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.

Save the Date! 

Nov. 30th at 4pm

The 54th Annual Charles A. Stuart Memorial Lecture

Lora Hooper, Ph. D.
Professor and Chair of the Department of Immunology
UT Southwestern Medical Center 
Howard Hughes Medical Center
"The gut microbiome: a master regulator of metabolism"

Hosted by Shipra Vaishnava, Ph. D.


MMI News

Exceptional research earns DARPA fellowships for four young faculty

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded four Brown University faculty members with Director’s Fellowships, which are given to the top performers among agency’s Young Faculty Award recipients. Among these is MMI's own Amanda Jamieson, who has been highlighted for her work and awarded a Director's Fellowship which allows for a third year of funding. 

Ptpn11 deletion in CD4+ cells does not affect T cell development and functions but causes cartilage tumors in a T cell independent manner

The ubiquitously expressed tyrosine phosphatase SHP-2 (encoded by Ptpn11) is required for constitutive cellular processes including proliferation, differentiation, and the regulation of immune responses. During development and maturation, subsets of T cells express a variety of inhibitory receptors known to associate with phosphatases, which in turn, dephosphorylate key players of activating receptor signaling pathways. We hypothesized that SHP-2 deletion would have major effects on T cell development by altering the thresholds for activation, as well as positive and negative selection.


Parasex Generates Phenotypic Diversity de Novoand Impacts Drug Resistance and Virulence in Candida albicans

Candida albicans is a diploid fungus that is a frequent cause of mucosal and systemic infections in humans. This species exhibits an unusual parasexual cycle in which mating produces tetraploid cells that undergo a non-meiotic program of concerted chromosome loss to return to a diploid or aneuploid state. In this work, we used a multipronged approach to examine the capacity of parasex to generate diversity in C. albicans. 

The salivary microbiome is consistent between subjects and resistant to impacts of short-term hospitalization

In recent years, a growing amount of research has begun to focus on the oral microbiome due to its links with health and systemic disease.  Previous studies have demonstrated that the gut microbiome is extremely sensitive to short-term hospitalization and that these changes are associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Here, we present a comprehensive pipeline for reliable bedside collection, sequencing, and analysis of the human salivary microbiome. We also develop a novel oral-specific mock community for pipeline validation. 

Matthew Hirakawa receives the Joukowsky Family Foundation Outstanding Dissertation Award

Congratulations to Matthew Hirakawa on receiving the Joukowsky Family Foundation Outstanding Dissertation Award for this thesis titled "Intra-species variation and parasexual reproduction in Candida albicans"! This award is granted to only four Ph. D. candidates each year, each representing the four academic disciplines. Matthew will receive this award at this year's Commencement exercises. 


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