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 

Antimicrobial Resistance Gene Prevalence in a Population of Patients with Advanced Dementia Is Related to Specific Pathobionts
Long-term care facilities are significant reservoirs of antimicrobial-resistant organisms, and patients with advanced dementia are particularly vulnerable to multidrug-resistant organism (MDRO) acquisition and antimicrobial overuse. In this study, we longitudinally examined a group of patients with advanced dementia using metagenomic sequencing. We found significant inter- and intra-subject heterogeneity in microbiota composition, suggesting temporal instability. We also observed a link between the antimicrobial resistance gene density in a sample and the relative abundances of several pathobionts, particularly Escherichia coliProteus mirabilis, and Enterococcus faecalis, and used this relationship to predict resistance gene density in samples from additional subjects. Furthermore, we used metagenomic assembly to demonstrate that these pathobionts had higher resistance gene content than many gut commensals. Given the frequency and abundances at which these pathobionts were found in this population and the underlying vulnerability to MDRO of patients with advanced dementia, attention to microbial blooms of these species may be warranted.

Andrew G. Campbell recognized as one of 100 inspiring black scientists in America 
Andrew G. Campbell, Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of Medical Science, is one of three researchers at Brown who is being recognized as one of 100 inspiring black scienctists in America. Congratulations, Dean Campbell! 

Mae Staples awarded F31 Fellowship
Congratulations to Mae Staples who has been awarded an F31 Fellowship from the NIH for her research proposal "Transcriptional regulation of C. albicans biofilms by formation of phase-separated condensates".  This Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (NRSA) is granted to 'promising predoctoral students with potential to develop into a productive, independent research scientist, to obtain mentored research training while conducting dissertation research'.   Mae is currently a 4th-year student in the Richard Bennett lab.  

American Academy of Microbiology: 2020 Fellows
Congratulations to Professor Richard Bennett who has been elected as a Fellow into the American Academy of Microbiology.  These Fellows are elected annually through a highly selective, peer-review process, based on their records of scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced microbiology.  The 2020 Class is comprised of 68 Fellows.

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