Philosophy and Objectives

The goal of graduate training in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology is to prepare students for a challenging research and/or teaching career in immunology, microbial pathogenesis, or microbial genetics. We aim to develop students into productive scientists who will be able to participate in and contribute to the dramatic advances in biomedical sciences that are shaping our lives in the 21st century. While the members of the faculty are pursuing research in the areas of pathogenic microbiology and immunobiology, we feel that it is absolutely essential that students entering our program receive a solid background in cell biology and molecular biology. It has become apparent that the borders between the traditional disciplines of microbiology, immunology, physiology, cell biology, biochemistry, and pathology have become blurred. One can no longer focus in one area to the exclusion of the others. The productive scientist of today and tomorrow will be the individual who can transcend the traditional boundaries and bring to the research problems a strong knowledge of multiple disciplines. The Department has designed its graduate program with this concept in mind so that all students entering the program take the same curriculum which emphasizes cell and molecular biology. This curriculum is intended to prepare students to undertake current research in microbiology and immunology, and to subsequently allow them to broaden their field of study as they continue in their chosen career paths. We offer educational opportunities and training in two broad areas of study, immunology and microbial pathogenesis.

Concentration in Immunology

There are few areas of modern medical science that are untouched by immunology. It is, of course, the immune response which protects us from disease but it is also  very apparent that the immune response in some cases may actually be responsible for causing disease. In addition, the tools of immunology, such as monoclonal antibodies, play an important role  in clinical diagnosis and research in many diverse areas. Studies in Immunology  allows students to explore the major principles and concepts in immunology and immunopathology through basic coursework, seminars, and journal clubs and to simultaneously apply  that knowledge to a research problem under the guidance of the faculty.

Concentration in Microbial Pathogenesis

With every passing day, the news media reports on either an outbreak of a new disease, the spread of a disease thought to be under control, or the emergence of an antibiotic-resistant strain of an organism and the impact on human and animal life. We are still trying to understand how microorganisms cause diseases that we can devise new strategies to deal with them. It has become very apparent that microorganisms and the host have a dynamic and active interaction so that it is absolutely essential that scientists understand the basic principles of molecular and cell biology in order to decipher the pathogenic mechanisms. Moreover, the genomes of many of the major pathogenic organisms have  been sequenced, providing a vast resource to address the problems at hand. Our goal is to provide students with a solid background in molecular genetics and cell biology through basic coursework, seminars, and journal clubs so they can use  these concepts to explore research problems in pathogenesis, virulence, and basic genetics of pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or fungi.

Research

The UAMS Department of Microbiology & Immunology brings together the expertise of 16 faculty members who are nationally and internationally recognized for their research. Their work is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Department of Defense, among others. An extensive array  of research areas are under investigation by the faculty with a high level of collaborative research both within and outside of the institution.

Graduate School Application

Graduate studies in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology are pursued through the Microbiology and Immunology Track of the UAMS Graduate Program in Interdisciplinary Biomedical Sciences (GPIBS). Prospective students interested in pursuing doctoral or Master’s studies in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology can apply through the GPIBS website.

For questions concerning applications to the graduate program please contact:

Karl Boehme, Ph.D.
Director, Microbiology and Immunology Track
(501) 686-5189
email