Welcome to the Department of MMI

The Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology's (MMI) mission is to maintain active and integrated research programs that study the interactions between microbes and their hosts. The goal is to understand how these influence the outcome of infection and disease progression. Current research interests in the department include understanding host signaling in response to viral infection, molecular mechanisms of NK and NK T cell activation, and molecular principles underlying fungal pathogenesis. This work provides an interdisciplinary structure for our training programs.

MMI supports undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral education in the areas of microbiology and immunology. Departmental instruction includes lecture courses, seminar courses, and laboratory research (both undergraduate independent study and graduate thesis). We foster collaborative studies within the department as well as with faculty in other departments, both on campus and hospital-based.

MMI News

Xu to ‘Leverage’ Research Via Open Graduate Education
Yun “Ryan” Xu, a PhD candidate studying post-trauma pneumonia, wants to do more than understand why it occurs. “My motivation is real-life impact,” he says. “I want to leverage lab experience to bring something to patients to promote health care.” For Xu and 41 other current doctoral students, the Open Graduate Education program is a vehicle to combine studies in unique ways to achieve their goals and to earn a secondary master’s degree. Applications for the sixth cohort are due February 10, 2017.

The Influence of Programmed Cell Death in Myeloid Cells on Host Resilience to Infection with Legionella pneumophila or Streptococcus pyogenes 
Pathogens are microbes that can cause harm to the host if not properly controlled, therefore pathogen clearance is an essential part of survival of all multi-cellular organisms. Equally important factors in survival are host resilience mechanisms, or host processes that increase survival independent of pathogen burden. This study examines the multiple roles that cells of the innate (or early) immune response play in both pathogen clearance and host resilience in response to both systemic and pulmonary pathogens.

Phenotypic Profiling Reveals that Candida albicans Opaque Cells Represent a Metabolically Specialized Cell State Compared to Default White Cells 
Many cells can undergo epigenetic, heritable transitions without changes in the primary DNA sequence, and such transitions are a key source of heterogeneity in the microbial world. This type of heterogeneity is an effective strategy for microbes to deal with dynamic environments, where alternative cell states may be optimized for different conditions.

Art of Science 2016 
MMI's Holly Tran won third place in the Art of Science 2016 with her piece "of Gold". The aim of this project is to facilitate the sharing of research between members of the Brown Biological and Medical community. This is an opportunity to share the sense of wonder and creativity which drives your science, but often goes unacknowledged.

A Multistate Toggle Switch Defines Fungal Cell Fates and Is Regulated by Synergistic Genetic Cues-PLoS Genetics 
Epigenetic transitions are responsible for the ability of cells to undergo heritable changes in cell type without an underlying change in the primary DNA sequence. Such transitions accompany development in multicellular organisms, as well as the reprogramming of differentiated somatic cells into pluripotent stem cells. Genetic regulation of cell fates is determined by transcription factors that act in inter-connected circuits to drive lineage-specific gene expression. Chromatin-based cues also play key roles in epigenetic inheritance, including post-translational histone modifications and remodeling of chromatin structure.

Is science only for the rich? 
Around the world, poverty and social background remain huge barriers in scientific careers. Andrew G. Campbell, Ph. D., Dean of the Graduate School, weighs in on how class divisions are reflected in student populations at the university level in this Nature article.

Recent graduate's research honored as best in category for U.S. and Canada 
With the top research paper among North American undergraduates in his discipline, Brown University Class of 2016 graduate Alexander Blum earned honors as the 2016 United States/Canada regional winner of the prestigious Undergraduate Awards in the category of earth and environmental sciences.


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