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Emerging Infectious Diseases

Changes in ecology – whether they are a result of deforestation, enhanced global transportation and commerce, or practices within a hospital—have the potential to expose humans to grave new threats from infectious microorganisms that might cause catastrophic morbidity and mortality.  Sometimes outbreaks occur and then fizzle out as happened with the SARS coronavirus in 2003, while other times novel virus strains circulate globally, as occurred in the 2009 influenza pandemic. Thus, research programs within the department seek to understand the biology of infectious microorganisms and the immune defense mechanisms that arise (or fail to develop) to keep such microorganisms at bay. 

Areas of interest include studies on the following microorganisms:  Acinetobacter, Neisseria, Clostridium, influenza strains, gammaherpes viruses, HIV, dengue fever virus, yellow fever virus, and others.