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  • Maureen Su awarded Jefferson-Pilot Fellowship in Academic Medicine

    Congratulations to M&I faculty member Maureen Su, winner of a Jefferson-Pilot Fellowship that recognizes outstanding junior faculty. It’s been a good month for Maureen, who also just learned that she has been promoted to Associate Professor with tenure. See the link below for an engaging interview in which she describes her path from valley girl … Read more

  • Faculty profile: Ed Miao

    In this interview, M&I Assistant Professor Ed Miao talks about his choices in education and career, as well as his research interests in innate immune responses to microbes. Don’t miss his analogy that explains caspase-11 in the context of a home alarm system.   The Battle against Microscopic Bugs Edward Miao, MD, PhD, earns a … Read more

  • Graduate student profile: Ellen Perkowski

    A UNC Newsroom article on Ellen Perkowski (Miriam Braunstein’s lab) discusses her background, some key life choices, and her research on Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Read the interview/story at the link below.   Taking on Tuberculosis Graduate student Ellen Perkowski created a new tool to study how tuberculosis survives, thrives, and escapes our immune system defenses.

  • Dittmer lab: Pinpointing the human genome mutations linked to viral lymphoma

    A PNAS article from Dirk Dittmer’s group demonstrates how targeted next-generation sequencing allowed them to identify single nucleotide variants in patients with primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), a herpesvirus-associated cancer. One of the consistent mutations is in the gene encoding IL-1 receptor-association kinase 1 (IRAK1) and introduces a novel phosphorylation site. See the article at the … Read more

  • Youssef Aachoui and Vineet Menachery win Postdoctoral Awards for Research Excellence

    Congratulations to Youssef (postdoc in Ed Miao’s lab) and Vineet (postdoc in Ralph Baric’s lab) for being selected as 2014 recipients of these awards that recognize outstanding postdocs throughout the UNC campus. The awards will be presented in a ceremony on November 17. See the article at the link below.   Postdoc Awards for Research … Read more

  • Griffith lab: BioArt Winner

    For this year’s FASEB BioArt competition, the Griffith lab generated one of the award-winning images using single particle reconstruction of the ICP8 protein from HSV-1. See all the winning images and videos at

  • Ed Miao awarded Jefferson-Pilot Fellowship in Academic Medicine

    Congratulations to M&I Assistant Professor Ed Miao for winning 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 … Read more

  • Celebrating Fred Sparling’s Legacy

    This month marks M&I Professor Fred Sparling’s retirement after a 45-year career at UNC. He was the third Chair of M&I (1981-1989) and the fifth Chair of the Department of Medicine (1989-2000). After Fred became Director of the Southeastern Regional Center for Excellence for Biodefense (SERCEB), UNC emerged as the headquarters of a diverse biodefense … Read more

  • M&I research featured at summer international conferences

    The summer months are a busy time for research conferences, and M&I has been well-represented in the programming of a wide variety of international meetings: Blossom Damania was invited to speak at the Second International Symposium on Viral Strategies of Immune Evasion (Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany). Beth Shank and Stephani Page (graduate … Read more

  • Lemon lab: Oxidative stress and the persistence of hepatitis C virus

    A new Nature Medicine article ( from Stan Lemon’s group shows how lipid peroxides downregulate the efficiency of HCV replication, limiting tissue damage and facilitating viral persistence. See the UNC News story at the link below.

  • Microbe cocktails and agricultural biotech in the Research Triangle

    M&I faculty members Jeff Dangl and Beth Shank are featured in an article on how local biotech companies can benefit from UNC research aimed at understanding the plant microbiome and microbe-plant interactions. See the Endeavors Magazine story at the link below. The Business of Bugs

  • Thomson Reuters names Stanley Lemon and Jeffery Dangl to the 2014 list of “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds”

    Congratulations to M&I Professors Stan Lemon and Jeff Dangl for earning the “Highly Cited Researchers” distinction from Thomson Reuters. The names on this list, determined from Web of Science publication and citation metrics, include scientists who have authored the greatest number of “highly cited papers” (the top 1% most cited for their subject field and … Read more

  • Farewell, Block 4

    This next academic year will be the initiation of the new Translational Education at Carolina (TEC) curriculum for medical students, a fundamental change from the standard coursework stucture that has been in place for many years. Immunology will taught in an individual course, while microbiology/infectious disease teaching will be woven throughout a series of organ-based … Read more

  • More from the Baric lab: How viruses antagonize the global ISG response

    In this new mBio article, systems biology meets viral pathogenesis as the Baric lab compares infections by highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI) A virus, 2009 pandemic H1N1, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), and Middle East respiratory syndrome CoV (MERS-CoV). They demonstrate the existence of unique and common viral strategies for controlling interferon-stimulated genes … Read more

  • Baric lab: Neutralizing MERS-CoV

    A new PNAS article from Ralph Baric’s lab, in collaboration with Wayne Marasco’s group at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, describes the use of a human antibody-phage library to identify seven human neutralizing antibodies specific for the receptor-binding domain of the MERS-CoV Spike protein. See the UNC News article at the link below.   Immunological Study … Read more

  • Welcome, new M&I graduate students!

    M&I is one of 14 doctoral programs that are selected by students who have been admitted through one of two interdisciplinary portals: the Biological and Biomedical Sciences Program (BBSP) and the MD-PhD program. On Friday, May 16, eleven PhD students and two MD-PhD joined M&I and embarked on the dissertation phase of their predoctoral training. … Read more

  • A new chapter in Steve Clarke’s career

    After nearly 30 years on the UNC faculty, our friend and colleague Steve Clarke has decided to move to AbbVie in Worcester, MA, to pursue a new direction in his research on lupus. His lab is well known for many studies on B cell development, B cell tolerance, and loss of tolerance in disease. We … Read more

  • Spotlight on PREP

    A UNC News article on PREP (Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program) includes comments from M&I alum Josh Hall (2008, Kawula lab), Director of this NIH-sponsored program. Three of the eight current PREP students are working in M&I labs this year: Hubaida Fuseini (Abel lab), Ninecia Scott (Braunstein lab), and Uduak Udoeyo (Miller lab). Prepped and ready … Read more

  • Ellen Perkowski wins Sharp Graduate Innovator Award

    Congratulations to Ellen Perkowski, winner of the inaugural D. Gordon Sharp Graduate Innovator Award. As part of her dissertation work in Miriam Braunstein’s lab, Ellen has developed an innovative system for genome-wide identification of proteins exported by bacterial pathogens during infection. This system, which she has termed “Exported In vivo Technology (EXIT),” has a distinct … Read more

  • Cerami-Meshnick lab: Iron supplementation and malaria

    M&I graduate students Morgan Goheen and Martha Clark are featured in an Endeavors story on the complex issues related to iron supplements for treating malaria in Africa. See the article at the link below. Safer Supplements

  • Congratulations to M&I 2013-2014 Graduates! (Part 3 of 3)

    Christopher Packey (Sartor lab) is currently a Gastroenterology and Hepatology Clinical Fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. His dissertation title was “Disruption of complex enteric microbial communities and their mutualistic functions with the host contributes to the severity of common intestinal disorders and serves as a promising therapeutic target.” Lydia Roberts (Frelinger lab) completed … Read more

  • Congratulations to M&I 2013-2014 Graduates! (Part 2 of 3)

    Rodrigo Gonzalez (Miller lab) successfully defended his dissertation in March 2014. Rodrigo’s research focused on understanding the earliest events that occur in the host after inoculation of the plague bacterium Yersinia pestis. In particular he was interested in identifying the mode of trafficking of Y. pestis from the inoculation site to the draining lymph node, … Read more

  • Congratulations to M&I 2013-2014 Graduates! (Part 1 of 3)

    23 M&I graduate students completed their PhD work during this past academic year and are eligible to participate in the doctoral hooding ceremony at the Dean Smith Center on May 10. Below are short summaries of their doctoral work and current activities/plans. Melissa Anderson (Cotter lab) successfully defended her dissertation in August 2013. She showed … Read more

  • Cotter lab: How microbes establish and maintain exclusive neighborhoods

    PLOS Pathogens features a new study from the Peggy Cotter’s group, who have been modeling bacterial inter-strain competition with Burkholderia. Their article on the role of contact-dependent inhibition in microbial biofilm communities is at the link below. Kind Discrimination and Competitive Exclusion Mediated by…

  • Kari Debbink to receive GEAB Impact Award

    The UNC Graduate School has just announced that Kari Debbink, who did her graduate work in Ralph Baric’s lab, is one of the winners of the 2014 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. … Read more

  • Faculty profile: Bruce Cairns

    A UNC News feature on M&I Professor Bruce Cairns, candidate for UNC Faculty Chair; see the article at the link below. Voting faculty will have the opportunity to choose Bruce during an online election this week, and you can refer to a voter’s guide ( with summaries of UNC committee candidates, including M&I’s Kristina Abel … Read more

  • Pickles lab: Understanding airway damage by RSV

    In vitro and in vivo model systems of respiratory syncytial virus infection are featured in a new article from the lab of Ray Pickles. M&I postdoc Rachael Liesman is the lead author of this study that appears in the April issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation ( See the UNC News article at the … Read more

  • Lishan Su’s lab: A humanized mouse model for studying HBV

    Recognizing the limitations associated with current chimeric human-murine liver mouse models for studying hepatitis B virus infection and immunity, Lishan Su’s group has developed a humanized mouse with both human immune system and liver cells. See their new PLOS Pathogens article at the link below.

  • Faculty profile: Rita Tamayo

    An engaging interview with M&I faculty member Rita Tamayo, talking about choices in her life, creativity and science, and her research on Vibrio cholerae and Clostridium difficile. See the “Five Questions” article by Mark Derewicz at the link below.   Breaking Down Bacteria

  • Ron Swanstrom elected as Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology

    The American Academy of Microbiology (AAM), the honorific leadership group within the American Society for Microbiology (ASM), just announced that M&I Professor Ron Swanstrom ( has been elected as one of the 2014 Fellows. Selection for fellowship is a highly competitive annual peer review process, based on scientific achievement and original contributions that have advanced … Read more

  • Goodbye Mary Ellen Jones

      In early April, the Department of Microbiology & Immunology began the final phase of moving out of its 36-year home in the Mary Ellen Jones Building. The migration began last year with departmental labs moving to the 9th floor of the completely renovated Burnett Womack Building. The rest of the Department’s space will be … Read more

  • It takes a network: Stephani Page #BLACKandSTEM

    Graduate student Stephani Page (Bob Bourret’s lab) has rocketed into the upper Twittersphere by building a community of like-minded colleagues based on a new hashtag. It’s all explained in David Zax’s article at the link below. Also see previous discussions about Stephani’s blogs for Nature #BLACKandSTEM: The Hashtag As Community

  • Ting lab: Intersecting pathways of innate immune regulation

    A new study from Jenny Ting’s lab, now available online at the Immunity journal website, demonstrates how interactions between an NLR protein (NLRC3) and an intracellular DNA sensor (STING) modulate innate immune activation in response to DNA viruses. M&I LinkedIn Group member Lu Zhang is the lead author of the study, and co-authors include members … Read more

  • Faculty profile: Myron Cohen

    The latest issue of Blue & White, a student-run monthly magazine, has a nice biographical feature on M&I Professor Mike Cohen. See the story by UNC senior Abigail Brewer at the link below.

  • Graduate student profile: Kizzmekia Corbett

    A new UNC Newsroom article on Kizzy Corbett (Aravinda de Silva’s lab) discusses her background, her research on dengue virus, and the fellowship that will take her to Sri Lanka Corbett continues quest for dengue fever vaccine

  • Serody lab: Dynamic imaging of immune cells in graft-versus-host disease

    A new Blood First Edition paper from Jon Serody’s lab uses multiphoton laser-scanning microscopy to study the interactions between donor T cells, dendritic cells, and regulatory T cells in lymph nodes after transplantation. See the article at the link below, and don’t miss the cool movies in the Supplemental Materials!

  • Garcia lab: Immunotherapy augments antiretroviral therapy to target persistent HIV

    Victor Garcia’s lab addresses the longstanding problem of HIV persistence in a new PLOS Pathogens paper that takes advantage of their bone marrow/liver/thymus (BLT) humanized mouse system. They combine antiretroviral therapy with an immunotoxin designed to target the conserved CD4 binding site of HIV-1 gp120, and they show a dramatic reduction in persistent virus throughout … Read more

  • Dangl and Grant labs: Comparative transcriptomics to understand the evolution of Pseudomonas syringae virulence

    RNAseq analysis is combined with phylogenetics in this new PLOS Pathogens paper from the labs of Jeff Dangl and Sarah Grant. By characterizing the HrpL regulon across six diverse strains of P. syringae, they identify novel putative virulence factors and two novel type III effector families. See the article at the link below.;jsessionid=36F2FDBCC0829F3F478B5F12B4C77DCE

  • de Silva and Baric labs: Molecular determinants of immunity to dengue

    The current online Early Edition of PNAS features a collaboration between the labs of Aravinda de Silva and Ralph Baric that has broad implications for designing and improving vaccines for viral infections. They demonstrate that a specific region on the viral surface (the envelope domain I/II hinge) is the primary target for serotype-specific neutralizing antibodies … Read more

  • Merry Christmas: M&I gets a boost in the rankings

    It’s Christmas morning and I’m happy to relay a nice surprise that brings 2013 to a satisfying close, thanks to newly released data on NIH awards. Based on current NIH funding levels, our Department now ranks 8th among all microbiology/immunology departments at medical schools. And in comparison with these departments at our peer institutions (public … Read more

  • Scholarometer: Crowdsourcing to help gauge the impact of scientists across fields

    Metrics to evaluate scientists are always controversial, but a trend is to assess the impact of your research based on how often your papers are cited, rather than where you’ve published them. The h-index is one such metric: an h-index of 25 means that 25 of your papers have been cited at least 25 times. … Read more