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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

Palanisamy AP, Cheng G, Evans ZP, Polito C, Jin L, Liu J, Schmidt MG, and Chavin KD. 2014. Mithochondrial uncoupling protein 2 induces cell cycle arrest and necrotic cell death.  Metab Syndr Relat Disord 12:132-42.

Salgado CD, Sepkowitz KA, John JF, Cantey JR, Attaway HH, Freeman KD, Sharpe PA, Michels HT, and Schmidt MG. 2013. The environment and healthcare-acquired infections: why accurate reporting and evaluation of biological plausibility are important, a rebuttal. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 34(9):997-999.

Salgado CD, Sepkowitz KA, John JF, Cantey JR, Attaway HH, Freeman KD, Sharpe PA, Michels HT, and Schmidt MG. 2013. Copper surfaces reduced the rate of healthcare-acquired infections. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 34(5): 479-486.

Salgado CD, Sepkowitz KA, John JF, Cantey, JR, Attaway HH, Freeman KD, Sharpe PA, Michels HT, and Schmidt MG. 2013. The environment and healthcare-acquired infections: why accurate reporting and evaluation of biological plausibility are important, a rebuttal. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 34(9):997-999.

Feigley CE, Khan JA, Salzberg D, Hussey J, Attaway HH, Steed LL, Schmidt MG, and Michels HT. 2013. Experimental tests of copper components in ventilation systems for microbial control.  American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers HVAC& R Research. 19:53-62.

Schmidt MG, Attaway HH, Fairey SE, Steed LL, Michels HT, and Salgado CD. 2012. Copper continuously limits the concentration of bacteria resident on bed rails within the ICU. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 34(5):530-533.

Schmidt MG, Anderson T. Attaway H, Fairey S, Kennedy C, and Salgado C. 2012. Patient environment microbial burden reduction: A pilot study comparison of two terminal cleaning methods. Am J of Infect Control 40:559-561.

Schmidt MG, Attaway HH, Sharpe PA, John J, Sepkowitz KA, Morgan A, Fairey SE, Singh S, Cantey JR, Freeman KD, Michels HT, and Salgado CD. 2012. Reduction of nosocomial microbial burden through the introduction of antimicrobial copper touch surfaces. Journal of Clinical Microbiology 50:2217-2223.

Schmidt MG, Attaway HH, Terzeva S, Marshall A, Steed LL, Salzberg D, Hamoodi H, Kahn J, Feigley CE, and Michels HT. 2012. Characterization and control of the microbial community affiliated with copper or aluminum heat exchangers of HVAC systems. Current Microbiology 65:141-149.

Attaway HH, Fairey SE, Steed LL, Salgado CD, Michels HT, and Schmidt MG. 2012. Intrinsic bacterial burden associated with ICU hospital beds: Effects of disinfection on population recovery and mitigation of potential infection risk. Am J Infection Control 40:907-912.

Rai S, Hirsch BE, Attaway HH, Nadan RN, Hardy J, Miller G, Armellino D, Moran W, Sharpe P, Estelle A, Michel JH, Michels HT, and Schmidt MG. 2012. Evaluation of the antimicrobial properties of copper surfaces in an outpatient infectious disease practice. ICHE 33:200-201.

Evans ZP,  Palanisamy AP, Sutter AG, Ellett JD, Ramshesh VK, Attaway H, Schmidt MG, Schnellmann RG, and Chavin KD. 2011. Mitochondrial uncoupling protein-2 deficiency protects steatotic mouse hepatocytes from hypoxia/reoxygenation. Am J Physio - Gastrointest Liver Physiol 302:336-342. 

Sharpe PA and Schmidt MG. 2011. Control and mitigation of healthcare acquired infections: Designing clinical trials to evaluate new materials and technologies. Health Environments Research & Design (HERD) 5:94-115. 

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