disease, host-parasite interactions, Toxoplasma gondii, proteomics

Mariano Garcia-Blanco

Garcia-Blanco, Mariano A.

RNA-protein interactions in antiviral immunity and autoimmune diseases.

Young Hahn

Hahn, Young S.

Immune regulation for HCV infection and chronic liver inflammation

Marie-Louise Hammarskjold

Hammarskjöld, Marie-Louise

Post Transcriptional Gene Regulation and the Molecular Biology of Human Retroviruses

David Kashatus

Kashatus, David F

The Role of Mitochondrial Fusion and Fission in Tumorigenesis.

Dean Kedes

Kedes, Dean H.

Human Herpes virus associated with malignancy, including Kaposi's Sarcoma

Melissa Kendall

Kendall, Melissa M.

Bacterial cell signaling, host-pathogen interactions, intestinal pathogens

David Rekosh

Rekosh, David M.

Human Immunodeficiency Virus Gene Expression; Human Endogenous Viruses; SARS-CoV-2 Protein Trafficking; Post-transcriptional Gene Regulation

Melanie Rutkowski

Rutkowski, Melanie

Influence of commensal microbes on immune homeostasis, anti-tumor immunity, and metastasis

Daniel Zegarra-Ruiz

Zegarra-Ruiz, Daniel Fernando

Unraveling the role of host microbe interactions in autoimmune diseases