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Department of Microbiology and Immunology

Michael Schmidt, PhD

Schmidt PicProfessor and Vice Chairman of Microbiology and Immunology
Director, Office of Special Programs

1985-1989  Postdoctoral Fellowship, State University of New York at Stony Brook, Research Associate in the laboratory of Donald B. Oliver.

1985  PhD, Indiana University

Contact Info
Tel: 843-792-9532
BSB 214A

Research Interests

The 4th leading cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease, cancer and stroke, is Hospital Associated Infections (HAI) where approximately five percent of the patients admitted to US hospitals will acquire an infection.  Very little is known of what fraction of these infections result from a microbial contribution obtained from objects present in the built environment.  Currently, Dr. Schmidt is leading a team of infectious disease specialists, from three health sciences centers, and engineers, from industry, where they are assessing what role the microbes associated with objects that patients, health care workers and visitors encounter while in hospital play in the acquisition of a HAI.  Through their first interventional study they established that the intrinsic microbial burden played a significant role in the acquisition of a HAI.  Limited placement of cooper was found to reduce the burden by greater than 85% which resulted in a concomitant 58% reduction in HAI.  These data served as the basis of his recent TEDx talk.  In a related project, in collaboration with the laboratories of Drs. Gene Feigley and Jamil Kahn at the University of South Carolina and industrial partners, he is similarly evaluating the effectiveness of metallic copper for its ability to reduce the microbial burden associated with heat exchangers used to condition indoor air in order to assess the ability of metallic copper to improve indoor air quality and the efficiency with which energy is transferred.

Dr. Schmidt and his laboratory also have expertise in the molecular characterization of complex biofilms, principally those associated mixed microbial communities including those of medical significance.  The human microbiome is an evolving interest of his laboratory.  Recent work has focused on the relationship between the population distribution of the human intestinal microbiome and the genesis of colorectal cancer and the role that the microbiome of the host plays in the development of other diseases such as type II diabetes, NASH and necrotizing ulcerative colitis in a neonatal population.  

Dr. Schmidt has had an active collaboration with Dr. Kenneth D. Chavin of transplant surgery for for a number of years.  During that time they have worked towards developing an understanding of how microbes influence the outcomes associated with the implantation of livers containing various degrees of steatosis.

Biodefense preparedness has been an interest of Dr. Schmidt’s that started during the development of the antimicrobial therapy based on the use of bacteriophage to mitigate risk after exposure.  It was anticipated that the administration of a phage based therapeutic to a large number of at risk individuals would have fewer long-term consequences than the wholesale administration of antibiotics.  As such this work provided him a unique perspective from which he was able to create a series of training modules associated with the topics of bioterrorism and emerging infectious diseases as well how best to prepare for the unthinkable.  He has contributed this expertise to a project that was sponsored by HRSA where the South Carolina Area Health Education Consortium (SC-AHEC) addressed the training needs of practicing healthcare professionals for bioterrorism and public health emergency event recognition and response.  Most recently he has served as a content expert and trainer in preparing health care professionals and organizations for the issues associated with dealing with the consequences of a global pandemic of influenza.

Dr. Schmidt has been a member of the Communications Committee for the American Society for Microbiology, co-chaired the society’s career’s poster development, and helped revise the society’s public website,  Presently he is chair of the Branch Organization Committee for the Society.  He has led numerous, national workshops on the use of computers for instruction in medicine and microbiology and infectious diseases, has been a panelist on Science Friday broadcasted by National Public Radio and has been a content editor for Microbeworld radio, a daily radioshow/podcast produced by the society for the general public and most recently as one of the regular contributors to the podcast series This Week In Microbiology (TWiM), hosted by Vincent Racaniello.   

Recent Publications | Additional Publications

Analyzing Dental Students' Clinic Production Using Time-Based Relative Value Units: Ten-Year Cross-Cohort Mapping.
Watkins RT Jr., Conn LJ, Gellin RG, Gonzales TS, Hamil LM, Cayouette MJ, Schmidt MG.
J Dent Educ. 2018 Mar;82(3):260-268. doi: 10.21815/JDE.018.025.

Antimicrobial surfaces to prevent healthcare-associated infections: a systematic review - a different view.
Schmidt MG, Salgado CD, Freeman KD, John JF, Cantey JR, Sharpe PA, Michels HT.
J Hosp Infect. 2018 Feb 12. pii: S0195-6701(18)30099-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jhin.2018.02.007. [Epub ahead of print] No abstract available.

Antimicrobial copper alloys decreased bacteria on stethoscope surfaces.
Schmidt MG, Tuuri RE, Dharsee A, Attaway HH, Fairey SE, Borg KT, Salgado CD, Hirsch BE.
Am J Infect Control. 2017 Jun 1;45(6):642-647. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2017.01.030. Epub 2017 Mar 13.

Copper alloy surfaces sustain terminal cleaning levels in a rural hospital.
Hinsa-Leasure SM, Nartey Q, Vaverka J, Schmidt MG.
Am J Infect Control. 2016 Nov 1;44(11):e195-e203. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2016.06.033. Epub 2016 Sep 28.

Perspectives from the field in response to "It is time to revise our approach to registering antimicrobial agents for health care settings".
Schmidt MG, John JJ Jr, Freeman KD, Sharpe PA, Estelle AA, Michels HT.
Am J Infect Control. 2016 Oct 1;44(10):1187-1189. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2016.04.249. Epub 2016 Aug 9. No abstract available.

Potential effectiveness of copper surfaces in reducing health care-associated infection rates in a pediatric intensive and intermediate care unit: A nonrandomized controlled trial.
von Dessauer B, Navarrete MS, Benadof D, Benavente C, Schmidt MG.
Am J Infect Control. 2016 Aug 1;44(8):e133-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2016.03.053. Epub 2016 Jun 16.

Antibacterial Diamines Targeting Bacterial Membranes.
Wang B, Pachaiyappan B, Gruber JD, Schmidt MG, Zhang YM, Woster PM.
J Med Chem. 2016 Apr 14;59(7):3140-51. doi: 10.1021/acs.jmedchem.5b01912. Epub 2016 Mar 28.

Copper surfaces are associated with significantly lower concentrations of bacteria on selected surfaces within a pediatric intensive care unit.
Schmidt MG, von Dessauer B, Benavente C, Benadof D, Cifuentes P, Elgueta A, Duran C, Navarrete MS.
Am J Infect Control. 2016 Feb;44(2):203-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ajic.2015.09.008. Epub 2015 Nov 6.

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