Medical Microbiology and Immunology

Departmental Faculty

Primary Faculty Research Interests

2018 Faculty

*All primary faculty can serve as major advisors for doctoral and master's degree students

Robert M. Blumenthal, Ph.D. – Distinguished University Professor – Dr. Blumenthal’s research explores two main questions. First, how do bacteria control and coordinate the expression of their thousands of genes, and how is that regulatory architecture conserved or changed between different bacterial species? His lab is particularly interested in Lrp, a widely-distributed protein that (in E. coli) controls hundreds of genes, including genes associated with virulence. Second, what is the full role of restriction-modification systems (RMSs) in controlling the flow of genes among different bacteria? Almost all bacteria have RMSs and, while they can cut incoming DNA, there is evidence that this can actually increase gene exchange (possibly including antibiotic resistance genes).

Saurabh Chattopadhyay, Ph.D. – Associate Professor – Dr. Chattopadhyay’s laboratory is interested in studying the antiviral and anti-inflammatory responses against virus infections. The interferon system has been recognized as a major host defense mechanism against a broad range of viruses. Dr. Chattopadhyay is investigating how a key transcription factor, IRF3, and the induced genes (ISGs) mount antiviral protection. Using both RNA (e.g., Paramyxoviruses) and DNA (e.g., Herpesviruses) viruses, the important human pathogens, Dr. Chattopadhyay is interested in uncovering novel host response mechanisms to protect against them. Identification of new antiviral and anti-inflammatory strategies will lead to the development of successful therapeutic applications. In addition, some of the new innate response mechanisms are also being studied in the context of non-viral pathogenesis, e.g., liver diseases.

Viviana P. Ferreira, D.V.M., Ph.D. - Associate Professor - Dr. Ferreira’s research aims to understand the regulatory mechanisms by which humans protect their tissues from excessive, inadvertent or bystander complement-mediated damage. The complement system is a central part of our innate defense system, is an essential link between innate and adaptive immunity, and carries out critical housekeeping functions. Although tightly regulated, it also contributes to the origin of many inflammatory diseases. In order to contribute to understanding of the role of complement in inflammatory cardiovascular disease, current projects aim to define how negative regulator factor H and positive regulator properdin influence the interaction between human platelets and leukocytes.

Jason F. Huntley, Ph.D. – Professor – Dr. Huntley’s laboratory studies bacterial virulence factors and uses this information to develop vaccines. The main focus of the Huntley lab is Francisella tularensis, a highly-infectious bacterium that causes the deadly disease tularemia. Little is known about how F. tularensis causes disease or why the host immune system fails to control infection by these bacteria.  Currently-funded projects include:  (1) Studying F. tularensis surface protein expression during infection and identify key virulence factors;  (2) Developing and testing new vaccines to prevent F. tularensis infection and disease;  (3) Assessing immune responses to vaccination and F. tularensis infection to guide improved vaccine formulations.

Jyl Matson, Ph.D. - Associate Professor - Dr. Matson’s laboratory studies the mechanisms by which bacteria sense and respond to their extracellular environment. Vibrio cholerae causes epidemic cholera, a disease that continues to spread where people lack access to clean drinking water. Due to increasing antibiotic resistance in V. cholerae, there is a need for additional therapeutic agents. Current projects include 1) identification and characterization of small molecule inhibitors of a V. cholerae stress response pathway that may be developed into cholera therapeutics; and 2) characterizing transcriptional responses of V. cholerae to various stresses to determine pathways associated with bacterial fitness and pathogenesis.

Laura A. Mike, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor – The Mike lab is focused on dissecting the molecular mechanisms that bacteria use to sense, adapt, and respond to environmental signals. Klebsiella pneumoniae is a high-priority pathogen typically associated UTIs, pneumonia, and blood stream infections. We are specifically focused on identifying how K. pneumoniae controls major fitness factors in these different host niches and how that impacts the outcome of infection.

Tomoaki Ogino, Ph.D. - Associate Professor - Dr. Ogino's research interests lie in studies on gene expression of RNA viruses in higher eukaryotic cells. Especially, his laboratory focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms of RNA biosynthesis in nonsegmented negative strand (NNS) RNA viruses. NNS RNA viruses include many life-threatening human pathogens, such as rabies, human parainfluenza, respiratory syncytial, measles, Nipah, and Ebola; however, at present there are no effective drugs against these viruses. His research goals are to define the enzymatic and regulatory roles of NNS RNA viral RNA polymerases in transcription and replication and to develop specific drugs against them.

Z. Kevin Pan, M.D., Ph.D. - Professor and Chairman - The main research interest of Dr. Pan's laboratory is to better understand the molecular basis of inflammatory diseases and further develop novel therapeutic strategies. In particular, his laboratory focuses on the following areas: inducible negative regulation of inflammatory responses; the host/pathogen interactions that lead to the development of several inflammatory diseases, including septic shock, rheumatoid arthritis, and airway inflammation.

Stanislaw Stepkowski, DVM, Ph.D., D.Sc. - Professor - Dr. Stepkowski's research focuses on the development of novel strategies: 1) to improve the survival of organ allografts, with emphasis on non-toxic immunosuppressive agents; 2) to induce permanent acceptance of allografts (transplantation tolerance); and 3) to increase survival of pancreatic islets.  His laboratory seeks to better understand cytokine-induced T cell signaling through Janus tyrosine kinases (Jaks) and signal transducers and activators of transcription (Stats) pathways.  Ongoing work aims to identify novel regulatory phosphotyrosine sites in Jak3, using knock-in mice with mutated Jak3 sites.  The role of Stat3 and Stat 5a/b transcription factors are explored in Stat3 and Stat5 conditional knockouts.

R. Travis Taylor, Ph.D. - Associate Professor - Dr. Taylor’s research is focused on the vector-borne members of the Flaviviridae family, including West Nile virus, dengue virus and tick-borne encephalitis virus. Flaviviruses are significant human pathogens and we currently have limited treatment options. By evaluating interactions of virus and cellular proteins, Dr. Taylor has identified key host proteins that are important to antiviral responses. Understanding the molecular mechanism of host responses, as well as strategies employed by viruses to evade them, is crucial to future work in the lab aimed at developing new and effective flavivirus-specific therapies. 

R. Mark Wooten, Ph.D. – Professor– Dr. Wooten’s research focuses on the immune responses to bacterial infections, with primary focus on Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease) and Burkholderia pseudomallei (melioidosis).  His lab has developed intravital techniques using laser-confocal microscopy, that allow direct visualization of fluorescent B. burgdorferi within intact skin tissues of living mice, in order to study their interactions with fluorescent immune cell populations in real time.  For B. pseudomallei, they are assessing how the polysaccharide capsule prevents complement deposition and subsequent killing by macrophages and neutrophils.  The goals are to identify bacterial mechanisms that allow evasion of immune clearance, which may provide targets for preventative and/or curative therapies. 

Randall G. Worth, Ph.D. – Professor – Dr. Worth's laboratory investigates the role of platelets in inflammation and infection. At a basic science level, they are identifying pathways involved in pathogen destruction by platelets. To do this, they have engineered a transgenic mouse strain capable of conditional platelet depletion. When mice are depleted of platelets, responses against infectious agents can be studied. Dr. Worth also heads a translational project directed at understanding the interaction between inflammation and thrombosis. Specifically, they study the role of platelets in such autoimmune diseases as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. This project is revealing exciting new ways that platelets respond to IgG-complexes during disease.

Joint & Volunteer Faculty Appointments

Nezam Altorok, M.D. - Associate Professor, Department of Medicine

Joan M. Duggan, M.D. - Professor, Department of Medicine

M. Bashar Kahaleh, M.D. - Professor, Department of Medicine

Matam Vijay-Kumar, Ph.D. - Professor,  Department of Physiology and Pharmacology

Qing-Sheng Mi, M.D., Ph.D. Professor, Henry Ford Health System

Deepa Mukundan, M.D. - Professor,  Department of Pediatrics

Thomas J. Papadimos, M.D., MPH - Professor, Department of Anesthesiology

Michael A. Rees, M.D., Ph.D. - Professor, Department of Urology

David Kennedy, Ph.D. - Associate Professor, Department of Medicine

Steven Haller, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine

Emeritus faculty

Paul F. Lehmann, Ph.D.


Isabel Novella, Ph.D.

Dorothea L. Sawicki, Ph.D.

Stanley Sawicki, Ph.D.

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Last Updated: 1/5/23