The Program in Microbiology and Immunology (PMI) is an innovative program in graduate education that is administered through the School of Medicine of the University of Pittsburgh. The program aims to train highly motivated PhD students as self-reliant scholars in an environment where they have ready access to the breadth of expertise, approaches, and sub-disciplines. Students in this program will gain broad knowledge of diverse fields within microbiology and immunology which is supplemented by seminars, journal clubs and laboratory rotations. The program rapidly immerses students into a research environment, and mentors them to become independent and creative scientists.

Key Features of the PMI Include:

  • Reinforcement of formal didactic teaching with informal small group discussions led by faculty who are experts in the fields/topics being taught.
  • Faculty members in PMI are committed to graduate and postgraduate education, and to engaging students in core research effort of the faculty member’s laboratories.
  • Team teaching orientation, with courses designed with cohesive themes to facilitate students’ understanding of the material, promoting gradual conceptual progression and skill building.

The Program in Microbiology and Immunology brings together faculty in basic and translational sciences, including researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Magee-Women’s Research Institute, Rangos Research Center at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Center, and the University of Pittsburgh Dietrich School of Art and Sciences Department of Biological Sciences.

For more information, please view the PMI Handbook.


The University of Pittsburgh has a long tradition of excellence in microbiology and immunology, which is being continued and extended in the 21st century. The PMI faculty has over one hundred active members, including senior faculty with international stature and junior faculty recruited from the most productive universities and research institutes. Members' research labs are funded by grants from the NIH, NSF, and many disease-associated foundations. Program members include organizers of Keystone Symposium meetings, members of NIH study sections, and Editors of esteemed journals in their respective disciplines. Because microbiology and immunology are fields that impact many aspects of health and disease, PMI faculty members have academic appointments and co-appointments in many departments of the Medical School, including Immunology, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Pathology, Pharmacology, Medicine, Ophthalmology, Surgery, Dermatology, and Pediatrics. Many Program members also hold memberships in the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI), the Arthritis Institute, Molecular Medicine Institute, and/or the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute. This departmental inter-relatedness of the members strengthens the Program's cohesion and promotes opportunities for new collaborations among members, to address new cutting-edge research issues in microbiology and immunology.

Research conducted by PMI faculty include autoimmunity, basic immunological mechanisms, bacteriology, cancer immunology, discovery and development of novel antimicrobial therapies, host-pathogen interactions, immunology of organ transplantation, innate immunity, parasitology, viral and bacterial pathogenesis, virology. Many recent clinical breakthroughs have been achieved at Pitt that directly derive from the basic research of PMI laboratories. For example, clinical trials for the treatment of melanoma are based on new understandings of the importance of dendritic cells in initiating potent immune responses. Clinical trials to induce transplantation tolerance via bone marrow transplantation are based on new understandings of bone marrow stem cell characteristics and T lymphocyte development. Clinical trials on the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis via gene therapy are based on new understandings of the regulatory role of inflammatory cytokines in autoimmune disease. Graduate student members in PMI labs contribute directly to the success of these important projects. Most critically, the research of current and future graduate students will lead to the next generation of therapies of human disease.

For more information on the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Graduate Studies Programs as well as information about Pittsburgh, one of America's most livable cities, go to the Graduate Studies Home Page.