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Latest News and Seminars

News | Seminars | Thesis Defense

The Department of Microbiology and Immunology expands training for students with Industrial Career Interest

The department is actively engaged in promoting research internships and co-op opportunities within pharmaceutical companies for students who are considering an industrial career. Approved companies include Pfizer, Merck, Novartis, and others providing local, regional and global research training opportunities.

James Roger Christensen, Ph.D. Emeritus Professor and Past Chair of Microbiology and Immunology Dies

James Roger ChristensenDr. James Roger Christensen passed away suddenly at his home in Colorado Springs on March 17, 2014, at the age of 88.   Dr. Christensen started at the University of Rochester September 1, 1955 and became Professor Emeritus July 1, 1990. He was the Chair of Microbiology and Immunology 1982-1984.

On behalf of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, our deepest condolences go out to Dr. Christensen’s family and friends.



Rochester Researchers Receive $3 Million to Study Flu

Nurse giving flu shotResearchers at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry were awarded approximately $3 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health to continue the work being performed by the New York Influenza Center of Excellence (NYICE). 

Read full story on URMC Newsroom


Researchers Awarded $3.5 Million in NYS Stem Cell Grants

stem cellSix scientists from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry have been recommended awards of more than $3.5 million by NYSTEM.  The grants are for a wide range of research programs in the fields of neurological disorders, bone growth and repair, and cancer.

Read full story on Research@URMC




Monday, April 28, 2014 from 12:00 Noon – 1:00 PM in Whipple Auditorium (Room 2-6424)

Monday, May 5, 2014 from 12:00-1:00 PM in K-307 (Room 3-6408)

Jennifer L. Nayak, M.D.

Title: The role of CD4 T cell mediated immunity in pandemic influenza protection

Host: Andrea Sant

Seminar Abstract: Current influenza vaccination strategies rely upon accurate prediction of the viral strains likely to be circulating in the next year. However, as the viral strain that will be responsible for the next influenza pandemic is unpredictable and the time lag between initiation of a pandemic and significant vaccine production is lengthy, a pandemic vaccine will rarely be available until after significant viral circulation has occurred. One possible strategy to circumvent this limitation is to prime individuals against potentially pandemic strains of influenza before a pandemic strikes. To further investigate the role of influenza-specific CD4 T cells in neutralizing antibody production after confrontation with an influenza strain against which subjects have little preexisting immunity, we utilized a mouse model of heterosubtypic influenza challenge as well as human peripheral blood mononuclear cells obtained from studies of the H5N1 and the 2009 pandemic H1N1 inactivated influenza vaccines. We observed that novel HA-specific CD4 T cell responses are suppressed in the setting of preexisting immunity to “seasonal” HA proteins and that this suppression is correlated with a decrease in the neutralizing antibody response to the novel virus. Furthermore, while vaccination induced readily detectable CD4 T cell responses specific for both internal viral proteins and conserved portions of the hemagglutinin (HA) protein, neutralizing antibody responses were more robust in subjects with the most vigorous CD4 T cell responses to HA derived epitopes. These findings suggest that when hosts encounter a novel HA protein, such as occurs in a pandemic, the degree of circulating HA-specific memory CD4 T cell recruitment may help to determine the strength of the resulting neutralizing antibody response. Thus, pre-pandemic strategies that improve priming of HA-specific CD4 T cells may help to provide broad protection against diverse, potentially pandemic strains of influenza.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014 from 10:00-11:00 AM in K-207 (Room 2-6408)

RichardGalloMDPhDCo-Sponsored with the Department of Dermatology
Richard Gallo, M.D., Ph.D., Dermatology Division Chief, Department of Medicine, University of California at San Diego
Research Summary:  Our laboratory is interested in understanding the innate molecular mechanisms of epithelial defense and repair. Critical discoveries include finding that the skin makes natural antibiotic molecules known as Cathelicidins. Cathelicidins are cationic and amphipathic molecules that inhibit microbial function by targeting microbial membranes. Cathelicidins also interact with host pattern recognition receptors to stimulate cellular immune defense. Gene targeting and molecular analysis by our laboratory has shown cathelicidins are critical to mammalian immunity and are associated with human disease. For example, patients with atopic dermatitis suppress expression of cathelicidins and defensins and thus are more susceptible to skin infections. Likewise, cathelicidin knock-out mice are susceptible to infection by Group A Streptococcus. A delicate balance is required for proper innate immune function in the skin, as excess antimicrobial peptide expression is also deleterious, and can contribute to diseases such as acne rosacea and psoriasis. Numerous questions remain in this field and are the subject of ongoing work.
Lisa Beck & Edith Lord

Ph.D. Thesis Defense Seminars

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