Microbe-Host Interactions Ph.D. Program

Through new discoveries and state-of-the-science training of future scientists, the Microbe-Host Interactions Ph.D. graduate program strives to be a world-class center of excellence in biomedical research. The program’s mission evolved from the realization that while we cannot imagine our global village without germs, we can imagine a world without preventable and treatable microbial diseases. Our focus is to train students to define the interactions between microbes—specifically, bacteria and viruses—and their host organisms that lead to disease or promote health.

Researchers in the Microbe-Host Interactions (MHI) program, supported by the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, have developed innovative in vivo and in vitro systems to study basic mechanisms of bacterial and viral pathogenesis. A key direction in the Department is to use the information garnered from mammalian and microbial genomes projects to identify new genes that control the infection process and affect clinical outcomes.

The MHI program is designed to equip each student with an in-depth understanding of their particular discipline (e.g. bacterial pathogenesis or virus replication), while imparting a knowledge of host biology sufficient for understanding pathogen-host interactions. As a research training program, MHI emphasizes training in the fundamental principles that underlie hypothesis-driven research. The program also offers numerous opportunities to attend seminars by world-class researchers and to discuss recent scientific developments in various journal clubs.

  • The Microbe-Host Interactions (MHI) Ph.D. program was conceived in 2016, with its inaugural class joining in 2017. MHI was born out of the former Microbiology and Immunology Ph.D. program, which operated since its founding in the early 1990s. The goal of the MHI program is to train aspiring scientists with interests in the area of the biochemistry and molecular and cell biology of microbes, including bacteria and viruses. While much of the research in faculty laboratories is on interactions of pathogens with their hosts, the program also encompasses research in microbiomes, including normal host flora. The program also trains students whose research interests include immune control of infections. Students interested aspects of immunology and pathology distinct from microbial infections are encouraged to undertake their training in our sister program, Molecular Pathology and Immunology (MPI).