Microbiology & Immunology
Programs of Study
Research in the Division of Microbiology and Immunology is devoted to understanding molecular mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis and regulation of the immune response. Areas of specialization include bacteriology, mycology, virology, immunology, cell biology, biochemistry and molecular genetics. Programs of study lead to both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. The M.S. degree is earned by completing 32 semester hours of coursework, including biostatistics and thesis research credit. Students must participate in various departmental and interdepartmental seminars and pass a thesis defense. Ph.D. candidates may or may not have completed the M.S. degree or its equivalent. Ph.D. candidates with a M.S. degree must complete an additional 64 semester hours of coursework and thesis research credit, while candidates without a M.S. degree must complete 96 semester hours of coursework, including biostatistics, and thesis research credit. Ph.D. candidates must also demonstrate proficiency in several areas of scientific communication skills such as computer literacy and grant writing. Within their first year in the graduate program, students select a thesis advisor and a graduate advisory committee. The graduate advisory committee approves the student’s plan of study and administers the student’s preliminary exam, prospectus exam (an in-depth discussion of the student’s proposed research project) and the final thesis defense. All graduate students are expected to participate in the divisional journal club that provides a forum for discussion of current literature on molecular microbiology and immunology.
Graduate research and teaching assistantships, with full tuition and fee waivers, are available on a competitive basis. Funds are provided from departmental teaching sources of grants to individual investigators. The amount of aid varies with the source, type of support and the progress of the student.
The Department of Pathobiology is located within the College of Veterinary Medicine on the campus of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The campus has the third largest academic library in the United States with over 10 million volumes, more than 90,000 serial titles and more than 6 million non-print items. The Library provides full electronic access to over 90,000 online research resources including an impressive number of scientific journals. Computing facilities on the UIUC campus are outstanding, featuring a high-speed fiberoptic network. The campus is home to the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), which has earned a reputation for innovation in high-performance computing, visualization and desktop computing. NCSA is also home to the National Microbial Pathogen Data Resource that provides the advanced bioinformatics environment necessary to identify polymorphisms associated with microbial pathogenicity and drug resistance. The Roy J. Carver Biotechnology Center serves the UIUC campus and provides state-of-the-art equipment and cost-effective services. The W.M. Keck Center for Comparative and Functional Genomics provides automated DNA sequencing (including high throughput for genome sequencing projects), oligonucleotide synthesis, custom library construction, extensive microarray technology, and strong support for bioinformatics. The Protein Sciences Facility provides protein sequencing, peptide synthesis, amino acid analysis, and two-dimensional gel analyses. The Flow Cytometry Facility has high-speed flow sorters and maintains analytical FACscans at key locations across the campus. The Immunological Resource Center produces monoclonal antibodies and polyclonal antisera, and provides BlAcore 3000 instrumentation for SPR analysis of protein:ligand interactions. The Biotechnology Center also has a Metabolomics Center, Transgenic Mouse Facility, and Career Services Office. All facilities operate with full-time technical personnel who either carry out the work or assist the principal investigators and their students. The new Institute for Genomic Biology, a $75 million, 186,000 square foot, state-of-the-art research facility was dedicated in 2007 and serves to integrate biological research on the UIUC campus. UIUC is also beginning construction of a BSL3 biocontainment laboratory.
The College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is home to its own specialized library and the Center for Microscopic Imaging, which provides equipment and technical staff for transmission electron microscopy, confocal microscopy, immunohistology and immunoelectron microscopy. CVM also houses the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (VDL) that provides virology, immunology, pathology, parasitology and microbiology services handling over 12,000 cases annually. VDL services are available to aid research projects. CVM has its own 12,000 square foot, AAALAC-accredited animal care facility.
The Department of Pathobiology offers central computing facilities to all students and faculty, and also maintains shared equipment for research use. Equipment includes a Gene Pix 4000B Microarray Scanner (Axon Instruments), ABI Prism 7000 Sequence Detection System for real-time PCR, Arcturus Pix Cell II, Dionex Carbohydrate Analysis Workstation, Molecular Devices SpectraMax Plus and Gemini EM plate readers, Kodak Image Station 440, Alpha Innotech Gel Imaging System, and Coulter Counters.