From the Chair
The Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology (MMI) is built around scholarly activities with three important missions: cutting-edge research programs to address relevant biomedical problems in microbiology and immunology, a graduate training program to educate strong, independent research scientists, and a commitment to provide knowledge-based service to the state, national and international communities that will improve global understanding of the microbial world, infectious diseases and host immunity to infection. MMI is committed to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge in microbiology and immunology through the support of basic research and the training of new scientists.
This web site describes a dynamic and expanding academic department with faculty expertise in infectious disease and immunology research and training opportunities for graduate and post-graduate students. We invite you to browse these pages and view our exciting research and educational training programs.
The department has a long history of research excellence in microbial pathogenesis and immunology. Important institutional commitments have provided an opportunity for significant expansion over the past four years, bringing eight new tenure track faculty with innovative research programs in viral pathogenesis and immunology, with additional faculty searches opening in bacterial pathogenesis. These new investigators complement existing departmental and institutional research strengths to provide a dynamic and creative environment for interdisciplinary scientific investigation in such areas as autoimmunity, innate and acquired immunity to infectious microorganisms, design of therapeutic reagents targeted to viral and bacterial pathogens, and basic principles of microbial genetics and physiology. The growth in our talented and interactive faculty has resulted in significant recent increases in federal research support from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies, private research foundations and biomedical industry partners. These funding advances have occurred despite a slowing federal budget for biomedical research.
The research environment at MU with Colleges of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Agriculture, Engineering, and Arts and Sciences on one comprehensive campus fosters the development of interdisciplinary scientific interactions that enhance both research and training opportunities for faculty and students alike. The Bond Life Sciences Center represents such an interdisciplinary research enterprise and houses investigators from multiple colleges and departments, including MMI. Critical to the Department’s interests in infectious diseases and immunity research, the recent construction the University of Missouri Laboratory for Infectious Disease Research (LIDR) provides modern BSL3/ABSL3 containment research space and animal holding facilities for the investigation of highly infectious organisms and human select agents.
This resource, and the Department’s partnership with the Midwest Regional Center for Excellence in Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Disease Research , centered at Washington University in St. Louis, position MU in the national network of infectious disease research and training efforts. Additionally, MU has partnered with NIH to strategically invest in critical research resources, including unique resource centers for mouse, rat and swine genetic models for disease research and the development of transgenic and knockout animal strains. MU has supported the development of state of the art Research Core Facilities, providing instrumentation and high throughput capabilities in genomics, mass spectroscopy, imaging (confocal, light and electron microscopy, live animal micro-PET and micro-CT), structural biology (NMR, X-ray crystallography and access to a national synchrotron beamline) and flow cytometry. These modern, world-class facilities give MU investigators the research and training tools needed to develop nationally competitive research programs and teams.
MMI has a long history of providing graduate and postgraduate education in basic principles of microbiology and immunology, as well as research training opportunities in the laboratories of established scientists with diverse research interests. Faculty expansion has provided new curricular offers with flexibility for personalized scholarly pursuits built in. The breadth of research training includes faculty laboratories in the School of Medicine, the Bond Life Sciences Center and the College of Veterinary Medicine. The training program in microbiology and immunology is enhanced by colleagues from the Departments of Veterinary Pathobiology and Biochemistry.
Strong scientific interactions among faculty from these and other academic units across campus illustrate the importance of scientific collaborations not only in meeting the research challenges in microbiology and immunology, but also in providing a strong academic environment for the training of the next generation of scientists and educators in these disciplines . The faculty in this training program have achieved international recognition for their scientific contributions and expertise, with their research efforts published in top tier research journals and funded through stringent peer-reviewed federal grants. Many of these investigators serve on scientific review committees for these funding agencies.
All of these activities occur in a collegial department located within a thriving medical center in a “user-friendly” city in the center of Missouri. On behalf of the faculty, I encourage you to review our site and to contact us if you desire to acquire the training and experience that will enable you to make contributions to the research and teaching of microbiology and immunology in the decades to come, decades that hold tremendous promise for achieving significant biomedical and environmental advances through our interactions with the microbial world.
– Mark A. McIntosh, PhD
Professor and Chair