Microbiology, Infection & Immunity

To understand diverse microorganisms, their pathogenesis and resultant immune responses, research in MCB probes microbial physiology, the composition and function of microbiomes, innate and adaptive immunity, and translational strategies. This research and work helps us predict infection epidemics, design better therapies and reengineer host and microbe for improved health and industry.

Area Directors

Area Directors help advise students about classes and rotations in their interest area. They also provide a listing of suggested courses for those interested in Microbiology, Infection & Immunity.

Faculty Area Directors

Student Area Directors

Suggested Curriculum

The suggested curriculum outlined below is meant to guide you in choosing classes, they are not requirements. We highly encourage you to take the Foundational courses, while the Electives are more specialized and often cross between Areas of Interest. Remember to review the UW Time Schedule for the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding whether a course is currently being offered.

2022-2023 Suggested Curriculum (document download)

This track is broadly divided into the related sub-tracks of immunology, virology, and bacteriology. The foundational courses include two courses focused on each sub-track, denoted as 1=Immunology, 2=Virology, and 3=Bacteriology. Interested students can focus on one sub-track or mix and match from these sub-tracks depending on their specific area of research. Area directors or more senior MCB students can discuss these sub-tracks with interested first-year students.

Foundational Course 1A: IMMUN 532 – Intersection of innate and adaptive immunity in disease (“Advanced Immunology”)

This is the primary graduate-level survey of immunology. Many lectures are given by guest lecturers from the Dept. of Immunology who are renowned experts in these topics. Lectures are complemented by discussion and critique of relevant primary literature. Prerequisite: Undergraduate immunology course (e.g. IMMUN 441), or equivalent.
Offered WIN, 4.0 credits, Offered every year

Foundational Course 1B: IMMUN 537 – Immunological Methods

This course covers key methods required for immunological research. Prerequisite: Undergraduate Immunology course (e.g. IMMUN 441), or equivalent.
Offered WIN, 4.0 credits, Offered every year

Foundational Course 2A: MCB 532 – Human Pathogenic Viruses

Replication, regulation, and pathogenesis of several groups of human viruses, including human immunodeficiency virus and papillomaviruses. Emphasis on the unique aspects of the viral-like cycles as they relate to effects on infected cells and organisms. Guest lecturers focus on viral immunology, measles. herpes simplex virus, and HHV-8.
Offered AUT, 3.0 credits, Offered odd-numbered years, Will be offered in AUT 2023

Foundational Course 2B: MICROM 540 – Virology

The molecular biology, transmission, and pathogenesis of human viruses will be explored. In addition to general principles of virology, lectures and paper discussions will focus on specific human pathogens including HIV, herpesviruses, ebolaviruses, alphaviruses, and adenoviruses, among others.
Offered AUT, 3.0 credits, Offered even years

Foundational Course 3A: CONJ 558 – Prokaryotic Biology

Basic principles in prokaryotic cell structure, genomics, and metabolism. Introduction to prokaryotic physiology, bacterial pathogenesis, and microbial ecology.
Offered WIN, 3.0 credits, Course not currently being offered

Foundational Course 3B: CONJ 558 – Molecular Interactions of Bacteria with their hosts

The processes bacteria employ to shape interactions with their hosts will be explored in molecular detail through selected examples in the literature.
Offered SPR, 3.0 credits, Offered odd-numbered years

CONJ 539 – Modern Approaches to Vaccines

Covers selected topics based on recent publications in viral and bacterial vaccine research. Emphasizes understanding the latest advanced and issues in vaccine discovery, mechanisms of action, and special topics in viral vaccines.
Offered AUT/SPR, 1.5 credits, Offered every year

CONJ 549 – Population Biology of Microorganisms

Principles of ecology and evolution as they apply to microorganisms.
Offered SPR, 1.5 credits, Offered even-numbered years

CONJ 557 – Microbial Evolution

Selected topics in microbial evolution including evidence for early life on Earth, molecular mechanisms of bacterial and viral evolution, speciation, adaptive niche differentiation, bioinformatics tools to detect selection, and evolution of the virulence and pandemic spread. Prerequisite: MICROM 412 or general biology background.
Offered AUT/SPR, 1.5 credits, Offered every year, Course not currently being offered

GLOBAL HEALTH 566 – Biochemistry and Genetics of Pathogens and Their Hosts

Provides a strong foundation in biochemistry, molecular biology, and genetics for students interested in disease. Principles illustrated through examples focusing on pathogens, and infectious and non-infectious disease. Note: offered jointly with PABIO 551A.
Offered AUT, 3.0 credits, Offered every year

IMMUN 441 – Basic Immunology

This is an undergraduate class that presents a complete introduction to immunology. MCB students interested in this topic who have not taken a basic immunology course are encouraged to take or audit this course in preparation for more advanced immunology courses. Students must obtain approval from the MCB Co-Directors for this 400-level class to count toward their 18-graded credits.
Offered AUT, 4.0 credits, Offered every year

IMMUN 538 – Immune-based diseases and treatments

This course focuses on the role of the immune system in both causing and resolving disease. Topics include autoimmune disease, infection, and cancer immunology. Each class includes both a lecture component and a discussion of relevant primary literature.
Offered SPR, 2.0 credits, Offered every year

PABIO 552 – Cell Biology of Human Pathogens and Disease

Cell biology and immunology explored through diseases of public health importance. Examples of pathogen interaction with host cell biology and immune systems, unique aspects of the cell biology of pathogens, perturbations of these systems in non-infectious diseases, and design of therapeutics and vaccines to combat diseases of public health importance.
Offered WIN, 3.0 credits, Offered every year


Microbes and the fight to contain them

Dr. Harmit Malik, an HHMI investigator, explores how organisms create and resolve conflict.

Seattle MCB combines leaders in microbiology, immunology, host-pathogen response and autoimmunity from premier institutions and departments including: