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Immunology and Microbial Sciences (Cluster)

The Immunology and Microbial Sciences (IMS) Cluster is a program that supports trainees after being admitted into the DGP or IBiS graduate PhD programs. The IMS Cluster strives to foster cross-campus and inter-laboratory interactions between those conducting research on microbes, the immune system, and the interface between the two fields. This is achieved in part by supporting events such as our Annual Research Day, which brings together trainees and mentors from across our Chicago and Evanston locations with interests that fall under the IMS umbrella, including those supported by several NIH-funded Training Grants, to present their work and interact with their peers here at Northwestern. In addition, together with participating Training Grant Programs, IMS helps to attract outside speakers to contribute to our annual event, as well as supporting other activities.

Trainees who participate in the IMS Cluster program conduct research that includes:

  • Microbial physiology, microbial genetics, molecular biology, and the emerging fields of genomics and synthetic biology.
  • Mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance and discovery of novel therapeutics
  • Microbial pathogenesis, including bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
  • Studies of microbial host-interactions, modulation of host cell biology, and development of disease or symbiosis
  • Mechanisms by which microbes evade innate immune responses
  • Genetics and development of a normal immune response and oral tolerance
  • Immune response to infection and tissue damage including the generation and effects of the innate and adaptive systems
  • Immune regulation, cell death and signaling
  • The role of innate and adaptive immune cells and their cytokines and chemokines in host immunity
  • Immunological diseases, including autoimmunity, inflammation, and allergy, immunodeficiency, and cancer
  • Immunotherapy

Who to Contact

The IMS program has a flexible goal to support students wishing to explore their interests in Microbiology and/or Immunology. To be eligible, during their first two years, students who participate in the IMS training program are recommended to take two entry-level courses through either DGP or IBiS in the areas of microbiology, virology or immunology, and one advanced topics course. Students should then conduct their graduate research projects in laboratories or programs that fall within the overarching interests of the IMS Cluster. In addition, students are encouraged to take part in topic specific training activities including journal clubs, research-in-progress meetings, seminars, and related Northwestern events.

For information on laboratories conducting research in IMS-related areas, please explore the DGP and IBiS PhD program websites.