Join us in investigating the importance of interactions between microbes, their hosts and the immune system in human health and disease.

As a student in the Immunology & Microbiology Graduate Program at Baylor College of Medicine, you will receive a personalized, inquiry-based education and actively acquire a sophisticated understanding of basic and translational immunology and microbiology problems and state-of-the-art techniques.  We also emphasize the development of critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving skills necessary for diverse scientific careers. Our interdisciplinary faculty members have diverse research interests that span many aspects of basic, translational, and clinical immunology and microbiology.  This broad spectrum of topics provides rich opportunities for collaborative and interdisciplinary thesis projects at the cutting-edge of training in these fields.

2016 Annual Retreat (372x158)

Diverse Perspectives

Our program draws together faculty members with shared interests in immunology and microbiology to provide a diversity of scientific perspectives. 

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Where Will Your Ph.D. Take You?

Our graduates have gone on to build successful careers in academia, industry, law, consulting and more. Whatever your vision for your career entails, we will provide the training, resources and support to help you realize your ambition. 

Immunology & Microbiology News

credit: NCI/NIH
Making ‘sense’ of the ‘cart before the horse’ in mammalian cells

A fusion gene is a new gene made by joining parts of two different genes. It had been thought that fusion genes precede fusion RNA, but some have raised doubts that this is always the case. About 10 years ago scientists proposed the ‘cart-before-the-horse-hypothesis,’ which puts forward the idea that fusion RNA can form first and then guide the rearrangement of genes to form the corresponding fusion gene. Although this process had been found in simpler organisms, until this study, researchers had yet to come forward showing that this proposed RNA-mediate gene rearrangements also happen in mammalian cells.

E. coli shows the way to discover cell-made protein carcinogens

Baylor researchers discovered a new major class of cancer-promoting genes by showing that many normal proteins made by our cells can act like carcionogens, damaged DNA and causing mutations. Former graduate student and current postdoctoral associate at Baylor, Dr. Jun Xia was one of the two co-first authors on this study.

credit: CDC/Dr. Gordon Roberstad
Beyond the airway and into the brain, yeast impairs memory in mice

An increasing number of clinical observations indicates that fungi are becoming a more common cause of upper airway allergic diseases such as asthma, as well as other conditions such as sepsis, a potentially life-threatening disease caused by the body’s response to an infection. Fungal infections causing airway allergic diseases and sepsis have been associated with increased risk for dementia later.This observation led Baylor researchers and colleagues to investigate the possibility that fungus might produce a brain infection and, if so, the consequences of having that kind of infection.

credit: CDC/Jessica A. Allen/Alissa Eckert
Sugars in mother's milk influence neonatal rotavirus infection

Rotavirus infection causes diarrhea and vomiting primarily in children younger than 5, with the exception of babies younger than 28 days of age, who usually have no symptoms. However, in some places, infections in newborns are associated with severe gastrointestinal problems. What can lead to an asymptomatic or to a clear infection is not clearly understood. BCM researchers are identifying the factors mediating differences between newborns with and without symptoms.

credit: National Human Genome Research Institute
Team work and balance can keep a gut healthy

A significant body of work currently is indicating that the microbiota helps shape the immune system and allows it to do its job. BCM researchers are investigating the role the microbiota plays in modulating the immune response in a way that reduces the damage inflammation can do to the gut.

credit: Usman Bashir/Creative Commons
The social amoeba’s surviving balancing act

Single-celled bodies of the social amoeba Dictyostelium discoideum live in the soil voraciously feeding on bacteria. As this food source dwindles, the amoebas get stressed and respond by getting together, forming first a slug and then a fruiting body consisting of a ball of spores balanced atop a dead stalk. It’s been known for a number of years that the multicellular slug and the fruiting body stages of some, but not all, social amoeba carry bacteria. BCM researchers are investigating how some amoebas manage to maintain their own microbiome and, at the same time, keep an innate defense mechanism that should kill the bacteria.

credit: National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH/Jonathan Bailey
Gut metabolite profile may provide insight into how NEC happens

Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) is a serious disease mediated by an inflammatory process that leads to intestinal damage and sometimes death. The risk of preterm infants developing the disease also is higher when they are fed formula than when they feed on breast milk. In this study, the researchers took a closer look at the effect of two different sugars on the development of NEC using a detailed analysis: they characterized the bacterial communities, or microbiome, of the gut, and the metabolite profiles found in the gut and the blood.

Heart NLRP3 inflammasome linked to atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is the most common heart arrhythmia that can increase a person’s risks for stroke and related heart problems. BCM researchers set out to determine whether inflammatory signaling could be playing a causative role in atrial fibrillation. They found that the activation of an inflammasome pathway in heart cells can affect many proteins that are involved in modulating the electrophysiology of cardiac cells. Enhancing this pathway ultimately leads to abnormal electrical patterns that are similar to those observed in atrial fibrillation in the mouse model.

David vs Goliath: how a small molecule can defeat asthma attacks

Corry’s laboratory has been studying asthma for about 20 years. One of their interests is to better understand the molecular pathways that drive airway constriction.

From the Labs

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