Immunology, virology, and bacterial pathogenesis are active interdisciplinary biomedical fields with studies ranging from molecular mechanisms to clinical trials. The Immunology & Microbiology Program (IMP) is administered by an interdepartmental group that includes faculty with diverse research interests, including the molecular and cellular basis of immune responsiveness, molecular mechanisms of viral replication, host-pathogen interactions, and the control of viral, bacterial and parasitic infections.
Graduate students in IMP acquire a broad base of knowledge in biochemistry, genetics, and cellular and molecular biology through the Core Curriculum. Specialized training in immunology, virology, and bacteriology is initiated in a first year course, Infection and Immune Response, which introduces students to the immune system, basic principles of bacteriology and virology, and the interaction of bacteria and viruses with the host. Emphasis is placed on experimental systems and analysis of primary research papers. Further training continues in the fall of the second year with at least one of three courses: Advanced Virology, Advanced Molecular and Cellular Immunology, or Advanced Bacterial Pathogenesis. Also offered is Introduction to Flow and Image Cytometry. Advanced courses emphasize reading and critical analysis of recent research papers. Additional training in the second year includes with seminars, journal clubs, and tutorials - all of which explore the most active areas of current research. Laboratory rotations help familiarize students with current research methods and facilitate the selection of an area of interest and a laboratory in which students can pursue their dissertation research.
In addition to the Core courses and laboratory rotations, IMP students should take Infection and Immune Response in the first year, and, in the second year, at least one advanced level course offered by the Immunology and Microbiology program. Equivalent advanced topics courses can be substituted with permission. All students, except for those in the final stages of their dissertation research, are required to take Graduate Student Seminar each fall semester, and Immunobiology and Microbiology Seminar and Discussion, or an equivalent guest scientist seminar program, for two semesters.
The Immunology and Microbiology Program (IMP) is in part supported by a National Institutes of Health graduate student training grant, entitled Training in Immunology and Virology (NIH/NIAID T32 AI-007349-24, Raymond M. Welsh-PI). It provides one to two years of fellowship support to IMP graduate student trainees interested in the fields of immunology and/or virology and training in the laboratories of one of about 25 designated faculty mentors listed on the training grant. The fellowships consist of salary support and a modest budget for travel and research expenses. Student trainees are selected between their second and third year of graduate studies and after successful completion of qualifying exams. Students must be American citizens or green card holders, and they are selected based on their academic performance at UMMS. This competitive training grant is now in its 25th year of funding, reflecting the quality of training in immunology and virology sponsored by the IMP at UMMS.