Department of Microbiology

  • Illustration of microbes

    Microbial Community. Image courtesy of Arwa Abbas.

  • Illustration of microbes

    HPV infected cells. Image courtesy of Jianxin You.

  • Illustration of microbes

    Vibrio cholerae attached to tissue. Image courtesy of Jun Zhu.

  • Illustration of microbes

    EM of HIV infected cells. Image by Uta von Schwedler.

  • Illustration of microbes

    Cells infected with HIV vectors. Image courtesy of Boris Fehse.

Our Department

The inhabitants of Earth are mostly microbes, and their activities are central to human welfare.  Microbes can cause disease, but a properly functioning microbiome is essential for health. Microbes spoil food, but drive many forms of food production. Microbes mediate organismic decay, but catalyze numerous geochemical processes essential for life on Earth.

The mission of the Microbiology department is to carry out high impact research on the biology, transmission, immunology and pathogenesis of microbes, and to train new leaders in the field.

Our research focuses on viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites that cause disease, and the larger microbial communities in which they exist.  Some of the research topics in the department include pathogenic bacteria of the airway and gut, HIV/AIDS, insect- and rodent-borne viruses, herpes viruses, papillomaviruses, emerging infectious diseases and the human microbiome. Our faculty also study many areas of immunology related to infection, including innate and adaptive immunity, tumor immunology and vaccine development.  Our faculty collaborate closely with the PennCHOP Microbiome Program, the Institute for Immunology, the Institute for Biomedical Informatics, the Department of Infectious Disease, the Center for AIDS Research, and the Penn Cancer Center to advance high impact research in Microbiology.

A key part of our mission is to train the next generation of leaders in Microbiology.  Our world is changing ever more rapidly due to population growth, global warming, and emergence of new infectious diseases—never has it been more important to train exceptional young people in the scientific tools needed to meet these challenges. Our faculty train students pursuing their doctorate degrees in Microbiology within the Microbiology, Virology and Parasitology (MVP) Graduate Group.  We also work closely with the Genomics and Computational Biology Graduate Group, the Immunology Graduate Group, and the Cell and Molecular Biology Graduate Group, all under the leadership of Biomedical Graduate Studies (BGS) at Penn.  The Microbiology Department also trains medical students in Microbiology, and supports postdoctoral fellows working in Microbiology and related areas.

We invite you to learn more about our research and faculty


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