Department of Microbiology and Immunology
|Dr. Zihai Li, M.D., Ph.D.|
Professor and Chairman
By far, the greatest triumph in medicine in the history of mankind is the global eradication of smallpox through vaccination. This epic accomplishment highlights two critical missions of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at MUSC: to understand and eliminate disease-causing microbes; and to elucidate mechanisms and harness the power of the host immune system to fight against infections, cancer and other diseases. These are the principle reasons we engage in research in microbiology, immunology and cancer biology.
Our department has a long tradition of discovery in infectious diseases and immunobiology. Currently, our diverse faculty’s research interests include cancer immunology, immunogenetics, innate immunity, inflammation, autoimmunity, microbiology and transplantation immunology.
The year of 2012 marks an important chapter in the history of our department. This year will see the department move into newly renovated lab and office space on the second floor of the Basic Science Building, where our research can continue in state-of-the-art surroundings. With the new leadership in place for both the department and the College of Medicine, the department has undergone unprecedented expansion the last few years. Twelve new faculty members have been strategically recruited to complement the department’s existing expertise in the areas of cancer immunology, inflammation, immune tolerance and microbiology. These research areas have direct relevance to the prevention and treatment of a variety of human diseases, including cancer, autoimmune diseases, allergy and infectious diseases. Our faculty strives to be highly interactive and interdisciplinary, and the department fosters a close interaction between basic and clinical science. We maintain special close ties with the National Cancer Institute-designated Hollings Cancer Center through the Cancer Immunology Research Program, which allows us to have access to the state-of-the-art research facilities including a flow cytometry core, transgenic and gene-targeting core, tissue repository core, drug discovery core, and the Center for Cellular Therapy core. To understand the impact of microbiota to health and diseases, the research in our department is also supported by a unique Gnotobiotic Core in close collaboration with the College of Dental Medicine. We pursue our research goals in a programmatic and multidisciplinary fashion with the aim of improving our knowledge of the fundamentals and molecular mechanisms involved in the immune response and microbial pathogenesis, while keeping the clinical translation of this research within our vision.
Our department takes great pride in providing a rich, rigorous and stimulating intellectual environment for predoctoral graduate and medical students, as well as for postdoctoral trainees (including clinical trainees). We have developed a campus-wide interdepartmental Microbiology and Immunology Graduate Training Program with more than 40 faculty members. Prospective trainees are encouraged to browse the descriptions of our research programs on this website and contact individual faculty members directly for research opportunities. We are eager to help foster the next generation of researchers, who share our philosophy that the most effective way of learning and teaching is through research and discovery.