Alejandro Aballay, Ph.D.

The Department of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology comprises a cadre of interactive and interdisciplinary faculty with diverse expertise. The overall mission of our department involves research and education, while bringing together basic and translational efforts through close collaborations.

-Alejandro Aballay, Ph.D.

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Most Recently Recruited Faculty

Rodda Lab Gallery - Lauren Rodda, Assistant Professor, MMI

The Molecular Microbiology & Immunology department is pleased to welcome Lauren Rodda, Ph.D. as an assistant professor as of September 2023. Dr. Rodda’s research focuses on how resident memory B cells interact with their tissue niche in the respiratory tract to provide rapid, cross-reactive protection against repeat infection with respiratory pathogens including RSV, SARS-CoV-2 and influenza. In her prior work, Dr. Rodda delineated the diverse stromal populations that organize B cells functions in lymph nodes and defined the features of SARS-CoV-2-specific immune memory that distinguish infection-imprinted from vaccination-induced immunity. The Rodda Lab will employ antigen-specific flow cytometry, high-parameter microscopy and transcriptomics to study tissue resident memory B cells in both clinical samples and experimental models. Dr. Rodda’s long-term goal is to use these translational findings to inform transmission-reducing respiratory virus vaccines and reveal new therapeutic targets for lung pathologies such as asthma and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Rodda Lab



Alexis Gibson, PhD was awarded the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Hanna H. Gray Fellowship. HHMI provides each fellow with up to $1.5 million in support for up to eight years, encompassing postdoctoral training through the transition to the early career faculty stage. Under the mentorship of Isabella Rauch, PhD, Dr. Gibson is using organoid models to study how the epithelial cells that line our intestines play a central role in defense against infections and chronic conditions like inflammatory bowel disease. By examining how cell death is coordinated to maintain the epithelial barrier through the process of extrusion, we aim to understand key differences between homeostasis and inflammation. This prestigious award will help to establish Gibson as an early career biomedical researcher and lay the foundation for the development of her independent research program. 

MMI Faculty with Job Openings

Jeff Nolz, Associate Professor.  My laboratory utilizes mouse models of viral, bacterial and parasitic infections to define the cellular...more

Jonathan Pruneda, Assistant Professor. Our lab is seeking graduate researchers to join our effort to characterize how pathogenic bacteria...more

Isabella Rauch, Assistant Professor. In the Rauch lab we are interested in understanding how epithelial barrier tissues recognize...more

Fikadu Tafesse, Assistant Professor. The Tafesse lab is interested in studying the roles of cellular lipids in bacterial and viral pathogenesis...more

Alejandro Aballay, Professor & Chair. Our lab has a broad research program encompassing genetics, functional genomics and neurobiological...more

Ruth Napier, Assistant Professor. Our lab is recruiting graduate students interested in understanding the cellular and molecular...more

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Congratulations to Felicity Coulter, Dr. Fikadu Tafesse and Dr. William Messer on their recent publication in Scientific Reports, entitled, “A lyophilized colorimetric RT‑LAMP test kit for rapid, low‑cost, at‑home molecular testing of SARS‑CoV‑2 and other pathogens”.

Congratulations to Dr. Bahareh Ajami and the Ajami Lab on receiving the Alzheimer’s Association Research Grant for their project entitled: Microglia regulation of Alzheimer’s Disease pathology and progression.

Congratulations to the Rauch Lab on receiving new R01 grant funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for their project entitled: The role of the tuft cell inflammasome in infection.

Congratulations to Dr. Fikadu Tafesse and the Tafesse Lab on their recent publication in JAMA, entitled, “Antibody Response and Variant Cross-Neutralization After SARS-CoV-2 Breakthrough Infection”.

We are excited to congratulate Dr. Georgiana Purdy on her promotion to full Professor in MMI as of July 1, 2021.

We are excited to congratulate Dr. Bill Messer on his promotion to Associate Professor in MMI as of July 1, 2021.

Congratulations to Dr. Jonathan Pruneda and the Pruneda Lab! They just received funding on an R35 MIRA grant from NIGMS on their project, entitled: “Exploiting bacterial effector proteins to study human ubiquitin signaling”

Congratulations to the Nolz & Messer lab on their new publication in the Journal of Immunology, entitle, "Cellular and Humoral Immune Responses in Mice Immunized with Vaccinia Virus Expressing the SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein".

Congratulations to Dr. Ruth Napier on her project, entitled, “Understanding how the CARD9-neutrophil-Th17 axis controls ankylosing spondylitis” for being funded by the Arthritis National Research Foundation.

Congratulations to the Messer Lab and the Tafesse Lab on their recent publication in MedRxiv, entitled, “Neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 variants by convalescent and vaccinated serum."

View our news archive to see more department news and recognitions.

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