M&I Faculty Receive Grants

Huang-Ge ZhangM&I Professor, Dr. Huang-Ge Zhang, received a merit review award titled “RA synovial fibroblast exosomes (RA-EXo) mediated bone erosion via AhR/TRAF2pathway”. The grant, funded by Biomedical Laboratory of Research and Development, Department of Veterans Affairs, is budgeted until 2026 for a total amount of $1,032,665.


Dong Hoon ChungM&I Associate Professor, Dr. Donghoon Chung, was awarded an NIH grant titled "Midwest AViDD center – Project 5, anti-viral helicase inhibitor." The Chung lab will discover and develop antivirals targeting viral helicases of SARS-CoV2 and other potential pandemic viruses as part of the Midwest AViDD centner, one of nine Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Centers for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern established by NIH. ( Chung is awarded a total of $3.73M for next three years (2022-2055) with potential 2 years of additional funding (up to $2.7M) based on the progress and the availability of funds.

Dr. Chung also received an award titled "Mechanism of action and resistance to NHC by Chikungunya virus" to study how to address the development of broad-spectrum antivirals against emerging RNA viruses with the lethal mutagenesis theory. The grant, funded by Merck and Co., Inc., is budgeted until 2023 for a total of $312,000. 

Department Welcomes Dr. Jian Zheng

 Dr. Jian Zheng joined Microbiology and Immunology as tenure-track Assistant Professor on April 1, 2022.  Jian received his M.D. from Southern University in China and his Ph.D. in Immunology from Hong Kong University.  He carried out his postdoctoral research in Dr. Stanley Perlman’s laboratory at University of Iowa investigating host immune responses to coronaviruses and evaluating potential vaccines as well as anti-viral drugs.  He has published his findings in top tier journals including Cell, PNAS, Science Translational Medicine and Nature.  Welcome Jian!

M&I Graduate Student Receives F31 Research Fellowship

 Kelley Cooper, an M&I PhD candidate in the laboratory of Dr. Juhi Bagaitkar, has been awarded a 2-year F31 Research Fellowship from the National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research for her project entitled: "Mechanisms and immune consequences of atypical efferocytosis of neutrophils during Porphyromonas gingivalis infection."

M&I Faculty Receives NIH R21 Grant

Matthew LawrenzM&I Associate Professor, Dr. Matthew Lawrenz, was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) titled “Extracellular vesicles released in response to Yersinia pestis”. The grant, funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is budgeted until 2024 for a total amount of $430,000.

Faculty Position in Tumor Immunology Closed

Department of Microbiology & Immunology and J.G. Brown Cancer Center announce a new tenure-track Assistant Professor position. Click here to apply.

M&I Faculty Receives NIH R01 Grant

Matthew LawrenzM&I Associate Professor, Dr. Matthew Lawrenz, was awarded a National Institutes of Health R01 Grant titled " Iron independent role for yersiniabactin in Yersinia pestis." The grant, funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is budgeted until 2026 for a total amount of 2.6 million dollars.

Faculty Position in Viral Immunology Closed

Initial interviews have been concluded and selected candidates have been invited for second visits.

Department of Microbiology & Immunology and the Center for Predictive Medicine announce a new tenure-track faculty position in Infectious Disease Immunology. Click here to learn more. 

M&I Faculty Receive NIH Grants

M&I Assistant Professor, Dr. Kevin Sokoloski, was awarded a National Institute of Health R01 Grant titled "Comprehensive Definition of the Critical Role(s) of the Alphaviral Noncapped Genomic RNAs to Infection and Pathogenesis." The grant, funded by the National Institute of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is budgeted until 2025 for a total amount of 1.9 million dollars.  

M&I Associate Professor, Dr. Bing Li, renewed his National Institute of Health R01 Grant titled "E-FABP mediates n-3 fatty acid-induced tumor prevention through epigenetic control of immune cell differentiation and function." The grant, funded by the National Cancer Institute is budgeted until 2025 for a total amount of 1.8 million dollars.  

M&I Professor and Vice Chair, Dr. Haribabu Bodduluri, was awarded a National Institute of Health grant titled "Functional Microbiomics, Inflammation and Pathogenicity." The grant, funded by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, is budgeted into 2021 for a total amount of $345,000.

Dr Kevin Sokoloski     Bing Li     Dr. Bodduluri

(From left to right: Dr. Kevin Sokoloski, Dr. Bing Li, Dr. Haribabu Bodduluri) 

Department Welcomes New Staff Member

Ms. Allison Tracy, B.A. joined the Department on November 2, 2020 as our new Graduate Program Coordinator. Allison was previously an Admissions Counselor and is currently working toward a Master of Education in Student Affairs in Higher Education. Welcome Allison! 

Incoming Students of 2020 to go through e-orientation

On Monday August 10 the Department of Microbiology & Immunology will host a virtual orientation for our Fall 2020 incoming students.  Faculty who are accepting new students into their laboratories will e-present their programs.  Welcome Taylor Garrison, Michelle Hallenbeck, Katelyn Sheneman, Peter Shin, Shikha Srivastava and Cassie Woolley!

Dr. James Collins Joins M&I Faculty

Dr. James Collins Joins M&I Faculty

Dr. James Collins

Dr. James Collins joined the faculty as tenure-track Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, starting January 1, 2020.  Dr. Collins’ research focuses on the factors that underlie the spread of of epidemic, hypervirulent Clostridium difficile.  His recent discovery of the link between dietary trehalose and C difficile virulence was recently published in Nature (  Welcome James!

Department Welcomes New Staff Members

Ms. Stephanie Kittle, B.S. and Ms. Shelley Spalding, M.A., M.A.T. joined the Department on December 9 as our new Unit Business Manager and Graduate Program Coordinator, respectively.  Stephanie was the UBM at the Diabetes and Obesity Center in the School of Medicine previously.  Shelley was a student teacher at Bardstown High School prior to her current position.  Welcome Stephanie and Shelley!

M&I Ph.D student receives University ExCITE grant

Henry NabetaM& I student Henry Nabeta received an ExCITE award of $50,000 for his project "Developing Q-Griffithsin as a new anti fungal agent".  UofL’s ExCITE program is funded through the National Institute of Health’s Research Evaluation and Commercialization Hub (REACH) program. The goal of the program is to support proof-of-concept centers (hubs) that facilitate and accelerate the translation of biomedical innovations into commercial products that improve patient care and enhance health.

Department Welcomes Incoming Students of 2019

Monday, August 12, the Department of Microbiology & Immunology welcomed  the incoming M&I graduate students with a luncheon in the CTRB.  Incoming students include Richard Bautista, Easton Ford, Kamille Rasche, Omar Sarker, Caleb Whitley and Matthew Woeste.

2019 New student orientation lunch.                

M&I PhD Candidate receives NIH F31 award

PriceSarah Price, a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Matthew Lawrenz, has been awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31) from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for her PhD research entitled “Identification of a novel zinc acquisition system in Yersinia pestis”. This three year fellowship will support Sarah’s research in the field of nutritional immunity.



Dr. Bing Li appointed University Scholar

Bing LiDr. Bing Li, Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, was recognized as University Scholar in April 2019, an honor bestowed on select faculty  who significantly exceed the scholarship necessary for appointment, promotion and tenure at U of L and in doing so achieve a strong national reputation.  He is the second M&I faculty to receive this title.

2019 Research Grant Awards

 Dr. Chung received a 5 year NIH U19 award (U19-AI142762) entitled“Center of Excellence for Encephalitic Alphavirus Therapeutics”, as MPI/Project leader.




EgilmezDr. Egilmez was awarded a two year Idea Development grant (LC180086)  from the DOD Lung Cancer  Research Program for a project entitled “Overcoming Anti-PD-1 Resistance in Lung Cancer” (PI) and a 3 year R44 award from the NIH (R44-DK117687) entitled “IL-10NanoCap for Therapy of Familial Adenomatous Polyposis” (MPI).




ShirwanDr. Shirwan was awarded a two-year NIH R21 grant (R21-AI147677) entitled “Establishing immunoprivileged scaffolds for transplantation of immature beta cells.





Matthew LawrenzDr. Matt Lawrenz is co-investigator on an NIH STTR (R41-AI142726) grant entitled “Use of a Designer Proline-rich antimicrobial peptide Chaperone protein inhibitor (DPC) for treating antibiotic resistant pneumonia” with a subaward to his laboratory.  The project period is 4/1/2019 – 3/31/2020.

M&I Faculty Receive Multiple Awards in 2018

M&I Endowed Chair Professor Yousef Abu-Kwaik was recently awarded a National Institute of Health R01 grant entitled "Innate immunity and inflammatory response of macrophages to Legionella infection".  The grant received a score of 1%.  This NIH funded project is budgeted from 09/14/2018 - 08/31/2023 for $1,913,286.

M&I Associate Professor Esma Yolcu recently received a SBIR Phase I award from the National Institute of Health entitled “Exploiting activation-induced cell death as a means of inducing tolerance to kidney allografts”.  The award is a collaboration with the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

M&I Associate Professor Esma Yolcu and M&I Professor Haval Shirwan recently received a $500,000 gift in memory of William Marvin Petty, MD.  The funds are to be used to advance Type 1 Diabetes research conducted in the School of Medicine Department of Microbiology and Immunology.  Dr. Yolcu and Dr. Shirwan’s research focuses on the use of ProtEx technology, pioneered by the team, as an alternative to gene therapy for immunomodulation to treat transplant rejection and autoimmune diseases with particular focus on Type 1 Diabetes.     


M&I Professor Haval Shirwan received a five year NIH/NIAID R01 grant award in support of the application entitled “A novel immunomodulatory approach to overcome innate and adaptive immune barriers to islet transplantation”.  The project is for the period  11/5/2018 – 10/31/2023 with a total budget of $1,943,360.


M&I Associate Professor Bing Li was recently awarded a National Institute of Health R01 grant entitled "Immunomodulatory mechanisms of E-FABP in psoriasis pathogenesis".  This NIH funded project is budgeted from 09/24/2018 - 08/31/2023 for $1,925,000.


M&I Associate Professor's Matthew Lawrenz (PI) and Jonathan Warawa (Co-PI) were awarded a contract from the FDA entitled “Development of a Mouse Model for Preclinical Screening of Investigational Drugs Against Pseudomonas Aeruginosa and Acinetobacter Baumannii”.  The $933,606 award runs from 9/19/2018 to 9/18/2020.



Dr. Abu-Kwaik


Dr. Shirwan


Dr. Yolcu

Bing Li

Dr. Li

Matthew Lawrenz

Dr. Lawrenz

Jonathan Warawa

Dr. Warawa

Department is awarded first NIH T32 training grant in its history

M&I received the notice of award for its NIH T32 training grant application entitled “Inflammation and Pathogenesis Training Program” on August 1st.  Dr. Haval Shirwan (Professor, M&I) is the contact PI and Dr. Richard Lamont (Chair, Department of Oral Immunology and Infectious Disease) is the Co-PI on this award.  The grant will support 4 PhD students per year during the 5 year period 8/1/2018-7/31/2023.  This collaborative effort between M&I and OIID is the first NIH T32 training award in Department’s history.

Haval Shirwan    Lamont





Dr. Haval Shirwan         Dr. Richard Lamont

M&I Faculty Publish Back-to-Back High Impact Articles in 2018

Bing LiDr. Bing Li's discovery of a novel molecular link between obesity and breast cancer entitled "Circulating Adipose Fatty Acid Binding Protein is a Link Underlying Obesity-Associated Breast/Mammary Tumor Development," appeared in the online version of the November 2018 issue of Cell Metabolism (2017 impact factor 20.565).  The study was the result of a long-standing collaborative project between the Li lab and colleagues at the University of Minnesota, Hartford Healthcare Cancer Center in Connecticut and Peking University in China.  Separately, Dr. Bing Li was selected to be featured in NCI’s electronic newsletter, Nutrition Frontiers, a publication of the Nutritional Science Research Group (NSRG), NCI, NIH. The NSRG Program staff selected him based on the high level of enthusiasm for his research efforts on Prevention of Breast cancer Development by Epidermal Fatty Acid Binding Protein as well as his past contributions in the field of nutrition and cancer prevention.  He will be featured in the section, “Investigator Spotlight” in October.






Haval Shirwan

Dr. Haval Shirwan, along with a team of researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan published on a potential new therapy for treating Type 1 Diabetes.  This new therapy involves the use of a novel technology for islet cell transplantation.  More information regarding Dr. Shirwan's, et al., research may be found in Nature Materials (2017 impact factor 39.737).






Huang-Ge ZhangDr. Huang-Ge Zhang’s paper entitled “Plant-derived exosomal microRNAs shape the gut microbiota” has been accepted for publication in the journal “Cell Host Microbe” (2017 impact factor 17.87).  The article will be featured on the cover.   It describes the novel finding that diet-derived exosome-like nanoparticles can selectively modulate the metabolism of gut-resident bacteria via microRNA, which ultimately impacts  immune homeostasis in the gut.