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Bacteriology first emerged in the curriculum of Carolina’s nascent School of Medicine in 1896, when a course in pathology, which included an introduction to medical bacteriology, was introduced. In 1923, Dr. Daniel A. MacPherson joined the faculty as an instructor in bacteriology, with the charge to establish bacteriology as a separate department. This was accomplished in 1929, and inaugurated as the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology. In the 1980s the name was changed again to the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

In its over 80-year history, the Department has focused on a commitment to excellence in the teaching and training of scientists and medical practitioners. In 1984, the Department received its first NIH T32 award to develop and enhance research training opportunities for our students. Department faculty now participate in T32s with training emphasis on Virology, Microbial Pathogenesis, Sexually Transmitted Pathogens, Immunology, and Cancer. Of the doctoral candidates and postdocs who have received training from these grants, 80% continue in active, independent research careers, either in academia or industry. Because of our faculty affiliations throughout the Medical School, other schools within Health Affairs and across the campus, there are numerous opportunities for collaborations that result in joint publications between labs. As a department within the Medical School, there are opportunities to interact with physicians and to work on research projects that have the possibility of making a direct impact on human health and the practice of medicine.

Facts and Rankings:

“$24.4M in NIH grants (FY16) – 2nd in the nation among medical school microbiology departments
~60 Graduate Training Faculty
~60 Pre-doctoral candidates
~90 Post-doctoral trainees”

Faculty laboratories are organized under one of three departmental research programs: ImmunologyMicrobial Interactions, and Virology. Each laboratory is headed by an independent faculty member pursuing his or her own research interests in collaboration with postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. While the laboratories are categorized under these topical research areas, there is considerable overlap of interest amongst the faculty and their individual research initiatives. This cross-fertilization of concepts, techniques, and ideas is supplemented by a regular Seminar Series as well as a Student Seminar Series in which graduate students present the results of their research efforts to faculty and other graduate students.

The goal of our graduate training program is to familiarize students with experimental approaches and methodologies of not only their chosen field of interest, but also the broad cross section of molecular biology, virology, cell biology, biochemistry, genetics, microbiology and immunology that is represented in the Department as a whole.

Research Facilities

The Department currently occupies approximately 25,000 square feet of the new Marsico Hall. A significant number of faculty who hold primary appointments in the department have laboratories housed in the adjacent Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center as well other departments within the Schools of MedicineDentistryPublic Health, and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Large, well-equipped research laboratories are supplemented by dedicated tissue culture suites, microscopy rooms, warm and cold rooms, shared equipment rooms, supervised animal care facilities, and containment facilities for research involving Biosafety Level 3 pathogens.

In addition, the University provides access to over 80 technology core facilities with major equipment and expertise including structural biology, animal histopathology, proteomics and genomics, bioinformatics, animal models (transgenic mouse and embryonic stem cell services), flow cytometry, and imaging.