Department of Microbiology and Immunology



Steven L. Bachenheimer (30) Molecular Biology of Herpesviruses

*Ralph Baric (76) Molecular Mechanisms of Virus Cross-Species Transmissibility and Systems Genetics and Pathogenesis

Robert Bourret (64) Signal Transduction in Bacteria

Miriam Braunstein (80) Bacterial Pathogenesis, Molecular Genetics, Tuberculosis

*Wesley Burks, Allergic Diseases, Mechanisms and Immunotherapy

*Bruce Cairns (93) Immune Response to Injury, Cellular Immunology, Transplantation

*Myron S. Cohen (55) Biology and Epidemiology of Transmission of STD Pathogens (Including HIV)

Peggy Cotter (97) Microbial Pathogenesis, Molecular Genetics, Protein Secretion

Blossom Damania (79) Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV/HHV-8), Rhesus Monkey Rhadinovirus (RRV)

*Jeff Dangl (87) Plant Genetics, plant microbiome, Plant Disease Resistance and Cell Death Control, Bacterial Type III Secretion Systems

*Toni Darville, Chlamydia Trachomatis Pathogenesis and Immune Protective Mechanisms 

Aravinda de Silva (73) Arthropod Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases and Microbial Pathogenesis

Dirk Dittmer (88) West Nile Virus (WNV) and Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus (KSHV/HHV-8)

Gianpietro Dotti

*Mark Heise (83) Molecular Genetics of Viral Pathogenesis

*J. Victor Garcia-Martinez (101) Viral Pathogenesis/Immunology, Humanized Mice, HIV/AIDS

*Peter H. Gilligan (51) Bacterial Toxins, Clinical Microbiology

Jack Griffith (35) Chromosome Structure: Viruses and Their Host Cells

William E. Goldman (95) Pathogenesis of Respiratory Tract Infections: Histoplasmosis, Pertussis, and Plague

Thomas Kawula (63) Bacterial Genetics, Microbial Pathogenesis

*Stanley M. Lemon (59) Molecular Virology, Innate Immunity, Viral Carcinogenesis

*Zhi Liu (91) Biochemistry, Cell Biology, and Immunology of Hemidesmosome and Basement Membrane

*David M. Margolis (90) Regulation of Gene Expression, Molecular Biology of Retroviruses, HIV Pathogenesis

*Steven R. Meshnick (81) Malaria and Tick-borne Diseases , Molecular Epidemiology, Pathogenesis, Drug Resistance

*Virginia L. Miller (96) Molecular and Genetic Analysis of Microbial Pathogenesis, Virulence Gene Regulation, Host-Pathogen Interactions

*Robert A. Nicholas (94) Antibiotic Resistance Mechanisms, Bacterial Genetics, Neisseria gonorrhoeae

*Joseph S. Pagano (14) Epstein-Barr Virus and Ubiquitin-Proteasomal Systems, Interferon Regulatory Factors, Invasion and Metastasis and Antiviral Drugs

*David Peden, Translational and Clinical Research in Environmental Lung Disease

*Matthew Redinbo, Structural and Chemical Biology of Host-Pathogen Contacts

Nancy Raab-Traub (52) Molecular Virology and Oncogenesis

*Howard M. Reisner (32) Immunogenetics of Human Plasma Proteins (Particularly IgG and Coagulant Factors VII and IX)

*R. Balfour Sartor (77) Etiology and Pathogenesis of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Especially Crohn's Disease and Associated Extraintestinal Manifestations)

*Jonathan Serody (82) Transplantation and Tumor Immunology

Lishan Su (71) Immune Development, Viral Pathogenesis

*Ronald Swanstrom (74) Molecular Biology and Pathogenesis of HIV

*Jenny P. Ting (50) Molecular Immunology, Transcription, Signal Transduction, Apoptosis, Neuroimmunology, Transplantation

Roland Tisch (70) Immune Tolerance, T-Cell Antigen Recognition, T-Cell Mediated Autoimmunity, Tumor Antigen-Specific Genetic Vaccines, Type 1 Diabetes

*William J. Yount (25) Genetic Control of Antibody Response and Gamma Globulin Synthesis in Humans

Associate Professors

*Cornelus Beckers, Motility and Signal Transduction in Toxoplasma and Plasmodium

*Christina Burch, Experimental Studies of Evolution using Viruses

Edward J. Collins (69) Immune Recognition, T-Cell Activation, Host-Pathogen Interactions

Kristina DeParis (98) Neonatal/Pediatric Immunology; Pathogenesis of Infectious Diseases; HIV and Co-Infections

*Ilona Jaspers (106), Respiratory Viruses, Host Innate Defense in the Respiratory Mucosa, Virus-Host Cell Interaction, Epithelial-Immune Cell Interaction, Environmental Effects

Tal Kafri, Development of HIV-Based Vector for Gene Therapy, the Epigenetics of HIV and HIV-1 Vectors, the Basic Biology of Nonintegrating HIV-1 and HIV-1 Vectors

*Silva Markovic-Plese, Autoimmune Response in Multiple Sclerosis, New Immunomodulatory Therapies

Glenn Matsushima (68) Molecular Neuroimmunology, Innate Immunity

Raymond Pickles (86) Respiratory Viruses, Host Innate Defense in the Airway, Virus-Host Cell Interactions, Gene Therapy for Cystic Fibrosis and Other Lung Diseases

Barbara J. Vilen (78) Molecular Immunology, Signal Transduction, and B Cell Tolerance

*Jennifer Webster-Cyriaque (84) Oral Manifestations of Systemic Disease, Host-Virus Interactions, Viral Oncogenesis, Viral Pathogenesis during Immunosuppression, Signal Transduction, Cellular Biology, Gene Expression

Matthew C. Wolfgang (89) Microbial Pathogenesis, Bacterial Gene Regulation, Host-Pathogen Interactions

Yisong Wan (103) Regulatory T Cell and TGF-Beta Signaling Controlled T Cell Function under Normal and Pathological Conditions

Assistant Professors

Nilu Goonetilleke, T Cell Immunology, HIV-1 Immunobiology

*Jonathan Hansen (110) Pathogenesis of Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis, Host-Commensal Interactions

*Matthew Hirsch, AAV Gene Therapy, Gene Editing, Cellular Response to Foreign DNA

Edward Miao (107) Innate Immune Detection of Microbial Virulence

Cary Moody (103) Pathogenesis of Human Papillomaviruses

Nathaniel Moorman (104) Molecular Virology, Host Pathogen Interactions, HCMV Pathogenesis

Uma Nagarajan, Innate Immune Response to Chlamydia Infection and Its Role in Pathogenesis

*Elizabeth Shank (111) Microbial Interactions

*Maureen Su, (108) Autoimmune Polyendocrinopathy Syndrome Type 1, Chronic Inflammatory Demyelinating Polyneuropathy, Diabetes

Rita Tamayo (100) Microbial Pathogenesis, Bacterial Genetics, Bacterial Gene Regulation

*Teresa Tarrant (109) Leukocyte Trafficking, Kinase Regulation of Chemokine Receptors, Inflammatory Models of Autoimmunity and Cancer

*Jason Whitmire, Viral Immunology, Memory T Cell Differentiation, Vaccines, Inflammation, Microbial Immunology

Research Professors

Nancy C. Fisher, Flow Cytometry

*Marcia M. Hobbs, Pathogenesis of Nonviral Sexually Transmitted Infections (Trichomonas vaginalis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae) and Molecular Diagnostics

Barbara Savoldo

Research Associate Professors

Ruth Silversmith, Bacterial Chemotaxis, Mechanisms of Phosphotransfer Reactions

Bo Wang, Autoimmune Pathogenesis snd Immunotherapy of Type 1 Diabetes

Research Assistant Professors

Janelle Arthur, Microbiome, Intestinal Inflammation, Colorectal Cancer 

W. June Brickey, Host Immune Responses, Radiation Injury, Expression Profiling

*Robert Maile, Cellular Immunology, Burn Immunology, Transplantation, T Cell Regulation, Bacterial and Viral Infectivity

Karen McKinnon, Dendritic Cell Induction of Tumor Specific CD4 and CD8 T Lymphocytes

Julie A.E. Nelson, Molecular Virology, HIV Evolution and Pathogenesis, HCV Co-Infection, HIV Assay Development and HIV Clinical Trial Virology

Sang-Hoon Sin, Mouse Models of Viral Lymphoma

Kimberly Walker, Microbial Pathogenesis, Bacterial Gene Regulation 

Christopher Whitehurst, Epstein-Barr Virus, Ubiquitination/Deubiqutination Processes

Adjunct Professor

Stephen H. Clarke Mechanisms of B Cell Tolerance and Autoimmunity, Human Autoimmune Translational Research

Professors Emeriti

Kenneth F. Bott

Janne G. Cannon

Marshall H. Edgell

Susan A. Fiscus

Jeffrey A. Frelinger

Harry Gooder

Jean Handy

Eng Shang Huang

Clyde A. Hutchison III

Robert E. Johnston

David G. Klapper

John E. Newbold

John H. Schwab

*P. Frederick Sparling

Robert Twarog

* joint faculty members

The Department of Microbiology and Immunology, an administrative division of the School of Medicine, is a unit of The Graduate School. It offers instruction leading to the doctor of philosophy degree. A terminal Master of Science degree is granted only under special conditions. The department is highly regarded in many scientific disciplines, including immunology, microbial pathogenesis, virology, infectious diseases, host/pathogen interactions, molecular genetics, prokaryotic and eukaryotic molecular and cellular biology, and cancer biology.. Research in the department is supported by funds from the University, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and other private foundations and granting agencies.

For detailed information, visit the department's Web site at

Program of Study

As is the case for all graduate students in the basic science departments of the UNC School of Medicine, education during the first year is under the guidance of the interdisciplinary Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP). Students rotate through three different research laboratories of their choosing in year one. For students interested in microbiology and immunology, recommended classroom courses include Immunobiology (MCRO 614), Virology (MCRO 630), Microbial Pathogenesis I (MCRO 635), and Microbial Pathogenesis II (MCRO 640).

Upon choosing a dissertation lab and joining the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, students are provided with an outstanding learning environment, an opportunity to conduct cutting-edge research, and most importantly, thorough preparation for a successful career in science. The Microbiology and Immunology Ph.D. program is designed to provide a foundation of fundamental knowledge in modern microbiology and immunology, foster critical scientific thinking, develop written and oral communication skills, allow students to gain teaching experience, and offer opportunities to travel and present posters or talks at national meetings. Specific components of the Microbiology and Immunology Ph.D. training program include:

Students must regularly attend weekly student and departmental seminars (MCRO 701) beginning in year two and present their research annually in the student seminar series beginning in year three.

Students act as a Teaching Assistant for two semesters in department-approved courses, typically in years two and three.

Students form a dissertation committee in the middle of year three, obtain approval of their dissertation project, and meet annually with their committee to discuss research progress. Completion of sufficient original research for at least two first author papers in high-quality peer reviewed journals is expected. As a minimum standard, to earn the Ph.D. degree we require that (i) a student must make meaningful contributions to and be an author on at least two manuscripts intended for publication in respected, high-quality professional journals or books, (ii) at least one of the two manuscripts must be accepted for publication, and (iii) prior to the private Ph.D. defense, a student must have peer reviews returned for at least one first (or co-first) author primary research manuscript.

Research Environment

The Department of Microbiology and Immunology consists of approximately 60 faculty members with active research laboratories, 70 graduate students, 60 postdoctoral scientists, 50 research staff, and 7 administrative staff, who together form a highly interactive, friendly, and collaborative community.

The department occupies the entire 6th floor (~25,000 net square feet) of the new Marsico Hall, as well as the recently renovated 9th floor of the Burnett-Womack building. A significant number of faculty who hold primary appointments in the department have laboratories in the nearby Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, as well as other departments within the Schools of Medicine and Public Health.

A wide variety of modern equipment is available in individual laboratories or shared by multiple users throughout the department. Well-equipped research laboratories are supplemented by specialized rooms dedicated to tissue culture, controlled temperature environments, BSL3 physical containment for research on microbial select agents, supervised animal care, etc. In addition, the University operates an extensive network of core facilities with major equipment and expert support staff, including flow cytometry, genomics, proteomics, oligonucleotide synthesis, DNA sequencing, X-ray crystallography, NMR, animal models (transgenic mouse and embryonic stem cell services), animal histopathology, bioinformatics, gene chips, confocal microscopy, electron microscopy, and mass spectrometry.

The department is fully supplied with high-speed Internet connections (both wired and wireless). University libraries provide electronic access to thousands of professional journals.


Students seeking admission to the Department of Microbiology and Immunology apply to BBSP, a common portal by which students interested in any of the 14 participating graduate programs begin their studies at UNC. To apply, visit and, fill out the online application, and select Microbiology and Immunology as your first choice of interest.

Financial Assistance

All Ph.D. students making satisfactory degree progress receive a stipend plus in-state tuition, fees, and health insurance. Funds are available from individual research grants, training grants, the department, and the University. Students are encouraged to apply for a pre-doctoral fellowship from the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, or other organizations.

Courses for Graduate and Advanced Undergraduate Students


449 Introduction to Immunology (BIOL 449) (3). See BIOL 449 for description.

515 Introduction to Microbiology (4). Open only to dental students. A course covering basic aspects of microbiology and immunology including sterilization, action of antimicrobial chemotherapeutic agents, concepts of infection and immunity, and the study of certain selected infectious agents.

614 Immunobiology (3). A strong background in molecular biology, eukaryotic genetics, and biochemistry is required. Advanced survey course with topics that include molecular recognition, genetic mechanisms of host resistance, development of cells and cell interactions; hypersensitivity, autoimmunity, and resistance to infection. Course material from textbook and primary literature.

630 Virology (3). Required preparation, coursework in molecular biology and cell biology. Current concepts of the chemistry, structure, replication, genetics, and the natural history of animal viruses and their host cells.

631 Advanced Molecular Biology I (BIOC 631, BIOL 631, GNET 631) (3). See GNET 631 for description.

632 Advanced Molecular Biology II (BIOC 632, BIOL 632, GNET 632) (3). See GNET 632 for description.

635 Microbial Pathogenesis I (3). Permission of the instructor. Required preparation, coursework in molecular biology and genetics. Topics will include aspects of basic bacteriology as well as bacterial and fungal pathogens and mechanisms of disease.

640 Microbial Pathogenesis II (3). Permission of the instructor or a fundamental understanding of molecular virology and immunology. Molecular pathogenesis, with a primary focus on viral pathogens. Additional topics include vaccines and genetics of host-pathogen interactions.

643 Cell Structure, Function, and Growth Control I (BIOC 643, CBIO 643, PHCO 643, PHYI 643) (3). See CBIO 643 for description.

644 Cell Structure, Function, and Growth Control II (BIOC 644, CBIO 644, PHCO 644, PHYI 644) (3). See CBIO 644 for description.

690 Special Topics in Microbiology or Immunology (1–21). Permission of the department except for department majors. Designed to introduce the student to research methods. Minor investigative problems are conducted with advice and guidance of the staff. Hours and credit to be arranged, any term. May be repeated for credit two or more semesters.

Courses for Graduates


701 Seminar in Microbiology and Immunology (1). Faculty and student seminars on current research in microbiology and immunology.

702 Seminar in Microbiology (1). Seminar on selected topics in microbiology.

710 Seminar/Tutorial in Prokaryotic Molecular Biology (1–21). One or two faculty and a small number of students will consider current research of importance in depth. Emphasis is on current literature, invited speakers, etc., rather than textbooks.

711 Seminar/Tutorial in Animal Virology (1–21). One or two faculty and a small number of students consider current research of importance in depth. Emphasis is on current literature, invited speakers, etc., rather than textbooks.

712 Seminar/Tutorial in Immunology (1–21). One or two faculty and a small number of students consider current research of importance in depth. Emphasis is on current literature, invited speakers, etc., rather than textbooks.

790 Directed Readings in Prokaryotic Molecular Biology (1). Permission of the instructor or one prior prokaryotic molecular biology course. Directed readings in prokaryotic molecular biology under the direction of a member of the graduate faculty. May be repeated for credit.

791 Directed Readings in Virology (1). Permission of the instructor or one prior virology course. Directed readings in virology under the direction of a member of the graduate faculty. May be repeated for credit.

792 Directed Readings in Immunology (1). Permission of the instructor or one prior immunology course. Directed readings in immunology under the direction of a member of the graduate faculty. May be repeated for credit.

795 Research Concepts (2). Permission of the instructor. This course will provide multiple opportunities for the student to write parts of hypothesis-based proposals, receive substantial feedback, and to rewrite the text. There will be approximately twelve single-page writing assignments.

901 Research in Microbiology or Immunology (1–21). Permission of the department. Designed to introduce the student to research methods and special techniques. Short-term problems are conducted with the advice and guidance of the staff. May be repeated for credit.

993 Master's Research and Thesis (3).

994 Doctoral Research and Dissertation (3).