The Faculty members at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology are a major resource to their students and their community. Our professors have a variety of scientific and research backgrounds and they frequently publish their research, which is made available to the public by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Please visit our Publications section to view the latest faculty publications.
Dr. Joseph A. Bellanti is Director of the International Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Immunology at Georgetown University Medical Center and Professor of Pediatrics and Microbiology-Immunology, (Emeritus) at Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC.
Assistant Professor “Low G+C Gram-positive bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus are metabolically versatile: they can live in and on our bodies without consequence and can cause life-threatening hospital- and community-acquired infections. Genetic switches, controlled, in part, by transcription factors that bind key intracellular metabolites, govern the reconfiguration of physiology that mediates the shift between commensal and pathogenic lifestyles. The global transcriptional regulatory protein CodY is one of these genetic switches. It controls, in part, the expression of metabolic genes and, in some Gram-positive bacteria, some of the most important virulence genes.”
Richard Calderone, PhD, is Chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Director of the MS Degree Program in Biomedical Science Policy & Advocacy at The Georgetown University Medical Center. He is an internationally recognized leader in research on the human pathogen Candida albicans, the pathogenesis of invasive candidiasis, and the identification of antifungal drug targets. The research of his lab team is focused primarily on understanding gene functions related to pathogenesis, including signal transduction proteins related to cell wall synthesis, and mitochondrial energetics. Other lab research focuses upon the identification of fungal-specific antifungal drug targets. Two proteins that fulfil this requirement are mitochondrial electron transport complex I (ETC1) subunits. Their fungal gene-specificity is associated with fungal-specific functions, such as cell wall mannan polysaccharide synthesis, virulence, and immunological activity.
“My laboratory is investigating the molecular biology of viral hepatitis. Current efforts are focused on the molecular biology of hepatitis delta virus (HDV), a unique human pathogen that causes severe liver disease. There are 10 – 15 million people infected with HDV worldwide, and there is currently no therapy. The 1680nt circular HDV RNA genome is the smallest known to infect man, and produces just one protein. It is thus not surprising that HDV relies heavily on host functions and that its RNA is replete with unusual functional properties. These properties make investigating this virus particularly interesting and rewarding for both molecular virologists and RNA biologists.”
The research focus of my laboratory is the understanding of the molecular mechanisms driving immune activation in HIV infection, the major player in the pathogenesis of the infection. Immune activation leads to immune dysfunction and poor clinical outcomes. Therefore, the understanding of these mechanisms is critical to identify targets of immune intervention to restore the immune system and achieve elimination/control of the viral reservoir.
“My laboratory is examining questions pertaining to the pathogenesis of Candida albicans, as well as performing studies aimed at antifungal drug discovery. In particular, we are investigating genes that may prove to be appropriate targets useful in the development of new antifungal agents. Work entails gene isolation/functional characterization and target validation through gene knockout studies. Additionally, we are
studying the effects on nitric oxide- generating compounds, natural products, and designed chemical compounds on fungal growth and physiology.”
“The major focus of my laboratory is understanding the way in which the mucosal immune system interacts with the commensal microbiota of the oropharynx. The research team pursues longitudinal studies of mother-infant pairs from birth to age two years examining the diversity of streptococci and secretory IgA antibodies in saliva.”
Research Professor; Professorial Lecturer in Biology
Dr. Cote has been with Georgetown University since 1978. He was active as research faculty in the department since 1987 under Dr. John L. Gerin while his project was centered in Rockville, MD until 2006. Since then he relocated to the Georgetown University Medical Center Campus where he has continued his research work in hepatitis B.
Dr. Julie E. Fischer is a Research Associate Professor and co-director of the Master’s Program in Bioscience Policy and Advocacy in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Georgetown University Medical Center.
Dr. Foley is Director of the Division of Comparative Medicine, and Attending Veterinarian for Georgetown University. Dr. Foley has collaborated on a wide variety of biomedical research studies, and conducted funded research on analgesics and physiological monitoring devices, with a particular interest in sustained release analgesia. Since coming to Georgetown she has partnered with other faculty to develop One Health initiatives, and teaches in several departmental courses.
“Microbial pathogens confront diverse environments within the human host. Rapid adaptation to the physiochemical, nutritional, and other variables within these environments is paramount to the pathogen’s ability to survive and cause disease. Defining the nature of these adaptations and understanding how they contribute to virulence of the pathogen will suggest new targets for intervention and prevention of infections.
“Over the past 35 years, I have carried out research in the area of cellular and molecular immunology which was focused on defining the immunological functions of the alveolar macrophage in both animal and human model systems. During this period I supervised the dissertation research of 10 pre-doctoral students and trained 9 post-doctoral Fellows in my laboratory.”
Dr. Rebecca Katz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology and Co-Director of the Center for Global Health Science and Security at Georgetown University. Her research is focused on global health security, public health preparedness and health diplomacy.
Dr. Korba’s laboratory is focused on antiviral therapies against hepatitis B and C viruses using a variety of cell culture and enzyme-based technologies. Investigations examine a wide range of parameters (DNA, RNA, proteins), both viral and cellular utilizing a variety of molecular biology-based techniques. Studies extend from basic screening (e.g. drug discovery) to mechanisms of action.
Dr. Dongmei Li’s professional training includes 7 years of dermatology and more than 20 years of basic science research. Her clinical training is focused upon fungal infections and treatment. Since then, her research has been on fungal pathogenesis. She is currently studying mitochondria metabolic activity and its impact on candidiasis caused by the human pathogen, Candidia albicans.
Dr. Stephan Menne is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology. His research is focused on the preclinical assessment of antiviral and other therapeutic strategies in the woodchuck animal model for the management of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. He is further interested in studying innate and adaptive immunity against HBV and associated liver disease sequelae, including primary liver cancer. The overall goal is to identify viral and host targets for the development of new or improved strategies for the treatment of chronic HBV infection and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by determining the role of immune responses leading to suppression of viral replication, delay of chronic liver disease progression, and prevention of HCC development.
Dengue viruses (types 1-4), members of Flaviviridae, are transmitted by mosquito vectors, Aedes agypti and Aedes albopictus. They are recognized as the causative agents of diseases such as dengue fever, a simple self-limiting disease, to more severe forms, dengue hemorrhagic fever/dengue shock syndrome, affecting ~50-100 million people annually worldwide with thousands of fatalities. Over 40% of the world population is at risk for dengue viral infections and currently there is no effective vaccine or antiviral drug available. Moreover, infections caused by another member of the mosquito-borne Flaviviridae, West Nile virus, previously unknown in the U.S., have caused several thousand infections in birds and humans since the 1999 epidemic in New York City. My laboratory has been involved in (1) understanding the role of cis-acting RNA elements and conserved motifs in viral nonstructural (NS) proteins, involved in translation and replication of the viral genome, and (2) identification of small molecule inhibitors of the viral protease, RNA helicase, and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase.
“Dr. Rosenthal is an AIDS/cancer researcher who has focused on the association of herpesviruses with human cancer and AIDS. In September, 2002, Dr. Rosenthal, along with Dr. Lucey, co-organized the first GU/MedStar Workshop on Bioterrorism attended by over 500 students. Drs. Rosenthal and Lucey have previously co-organized a biodefense program as part of the Mini Medical School series for faculty, staff, and students and the community at large. Dr. Rosenthal is Director of the MS program in Biohazardous Threat Agents & Emerging Infectious Diseases as well as Director of the Online Certificate program in Biohazardous Threat Agents & Emerging Infectious Diseases and Co-Director of the resident certificate program in Biodefense & Public Policy.”
Dr. Erin M. Sorrell is an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology as well as a member of the Center for Global Health Science and Security and the co-director of the M.S. Biohazardous Threat Agents & Emerging Infectious Diseases program. She is currently a five-year term member at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Dr. Claire J. Standley is an Assistant Research Professor with the Center for Global Health Science and Security and the Department of Microbiology & Immunology. Her research focuses on the analysis of health systems strengthening and international capacity building for public health, with an emphasis on prevention and control of infectious diseases in both humans and animals, as well as public health emergency preparedness and response.
Felice M. Apter is an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Medical School and a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Global Development. With more than 30 years of experience in biomedical science and global health policy and programming, she has deep knowledge in advancing complex international health efforts across governmental, non-governmental, academic and philanthropic organizations.
Chris Duvall is an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, and a Senior Director at The Chertoff Group, where he focuses on cybersecurity, critical infrastructure protection, and organizational risk management as part of the Strategic Advisory Services practice area. Mr. Duvall works with individuals across the critical infrastructure sectors to assess and improve their security operations and build effective, enterprise-wide risk management capabilities.
After retiring from government service, Dr. David Goldston was a visiting lecturer at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs in 2007 and at the Harvard University Center for the Environment in 2008 and 2009. He is currently a professor at Georgetown University.
Dr. John Jacocks (COL, ret) is currently the Medical Director at Atlas Research in Washington, DC. Prior to this position, he served as Senior Medical Officer for the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), Fort Belvoir, VA. He is also an adjunct assistant professor at Georgetown University.
Lisa Jaeger is Senior Counsel at Bracewell, LLP, where she focuses on environmental and natural resources law and policy. She represents clients before regulatory agencies, in court and before Congress, working with them to resolve problems arising under laws that regulate the use of air, water, and land resources in order to protect human health and the environment.
Shane Kappler is a Clinical Instructor at Harvard Medical School in Emergency Medicine. He practices Emergency Medicine clinically at Cambridge Health Alliance in Boston and serves
as the Director of the Division of Disaster Preparedness for the CHA Department of Emergency Medicine.
Biomedical Graduate Education
Dr. Tomoko Steen is a tenured research specialist at Science, Technology and Business Division at a leading government academic agency, and an Adjunct Professor of Microbiology and Immunology at Georgetown’s School of Medicine.
board-certified in occupational medicine and is a Fellow of the American College of Preventive Medicine (FACPM) and the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (FACOEM)
Department of Health Systems Administration
Benn Tannebaum, Ph.D
Adjunct Associate Professor at Georgetown University Sandia Inc.