Ilhem Messaoudi, PhD, Professor and Chair, Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics

Welcome to the University of Kentucky College of Medicine Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics. On Nov. 1, 2021, I moved across the country to join this engaged and collegial community of microbiologists and immunologists who study microbial pathogenesis and the host defense against infectious diseases and cancer, as well as inflammation in the context of a variety of human diseases. 

Our 22 primary tenured/tenure track faculty are joined by three research track faculty and several adjunct faculty from the Colleges of Dentistry, Agricultural, Food, and Environment, and Pharmacy and other basic and clinical departments from the College of Medicine. Our research portfolio consists of basic and translational research studies that leverage access to both clinical specimens and animal models. The development of powerful new genetic and molecular technologies now makes it possible to answer fundamental questions in these areas that were previously intractable. Departmental expertise and interests include investigating:

  • Cellular and molecular basis of microbial pathogenesis;
  • Role of microbial communities in health and disease;
  • Host response to infections including emerging diseases;
  • Immune response to cancer; and,
  • Development of novel vaccine strategies.  

The department is also home to a state-of-the-art flow cytometry and immune monitoring core facility that supports research efforts within the department and the University at large. Efforts are currently underway to renovate the existing Biosafety Level 3 core facility to accommodate further study of high containment pathogens.

The department is devoted not only to research but also training the next generation of scientists through high school outreach programs and mentoring of undergraduate student, graduate students, and post-doctoral fellows. Students pursuing a PhD in microbiology and immunology enroll via the integrated biological sciences or pharmaceutical sciences programs. We also welcome students enrolled in the Master of Science in medical sciences program. During the first year, graduate students pursue a set of core courses followed by the selection of courses tailored to their interests and thesis research priorities in the second year. Courses, seminars, and journal/data clubs are structured to enhance interactions between trainees and faculty with different research interests. Finally, we are fortunate to have the support of a superb group of research assistants and administrative staff. 

The University of Kentucky is located in the heart of Lexington, home to a thriving, cosmopolitan community that offers many venues to explore nature, enjoy collegiate sport events, and take part in diverse cultural activities. We encourage you to explore the web pages of the individual faculty and look forward to welcoming new members to our community who share the department’s commitment to fostering collaboration and mutual enrichment as well as the principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion.

I am very proud to have serve as chair for this outstanding group of scientists and look forward to the tremendous growth that our department will undergo over the next few years. We hope you enjoy reading more about our research efforts and please reach out to any of us if you’d like learn more about the exciting endeavors underway.

Ilhem Messaoudi, PhD 
Professor and Chair
Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics