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Committee on Microbiology

This is an archived copy of the 2012-13 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit


  • Olaf Schneewind


  • Kenneth Alexander, Pediatrics
  • Joy Bergelson, Ecology & Evolution
  • Eugene B. Chang, Medicine
  • Robert Daum, Pediatrics
  • Tatyana Golovkina, Microbiology
  • Jean Greenberg, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Robert Haselkorn, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Tao Pan, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology
  • Bernard Roizman, Microbiology
  • Raymond Roos, Neurology
  • Lucia Rothman Denes, Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology
  • Olaf Schneewind, Microbiology
  • Howard Shuman, Microbiology
  • Wei Jen Tang, Ben May Department for Cancer Research

Associate Professors

  • Alexander Chervonsky, Pathology
  • Joseph Kanabrocki, Microbiology
  • James Mastrianni, Neurology
  • Dominique Missiakas, Microbiology
  • Glenn Randall, Microbiology

Assistant Professors

  • Juliane Bubeck Wardenburg, Pediatrics and Microbiology
  • David Boone, Medicine
  • Sean Crosson, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Balaji Manicassamy, Microbiology


The primary purpose of the Committee on Microbiology is to produce research scientists and teachers in microbiology by offering formal instructions; by fostering informal dissemination of information among the faculty, fellows and students engaged in research in microbiology; and by administering a program of study leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Through its faculty, activities and educational program, the Committee on Microbiology integrates studies in various clinical and non clinical departments of the Division of the Biological Sciences.  The Committee on Microbiology maintains maximum flexibility in its program to cater to students developing interests. Students with backgrounds in any appropriate field (physics, chemistry, biology, biochemistry, and medicine) may commence work in microbiology upon entering the graduate program of the Division of the Biological Sciences. The Committee on Microbiology sponsors a seminar series, which brings to campus prominent microbiologists from all over the world to discuss their research and meet with Microbiology faculty and students. Another regular activity sponsored by the Committee is the Microbiology Data Club. Data Club meetings feature a current graduate student, postdoctoral fellow or other training fellow in Microbiology presenting his/her research data. Microbiology Data Club meetings are open to the University community, offering an informal forum for the discussion of microbiology within the Chicago scientific community.

The Committee on Microbiology is a member of the Biomedical Sciences Cluster, which also houses graduate programs of the Committee on Cancer Biology, the Committee on Immunology, the Committee on Molecular Metabolism and Nutrition, and the Department of Pathology’s Molecular Pathogenesis and Molecular Medicine Graduate Program. The five academic units share a joint admissions committee, several courses, a seminar series and other events for students and faculty within the cluster. The goal of the cluster system is to encourage interdisciplinary interactions among both trainees and faculty, and to allow students flexibility in designing their particular course of study.The Ph.D. degree is administered by the Committee on Microbiology and is recommended when the student has fulfilled the requirements stipulated in his individual program; has met the divisional requirements for the degree; and, in the opinion of the committee, has attained competence in research in his or her field of specialization.

Microbiology Courses

MICR 30600. Fundamentals of Bacterial Physiology. 100 Units.

This course meets one of the requirements of the microbiology specialization (BIOS 25256). This course introduces bacterial diversity, physiology, ultra-structure, envelope assembly, metabolism, and genetics. In the discussion section, students review recent original experimental work in the field of bacterial physiology.

Instructor(s): D. Missiakas     Terms Offered: Autumn
Prerequisite(s): BIOS 20181, 20191, or 20239/20234; or consent of instructor
Equivalent Course(s): BIOS 25206

MICR 31200. Host Pathogen Interactions. 100 Units.

This course explores the basic principles of host defense against pathogens, including evolutionary aspects of innate and adaptive immunity and immune evasion strategies. Specific examples of viral and bacterial interactions with their hosts are studied in depth. A review of immunological mechanisms involved in specific cases is incorporated in the course.

Instructor(s): A. Chervonsky     Terms Offered: Autumn
Equivalent Course(s): IMMU 31200

MICR 31600. Molecular Basis of Bacterial Diseases. 100 Units.

This course meets one of the requirements of the microbiology specialization. This lecture/discussion course involves a comprehensive analysis of bacterial pathogens, the diseases that they cause, and the molecular mechanisms involved during pathogenesis. Students discuss recent original experimental work in the field of bacterial pathogenesis.

Instructor(s): J. Martinez     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Completion of the general education requirement in the biological sciences
Equivalent Course(s): BIOS 25216

MICR 34000. Bacterial Pathogenesis. 100 Units.

Bacterial pathogens of human, animal and plant organisms, their infectious strategies and molecular mechanisms of causing disease.

Instructor(s): D. Missiakas, O. Schneewind, H. Shuman     Terms Offered: Winter
Prerequisite(s): Completion of the general education requirement in the Biological Sciences. Consent required.

MICR 34600. Introduction to Virology. 100 Units.

This class on animal viruses considers the major families of the viral kingdom with an emphasis on the molecular aspects of genome expression and virus-host interactions. Our goal is to provide students with solid appreciation of basic knowledge, as well as instruction on the frontiers of virus research.

Instructor(s): T. Golovkina, B. Roizman     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): Completion of the general education requirement in the biological sciences and third- or fourth-year standing
Equivalent Course(s): BIOS 25287,GENE 34600

MICR 35900. Medical Microbiology. 125 Units.

Provides an overview of the clinically important microorganisms and their role in the causation of human infectious disease. The objectives of the course are to discuss mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis and host manifestations of disease, provide knowledge of the common organisms associated with specific infectious disease presentations as foundation for a system (organ)-based approach to diagnosis, and to describe the role of the clinical diagnostic laboratory in identification of pathogens and disease management. Lectures are held three days a week in 50-minute periods. Additionally, students attend weekly laboratory sessions during the quarter and participate in student-led case-based discussion groups with a faculty preceptor on a weekly basis. Two multiple-choice exams are administered, as well as a final laboratory practical exam and several laboratory quizzes.

Instructor(s): J. Benoit, G. Randall, O. Schneewind     Terms Offered: Spring 2012
Prerequisite(s): Second year medical students only or consent of instructor

MICR 39000. Introduction to Experimental Microbiology. 100 Units.

The Committee on Microbiology will host a seminar series comprised of seven to ten presentations by faculty invited from other institutions.  A reading and discussion session will accompany the seminar series. In the session, which meets for one hour on a day preceding each week's seminar, first year graduate students will discuss with their peers and a Microbiology faculty member three original research papers of the invited speaker.  Following the seminar and the conventional question and answer period, first year graduate students of the Committee on Microbiology are invited to question the speaker on her or his research and to discuss their own research for a period of 1 hour.  In this manner, we will provide students with an intellectual environment that reveals the discovery process and research frontiers in various laboratories and fields.  First year graduate students are required to register for the course.

Instructor(s): O. Schneewind     Terms Offered: Autumn, Winter, and Spring

MICR 40000. Microbiology Research Forum. 100 Units.

All graduate students and honors undergraduate students of the Committee on Microbiology will present their research in a central forum, the data club, once each year. Students and postdoctoral fellows present their recent research data for critical evaluation by the faculty of the Committee on Microbiology.  This course provides a forum to ensure continued progress of graduate students in their thesis projects.  First year graduate students are required to register for the course.

Instructor(s): O. Schneewind     Terms Offered: Autumn, Winter, and Spring