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  • Kizzmekia Corbett awarded Off-Campus Dissertation Research Fellowship

    Congratulations to M&I graduate student Kizzi Corbett for winning this UNC fellowship that will support her research in Sri Lanka this Spring! For the past 12 years, the de Silva laboratory has been collaborating with investigators in Sri Lanka to study the epidemiology of dengue, the most significant mosquito-borne viral infection of humans. For her … Read more

  • ASCB selects Victor Garcia for the 2013 E.E. Just Award

    At the December 15, 2013 American Society for Cell Biology Annual Meeting, Victor Garcia will receive an award in memory of Ernest Everett Just (1883-1941), the pioneering African-American scientist. Victor will deliver the E.E. Just Lecture in New Orleans during the ASCB Annual Meeting and a reflective article on his life and his research has … Read more

  • Yisong Wan awarded Jefferson-Pilot Fellowship in Academic Medicine

    Yisong Wan won this prestigious award established by the UNC Medical Foundation through the generosity of the Jefferson-Pilot Corporation. This annual award is given to junior faculty members at the School of Medicine in recognition of both past performance and future promise in research. M&I faculty who have received this award during the past 40 … Read more

  • Goldman lab: Identifying the players in pneumonic plague

    The Goldman lab’s work to pinpoint the pulmonary cellular targets of Yersinia pestis – and to understand the role of these host cells in disease — was recently published in PLOS Pathogens. Also check out this nicely written article by freelance science journalist Dyani Lewis, Why the Plague is so deadly, still.

  • Wolfgang lab: Discovery of a new hierarchical regulatory cascade in Pseudomonas

      In September, PNAS Early Edition featured a paper from Matt Wolfgang’s lab describing the identification of RsmF, a member of the CsrA family of regulatory proteins. They demonstrate how RsmF and another CsrA family member, RsmA, function as dual post-transcriptional regulators to modulate biofilm formation by Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Postdoc Jeremiah Marden is co-first author … Read more

  • Baric lab: Molecular genetic tools for understanding Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus

    The October 1st edition of PNAS features a paper from Ralph Baric’s lab introducing a cassette-based infectious cDNA clone of MERS-CoV, an important first step in understanding viral replication and pathogenesis of this emerging pathogen. See the article at the link below. Reverse genetics with a full-length infectious cDNA of the Middle…

  • Miao lab: A new pathway for sensing internal trouble

    Science Magazine recently featured a study from Ed Miao’s lab on how bacterial endotoxin is detected if it enters the cytoplasmic compartment of mammalian cells. The paper shows that caspase-11 is activated by cytoplasmic endotoxin and describes how certain pathogens can avoid cytoplasmic detection by modifying their LPS. The implications of this TLR4-indepedent response to … Read more

  • Jory Weintraub: Careers in science outreach

      The September TIBBS Times newsletter features M&I alumnus Jory Weintraub, who recently talked at a TIBBS Career Networking Lunch talks about working in science outreach. See page 7 at the link below. Also in this month’s newsletter: An article by M&I student Megan Meyer about another Career Networking Lunch on industry postdoc opportunities (p. … Read more

  • Fall 2013 – M&I Seminar Series

    Our Department’s weekly seminar series re-starts on August 27 with a seminar by virus hunter Ian Lipkin ( The Tuesday series features 30 speakers from 24 different institutions, with topics balanced among the major research areas of the Department. Thanks to those of you who contributed ideas for great speakers and volunteered to serve as … Read more

  • Kawula lab: How Francisella benefits from inducing host cell autophagy

    PLOS Pathogens recently published a paper from Tom Kawula’s lab demonstrating that non-canonical autophagy provides a source of amino acids for Francisella tularensis. This provides a novel explanation for how these bacteria proliferate in what is typically thought to be a nutrient-limited intracellular environment. M&I graduate students Shaun Steele and Jason Brunton are co-first authors, … Read more

  • New BBSP website features past and present M&I students

    The beautifully re-designed website for UNC’s Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program features interviews with Rodrigo Gonzalez (graduate student in Virginia Miller’s lab) and Bonnie Gunn (former graduate student in Mark Heise’s lab).

  • Baric lab: Identifying host pathways that regulate disease outcomes

    A recent article in mBio, ASM’s open access journal, is from Ralph Baric’s lab and describes a systems biology approach that combines transcriptomics, proteomics, and comparative biology to understand the mechanisms of acute lung injury. The result is identification and validation that the urokinase pathway has a major role in SARS-CoV pathogenesis. Postdoc Lisa Gralinski … Read more

  • July 2013: M&I research featured at five international conferences

    M&I was well-represented in the programming of at least five international meetings. The FASEB Summer Research Conference on Autoimmunity was held in Saxtons River, Vermont. Jenny Ting spoke on “NLRs in Immunity and Beyond.” (Conference organizer Rachel Caspi will be one of our M&I seminar speakers in September.) The 38th Annual International Herpesvirus Workshop was … Read more

  • Dittmer lab: Candidate biomarkers for viral cancers

    In the July 18 issue of PLOS Pathogens, Dirk Dittmer’s lab profiles circulating microRNAs associated with KSHV pathogenesis, revealing the potential of miRNA analysis for the diagnosis of diseases like Kaposi’s sarcoma and Primary Effusion Lymphoma. Postdoc Pauline Chugh is the first author on this paper, and collaborators include M&I faculty Blossom Damania, Jack Griffith … Read more

  • Raab-Traub lab: How oncogenic herpesviruses affect the tumor microenvironment

    The July 2nd “Early Edition” of PNAS included an article from Nancy Raab-Traub’s lab that describes the impact of EBV and KSHV on the proteomes of B-cell exosomes. Postdoc David Meckes (first author) was selected to give a talk about this work at the 38th Annual International Herpesvirus Workshop. Access the article through PubMed.

  • July 12th Reception honoring Virginia Miller

    From Terry Magnuson, Vice Dean for Research: After a productive and successful tenure as Associate Dean and Director of the Office of Graduate Education (OGE), Dr. Virginia Miller has elected to step down to devote her full effort to her research program in the Departments of Genetics and Microbiology & Immunology. Virginia was recruited to … Read more

  • Bruce Alexander Retires after 18 Years in M&I

    In 1995, Bruce Alexander was hired by M&I to manage the medical microbiology laboratory sessions, and his role in the Department’s teaching enterprise has been expanding ever since then. Bruce has been serving as the coordinator for the first year medical student microbiology/immunology course; supervising the TAs and staff of the laboratory sessions for medical, … Read more

  • UNC News article about the NC DNA Day 5K run . . .

    … with quotes from organizer Cheryl Miller (M&I student).

  • Congratulations to Rita Tamayo, 2013 Simmons Scholar

    The UNC Simmons Scholar Program announced in April that M&I Assistant Professor Rita Tamayo will receive one of their career development awards. Originally established in 1994 by Dean Michael Simmons, this program has many goals, including recruitment of talented and diverse faculty members as well as salary support for junior faculty who will serve as … Read more

  • Roland Tisch receives 2013 JDRF Living & Giving Award

    Congratulations to M&I Professor Roland Tisch, who was presented with the Living & Giving Award at The Hope Gala on April 27. This prestigious charity event is sponsored by the regional chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to raise funds for type 1 diabetes research. The annual award recognizes “outstanding community leaders who have … Read more

  • Wan lab: The role of GATA-3 in mature T cells

    If you heard Yisong Wan’s talk at the M&I Symposium on May 16, you had a nice preview of his paper now appearing as an Advance Online Publication in Nature Immunology. Go to PubMed to check out the article that demonstrates a fundamental role for transcription factor GATA-3 in T cell function.

  • Welcome, new 2013 M&I graduate students!

    It’s that time of year when most first-year BBSP students select a dissertation lab and a graduate program, having completed at least three rotations. On May 23rd, fourteen BBSP presented their most recent rotation research at an all-afternoon symposium. Afterwards, department faculty and students welcomed them at a reception – many thanks to Michelle Palacios … Read more

  • News and Photos from the M&I Symposium and Alumni Reunion

    Great to see so many of you at our first M&I Symposium and Alumni Reunion on May 16th! Fifty alumni joined more than 170 students, postdocs, faculty, staff, and colleagues with current or past connections to our Department. The program’s 13 talks – six by alumni and seven by M&I junior faculty – were followed … Read more

  • Congratulations to M&I 2012-2013 Graduates!

    Twelve M&I graduate students completed their PhD work during this past academic year. Below is a short summary of the doctoral work and current activities/plans: Aadra Bhatt completed her PhD in May 2013 in Blossom Damania’s lab, working on Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesviral cancers with an emphasis on signaling and metabolism. She will perform a short … Read more

  • Kari Debbink and Rukie de Alwis received G. Philip Manire Graduate Student Excellence in Research Awards

    The Department of Microbiology and Immunology is pleased to announce that Kari Debbink, a graduate student in Ralph Baric’s lab, and Rukie de Alwis, a graduate student in Aravinda de Silva’s lab, are the 2013 G. Philip Manire Graduate Student Excellence in Research Award recipients. Kari’s research focuses on the molecular evolution of norovirus and … Read more

  • Barb Vilen: Connections between lupus and atherosclerosis

      The Alliance for Lupus Research website features an article on Barb Vilen, who discusses her ALR-funded research on BAFF and lupus-associated diseases.

  • Reminder/Update: M&I Symposium and Alumni Reunion (May 16-17, 2013)

    Dear M&I students/postdocs/faculty/staff/colleagues (past and present): If you have not already done so, please be sure this is on your calendars and register at the link below! On May 16, our Department will be hosting a full-day symposium featuring M&I alumni and new M&I faculty talking about their research in virology, immunology, and microbial pathogenesis. … Read more

  • Biologist elected as the next Chancellor at UNC – Chapel Hill

      Carol Folt will replace Holden Thorp as Chancellor on July 1. Folt is an internationally recognized environmental scientist who has had a series of senior academic and administrative roles at Dartmouth. See the UNC Gazette News article.

  • More M&I graduate student awards

    A wide variety of external awards to M&I graduate students were featured at the 2013 Annual Graduate Student Recognition Celebration Winners of national fellowships and research awards: Rodrigo Gonzalez (Miller lab): American Society for Microbiology Robert D. Watkins Graduate Research Fellowship Ankunda Kariisa (Tamayo lab): American Society for Microbiology Robert D. Watkins Graduate Research Fellowship … Read more

  • Sean Gregory receives Dean’s Distinguished Dissertation Award

    Sean Gregory won the 2013 Dean’s Distinguished Dissertation Award. Only four of these campus-wide awards are made each year, and Sean was selected for the area of Biological & Life Sciences. Sean was a graduate student in Blossom Damania’s lab and is currently a postdoc with David Knipe at Harvard Medical School.

  • Reid Roberts receives the 2013 GEAB Impact Award

    Reid Roberts, a graduate student in Jenny Ting’s lab, is one of the winners of the 2013 Impact Awards. The Impact Awards recognize outstanding graduate students in a wide variety of research areas and are privately funded each year through the Graduate Education Advancement Board. On April 10, 2013, Reid presented his doctoral research and … Read more

  • Garcia lab: HIV escape from innate immune restriction

    On March 28, 2013, PLoS Pathogens online featured work from Victor Garcia’s lab, using humanized (“BLT”) mice to demonstrate the role of HIV’s vif gene in counteracting host restriction of viral replication. Access the original article, “HIV Restriction by APOBEC3 in Humanized Mice,” through PubMed and the UNC News story here.

  • Lemon lab: Host membrane hijacking by HAV

    Published March 31, 2013 in Nature Advance Online: Stan Lemon’s lab shows how a “non-enveloped” picornavirus (hepatitis A virus) can become cloaked in host-derived membranes, providing protection from antibody-mediated neutralization. Access the online article through PubMed. See the UNC News story on this article.

  • Ralph Baric on SARS, 10 years later

      A major News Focus article in the March 15th edition of Science recalls the first pandemic of the 21st century and features comments by M&I Professor Ralph Baric. See PubMed to access the article.

  • Cohen, Cotter and Damania elected as 2013 Fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology

    In March, 2013, three UNC SoM M&I faculty members were elected as 2013 Fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM), the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology (ASM). Selection for fellowship is a highly competitive annual peer review process, based on scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced the field … Read more

  • Redinbo lab: Multidrug resistance acquisition by Staphylococcus aureus

    PNAS featured an article from Matt Redinbo’s group, and the focus is on the role of a relaxase encoded on an antibiotic resistance plasmid in S. aureus. The authors identify structural features important in conjugation and discuss the implications for how drug resistance is transferred between bacteria. Get the article through PubMed link below. Molecular … Read more

  • Dittmer lab: Building a better mouse . . .

    . . . for studying KSHV-B cell persistence, hyperplasia, and lymphoma. Hoon Sin and Dirk Dittmer constructed a transgenic mouse that expresses the complete complement of core KSHV latent genes under control of a B cell-specific promoter, creating the first in vivo model that allows functional assessment of the viral micro RNAs. Visit PubMed to … Read more

  • Damania lab: Switching between KSHV latency and lysis

    In the February 13 issue of Cell Host & Microbe, Blossom Damania’s group uses a cellular kinome siRNA screen and other knockdown experiments to prove that TLKs are involved in control of gammaherpesvirus latency. See the UNC News article here.

  • Lemon lab: HCV RNA stability and replication

    The Lemon lab paper, “Competing and noncompeting activities of miR-122 and the 5′ exonuclease Xrn1 in regulation of hepatitis C virus replication,” was published in the December 17 PNAS Early Edition. Access the paper in PubMed. See the UNC News story, “UNC researchers discover how hepatitis C virus reprograms human liver cells.”

  • Miao lab, Innate Immunity: Caspase-11 and protection against intracellular pathogens

    In the 2/22/2013 issue of Science, Ed Miao‘s group demonstrates a protective role for caspase-11 in responding to intracellular bacteria that escape the phagosome. See the UNC News article here. Dr. Miao’s paper was recently featured in a “Research Highlight” article in Nature Reviews Microbiology. And Cell Host & Microbe (Volume 13, Issue 3, 13 … Read more

  • Richardson lab: Secrets of MRSA Success

    That’s the title on the cover of the January 16, 2013 issue of Cell Host & Microbe, featuring an intriguing story about how a particularly hot strain of Staphylococcus aureus has evolved to combat host polyamines and alter the wound-healing response. See the article here and also the preview by Alonzo and Torres in the … Read more

  • AAI-LIfe Technologies Meritorious Career Award to Jenny Ting

    Congratulations to Jenny Ting, who will be receiving this American Association of Immunologists career award for “outstanding research contributions to the field of immunology.” Jenny has been on the M&I faculty since 1984, and her research explores basic mechanisms of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. She will be recognized with this prestigious award at Immunology 2013, … Read more

  • Dr. William J. Cromartie, 1913-2013

    Early in 2013, Bill Cromartie, Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Microbiology and Immunology, passed away in his 100th year. Bill was also at various times Chief of Infectious Disease Services in the Department of Medicine, Associate Dean for Clinical Sciences, and North Carolina Memorial Hospital Chief of Staff. For over 30 years, he was one … Read more