Remarks from the Chair

Pathogens causing emerging and tropical diseases remain major threats to human health, as underscored by recent outbreaks of Ebola virus, MERS coronavirus as well as Zika and chikungunya virus. Most recently, our department has played a leading role internationally in the emergency responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other major infectious disease threats include resistance of bacteria to antibiotics and impacts on the human microbiota, which can affect many diseases. The continuing burdens of parasitic diseases such as Chagas, leishmaniasis also underscore the global nature of infectious disease challenges. The Department of Microbiology and Immunology (M&I) at UTMB focuses on these and many other acute and chronic infections, as well as on basic immunology. We also make major contributions to the education of graduate, medical and postdoctoral trainees in diverse fields of microbiology and immunology to develop the next generation of scientists and physicians to address these formidable public health challenges.

M&I has been a leading, research-intensive basic science department at UTMB for several decades. Our world-class faculty includes over 30 primary appointments actively engaged in research and teaching, as well as a similar number of jointly appointed members from various basic science and clinical departments across the campus. Major foci of research include the molecular and cellular basis of host-pathogen interactions, vaccine and therapeutic development, and immune mechanisms of protection. These approaches are used for a wide range of parasitic, bacterial and viral infections, with emphasis on vector-borne and other emerging, zoonotic diseases.

Our unique high-containment capabilities and facilities, including the Galveston National Laboratory with major BSL3 and BSL4 capabilities and state-of-art core and regulatory capabilities, facilitate our major contributions to translational biodefense and emerging infectious disease research on many of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) priority pathogens. Finally, we are extensively integrated with the UTMB Institutes for Human Infections and Immunity, Translational Sciences, and Drug Discovery, as well as the Centers for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases and Tropical Diseases, and the Sealy Institute for Vaccine Sciences and Structural Biology/Molecular Biophysics to catalyze interdisciplinary infectious disease research across the UTMB campus.

We welcome you to this virtual tour of our department and look forward to hearing from you!

Scott C. Weaver, MS, PhD
Chair, Microbiology & Immunology