Dennis E. Ohman, Ph.D.
Professor and chair

microbiology.vcu.edu

The Department of Microbiology and Immunology is focused on research, cutting-edge technologies and educational programs with emphasis on microbial pathogens, cancer and the host immune defense system, which protects individuals from disease. The training is rigorous, emphasizing conceptual and experimental strategies using state-of-the-art technologies in modern facilities.

Departmental microbiologists study the molecular mechanisms by which microorganisms (i.e., bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites) colonize a host, evade the immune response and cause damage. Immunologists in the department study the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which the immune response either defends the host against pathogens or goes awry, such as with an allergic reaction. Many of the department’s molecular cell biologists are studying the fundamentals of cancer and new therapeutic approaches. All conduct research using the tools of molecular biology, genetics, cell culture, infection models, transgenic animals and bioinformatics.

A major goal of the department is to train the next generation of research scientists. Ph.D. students and postdoctoral fellows work alongside principal investigators to test hypotheses of medical importance. Laboratory training is supplemented with rigorous course work, seminars, journal clubs and lab meetings. Most trainees present their research findings at national and international meetings.

MICR 501. Infection and Immunity (Pharmacy). 4 Hours.

Semester course; 4 lecture hours. 4 credits. Offered to pharmacy students in the first professional year. Others admitted with permission of instructor. A course on the fundamentals of microbiology and immunology with aspects on disease and treatment of interest to dentistry and pharmacy.

MICR 505. Immunobiology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Background in cellular and molecular biology, and biochemistry is recommended. Nondegree-seeking students admitted with permission of instructor. A survey of immunobiology as a total host response to foreign agents, covering the nature of antigens and antibodies, antigen-antibody reactions, immunocompetent cells, allergic reactions, tumor immunology, transplantation immunology, immunological diseases and immunogenetics.

MICR 513. Infection and Immunity (Dentistry). 4 Hours.

Semester course; 4 lecture hours. 4 credits. Offered to dental students in the first professional year. Others admitted with permission of instructor. A course on the fundamentals of microbiology and immunology with aspects on disease and treatment of interest to dentistry and pharmacy.

MICR 515. Principles of Molecular Microbiology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A comprehensive course designed to provide the student with a thorough understanding of microbial physiology, genetics and diversity. Also covered are some basic concepts in microbial pathogenesis and in applied microbiology. The course focuses on structural and functional characteristics of micro-organisms; ecological and physiological diversity of microbes; growth and control of micro-organisms; genetics of bacteria and viruses; bacteria as agents of disease; and applications of microbiology.

MICR 605. Prokaryotic Molecular Genetics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: BIOC 530, BIOC 531, BIOC 532 and BIOC 533; or BIOC 503 and BIOC 504; or permission of instructor; MICR 515 or equivalent recommended. A comprehensive introductory course examining the organization of the genetic material in bacteria and their viruses and the molecular mechanisms involved in its maintenance, replication, exchange and expression. Emphasis will be on experimental approaches integrating classical and modern methods of genetic analysis with biochemical studies of genetic regulatory mechanisms.

MICR 607. Techniques in Molecular Biology and Genetics. 2 Hours.

Semester course; 2 lecture hours. 2 credits. Prerequisites: BIOC 530, BIOC 531, BIOC 532 or BIOC 533; or BIOC 503 and BIOC 504 or equivalent; permission of instructor. Designed to give an overview of the techniques utilized in modern molecular biology. The principles underlying techniques such as plasmid and phage cloning, RNA and DNA analysis, PCR, DNA sequencing, mutagenesis, genomic mapping, heterologous gene expression, and production and analysis of recombinant protein and transgenic mouse technology will be discussed in detail by experts in the field.

MICR 608. Introduction to Microbiology and Immunology Research. 3 Hours.

Continuous courses; lectures and 4 laboratory hours. 3-3 credits. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Required of all first-year graduate students. Introduction to all active research programs in microbiology and immunology. Presentations of research programs by investigators and rotation of students through faculty laboratories to gain direct exposure to individual research projects.

MICR 609. Introduction to Microbiology and Immunology Research. 3 Hours.

Continuous courses; lectures and 4 laboratory hours. 3-3 credits. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor. Required of all first-year graduate students. Introduction to all active research programs in microbiology and immunology. Presentations of research programs by investigators and rotation of students through faculty laboratories to gain direct exposure to individual research projects.

MICR 616. Mechanisms of Viral and Parasite Pathogenesis. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. A comprehensive introduction to the basic principles of virology and human parasitology. Interactions of the infecting agents and hosts will be stressed at the molecular and cellular level.

MICR 618. Molecular Mechanisms of Bacterial Pathogenesis. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: undergraduate-level courses in microbiology or microbial physiology, immunology and molecular genetics. The goals of this comprehensive course are to explore in detail the virulence mechanisms of microbes and the response of the infected host. The focus will be on important bacterial pathogens.

MICR 653. Advanced Molecular Genetics: Bioinformatics. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: Cell/molecular biology or permission of instructor. An advanced course on contemporary bioinformatics. Topics covered include the principles and practice of DNA, RNA and protein sequence analysis, computational chemistry and molecular modeling, expression array analysis and pharmacogenomics. The course includes lectures, reading, computer lab, homework problem sets and projects. Crosslisted as: BNFO 653.

MICR 684. Molecular Biology of Cancer. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Prerequisites: BIOC 530, BIOC 531, BIOC 532 and BIOC 533; or BIOC 503; or permission of instructor. Advanced graduate-level course to provide theoretical background to graduate students interested in cancer research. Emphasis will be placed on experimental approach integrating classical and modern methods of genetic analysis with biochemical studies in genetic regulatory mechanisms. The course includes presentations by students and interactive discussion of the scientific literature in the area of oncogenesis.

MICR 686. Advanced Immunobiology. 3 Hours.

Semester course; 3 lecture hours. 3 credits. Open primarily to residents, medical students and graduate students with an immunology background such as MICR 505. Lectures, seminars, conferences on basic and clinical immunobiology and literature review on the topic, with more emphasis on methods in immunology research and exercising the ability to communicate the topic verbally. Topics have included tumor immunology, cell interactions in the immune response, genetics of the immune response, mechanisms of host-defense and membrane receptors in immunology and neoplasia.

MICR 690. Microbiology Research Seminar. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Presentation and discussion of research reports and topics of current interest to the departmental seminar or special group seminars.

MICR 691. Special Topics in Microbiology. 1-4 Hours.

Semester course; 1-4 credits. Lectures, tutorial studies, and/or library assignments in selected areas of advanced study not available in other courses or as part of the research training.

MICR 692. Current Topics in Molecular Pathogenesis. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Open to all graduate and certificate students. Presents a forum for the discussion of recent advances in the study of the molecular mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis. Consists of presentations by students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty followed by interactive discussions of the implications of presented work to the study of molecular pathogenesis.

MICR 693. Topics in Molecular Biology and Genetics. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Open to all graduate students. Presents a forum for discussion of the scientific literature in the area of molecular biology and genetics, focusing on molecular mechanisms involved in regulation of gene expression and cell growth with examples from all three kingdoms of life. Consists of presentations by students and interactive discussions of the implications of presented work to the study of molecular biology.

MICR 694. Current Topics in Immunology. 1 Hour.

Semester course; 1 lecture hour. 1 credit. Open to all graduate students. Presents a forum for discussion of the scientific literature in the area of cellular and molecular immunology, focusing on mechanisms involved in the operation and regulation of the vertebrate immune system. Consists of presentations by students and interactive discussions of the implications of presented work to the study of immunology.

MICR 695. Special Topics in Microbiology. 1-4 Hours.

Semester course; 1-4 variable hours. 1-4 credits. Lectures, tutorial studies, library assignments in selected areas of advanced study or specialized laboratory procedures not available in other courses or as part of the research training. Graded as S/U/F.

MICR 697. Directed Research in Microbiology. 1-15 Hours.

Semester course; 1-15 credits. Research leading to the M.S. or Ph.D. degree and elective research projects for other students.