Message from the Chair

Microorganisms both serve and imperil us. They inhabit our bodies, process our food, produce essential vitamins, recycle chemicals, and form the very foundation of the earth’s ecology. They are the most numerous, most diverse, most energetic organisms on the planet, and without them life as we know it would rapidly grind to a halt. On the other hand, several of these organisms produce diseases that range from minor inconveniences to fatal, and our interconnected world means we are all increasingly exposed to novel pathogens. Fortunately, our immune system controls beneficial microbes so they cannot harm us, defends against antagonistic microbes, and guards against the unchecked growth and imperfections of our own cells.

Although medical advances make it easier to diagnose and treat some of these diseases, it is crucial that we work harder to understand the basic biology of microbes and the immunological mechanisms that can either protect or disable us. To these ends, the UAMS Department of Microbiology and Immunology seeks to: 1) improve human health by conducting innovative basic research on microbial pathogens and the immune system, and 2) educate medical and graduate students so that a new generation of scientists can understand and control infectious and immunological diseases.

The faculty of the UAMS Department of Microbiology and Immunology are internationally recognized for outstanding research and are highly regarded for their teaching, mentoring and inspiring students in the medical sciences. Currently, the Department is the professional home of 15 primary faculty (10 of whom have joined us in just the past decade). These individuals conduct basic and applied research on the pathogenesis and immunology of several microorganisms (e.g., Borrelia, Chlamydia, Coxiella, E. coli, Staphylococcus, Yersinia, Plasmodium, gammaherpesvirus, reovirus, poxvirus and coronaviruses) and on the immunology and cell biology of cancer and immunotoxicology. In short, the Department offers diverse research opportunities and a broad educational experience to prepare students, postdoctoral fellows and research scientists for productive careers in the biomedical sciences. I am pleased to serve as Chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology as it continues to address the scientific needs of the 21st century, and hope you will take time to learn more about our research and educational programs, as well as becoming better acquainted with UAMS and the city of Little Rock.

Kevin D. Young, Ph.D.