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Jorge Benach           


Jorge L. Benach, Ph.D.

Distinguished University Professor
Vice-Dean for Research
John S. Toll Professor of Microbiology and Immunology 
Room 233 Centers for Molecular Medicine

The major focus of our research is on the pathogenesis of spirochetal infections and their host responses, particularly in the developmental bactericidal antibodies that work independently of the complement system. These antibodies appear to be more common than previously thought, and may be a very important part of the host repertoire against bacteria. We are also interested in the interaction of spirochetal outer surface components with host proteases to enhance invasiveness, and to understand how this borrowed proteolytic activity enhances penetration of these organisms into the central nervous system.

Dr. Benach's departmental web page
Dr. Benach's publications

Martha Furie


Martha B. Furie, Ph.D.

Professor of Pathology
Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
Room 248 Centers for Molecular Medicine                

The Furie laboratory has long been interested in understanding a key event in inflammation, namely how leukocytes migrate out of blood vessels to reach tissues infected with bacteria. Study of this event has been accomplished through an in vitro model that faithfully mimics the blood vessel wall and, more recently, using in vivo models of infection. A particular focus has been on understanding the inflammatory responses elicited by Borrelia burgdorferi, the agent of Lyme disease, and Francisella tularensis, the cause of tularemia and a potential bioweapon. Dr. Furie also directs Stony Brook University's Graduate Program in Genetics and is the Senior Associate Editor of The American Journal of Pathology.

Dr. Furie's departmental web page
Dr. Furie's publications 

Wali Karzai            


A. Wali Karzai, Ph.D.

Director, Center for Infectious Diseases
Professor and Chair of Biochemistry and Cell Biology

Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
Room 244 Centers for Molecular Medicine

The overall goal of the Karzai lab is to gain new insights into how the fundamental processes of gene expression are integrated inside the cell. We seek to discover novel integrative links, and explore the biological significance and physiological contributions of these links to the fitness, survival, and virulence of pathogenic bacteria. Our current research is aimed at elucidating the mechanistic details of how the essential processes of protein translation, mRNA stability, and protein degradation are linked. We are particularly interested in investigating: 1) Molecular mechanisms that govern translation quality assurance; 2) Molecular basis for mRNA surveillance and selective nonstop mRNA decay; 3) Biochemical mechanisms of targeted proteolysis and the role of AAA+ proteases in bacterial pathogenesis; 5) Discovery of novel antibiotics and the exploration of new vaccine technologies. We use a combination of protein biochemistry, molecular genetics, functional genomics, bioinformatics, and structural approaches to determine the biological function and mechanism of action of RNA-protein complexes that participate in regulation of gene expression. Dr. Karzai is also the director of Stony Brook University's Graduate Program in Molecular Cellular Biology.

Dr. Karzai's departmental web page
Dr. Karzai's publications

Hwan Kim


Hwan K. Kim, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
Room 238 Centers for Molecular Medicine

The Kim laboratory members are deeply interested in understanding the mechanisms whereby pathogenic microorganisms cause infectious diseases. Specifically, our research focuses on identifying virulence genes whose products are essential for pathogenesis, immune escape, and vaccine protection. We study multiple microorganisms of public health significance, including Rickettsia (the causative agents of vector-borne Spotted Fever and Typhus rickettsioses), Staphylococcus aureus (responsible for antibiotic-resistant recurrent infections), and SARS-CoV-2 (the etiologic agent of COVID-19). We use combinations of techniques available for bioinformatics, genetics, molecular biology, microbiology, and immunology to gain insights into the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms of host-pathogen interactions.

Dr. Kim's departmental web page
Dr. Kim's publications 

Erich Mackow   


Erich R. Mackow, Ph.D.

Professor of Microbiology and Immunology
Room 128 Life Sciences Building

Viruses regulate cell signaling pathways dedicated to restricting viral spread and in the process engage cellular responses that direct pathogenesis. Hantaviruses and dengue viruses infect the endothelium and nonlytically cause hemorrhagic and edematous diseases by altering fluid barrier functions of the endothelium. Endothelial cells dynamically regulate fluid and immune cell emigration from capillaries while maintaining vascular integrity and vessel repair. In this setting failure is lethal and controlled by a series of fluid barrier failsafe mechanisms. The Mackow lab is focused on defining mechanisms by which hantaviruses and dengue viruses regulate innate immune responses and induce pathogenesis following nonlytic infection of endothelial cells.

Dr. Mackow's departmental web page
Dr. Mackow's publications

Nicole Sampson       


Nicole S. Sampson, Ph.D.

Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
SUNY Distinguished Professor and Chair of Chemistry
Room 659 Chemistry Building   

The Sampson laboratory has defined the mechanisms of protein catalysts that function at the sterol:lipid interface. These studies have evolved to undertake the elucidation of the mechanisms by which mycobacteria, e.g., M. tuberculosis, persist in their human host. Her laboratory is pursuing a multi-pronged approach that includes elucidating enzyme function, establishing metabolite structure and activity to identify the substrates of key enzymes, identifying small molecules that interfere with the host immune response, and developing metabolomic methods to screen these pathways for inhibitors. Of particular interest are the M. Tuberculosis pathways for cholesterol metabolism. Dr. Sampson is also the co-director of the Chemical Biology Training Program.

Dr. Sampson's departmental web page
Dr. Sampson's publications

Jessica Seeliger     


Jessica C. Seeliger, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Pharmacological Sciences
Room 448 Centers for Molecular Medicine                   

Dr. Jessica Seeliger's laboratory investigates the mechanisms of lipid membrane biogenesis in mycobacteria, especially the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). Mtb generates many structurally complex and virulence-associated lipids that have received little molecular-level scrutiny in the membrane context. The J. Seeliger group is pursuing the question of how mycobacterial lipid membranes are synthesized and assembled using a combination of protein biochemistry, microbiology and molecular genetics. Additional research areas include the development and application of riboswitch-based tools for inducible gene regulation and the attenuation of pathogenic strains by codon pair bias deoptimization.

Dr. J. Seeliger's departmental web page
Dr. J. Seeliger's publications

Brian Sheridan              


Brian S. Sheridan, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology 
Associate Professor of Pathology

Member, Stony Brook Cancer Center
Room 246 Centers for Molecular Medicine

The Sheridan laboratory is focused on understanding the mechanisms of pathogen-elicited immune responses in mucosal tissues such as the intestine. The gastrointestinal tract represents a major interface between the body and the environment and is constantly exposed to numerous antigens from food intake, commensal bacteria and pathogens. Thus, the intestinal immune system must concomitantly regulate inflammation to nonpathogenic organisms while maintaining the capacity to rapidly generate an effective pathogen specific immune response. The capacity to generate memory T cell populations and their ability to migrate to and persist in the intestinal mucosa play a critical role in protective immunity. This has underlined the importance of better understanding the mechanisms regulating the development and homeostasis of memory T cells in the intestinal mucosa. My lab utilizes recombinant Listeria that can invade the intestinal epithelium of mice thereby recapitulating the physiologic route and entry point of Listeria infection in humans. This system provides an excellent opportunity to understand the mechanisms of intestinal T cell immunity and identify paradigms of mucosally acquired human pathogens and inflammatory disorders of the gut.

Dr. Sheridan's departmental web page
Dr. Sheridan's publications

David Thanassi     


David G. Thanassi, Ph.D.

Zhang Family Professor and Chair of Microbiology and Immunology
Room 242 Centers for Molecular Medicine

Pathogenic bacteria must assemble and secrete virulence factors to interact with host cells and cause disease. The Thanassi laboratory is interested in understanding virulence protein secretion systems and the biogenesis of virulence-associated surface structures, such as the hair-like adhesive fibers termed pili. We are also investigating the functions of secreted virulence factors within the host, and the mechanisms by which these factors contribute to bacterial survival and disease. We study a variety of bacterial pathogens, including uropathogenic Escherichia coli, the predominant causative agent of urinary tract infections, and Francisella tularensis, the causative agent of tularemia and a potential bioterrorism agent. An overall goal of our studies is to develop targets for the design of novel antimicrobial agents.

Dr. Thanassi's departmental web page
Dr. Thanassi's publications

Peter Tonge


Peter J. Tonge, Ph.D.

Professor of Chemistry
Professor of Radiology (by courtesy)                           
Room 633 Chemistry Building

Research in the Tonge laboratory focuses on two major areas: (i) inhibitor discovery and the mechanism of drug action, and (ii) photoreceptor biophysics and biology. We use mechanistic enzymology to develop inhibitors of enzyme drug targets from pathogens such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Burkholderia pseudomallei, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and use techniques such as mass spectrometry and positron emission tomography to explore the role of drug-target binding kinetics in drug activity at the cellular and whole organism level. We also use biophysical methods such as ultrafast spectroscopy coupled with site-specific protein modification to understand the mechanism of photoreceptor activation as a prelude to the development of optogenetic devices. Dr. Tonge is the Director of Infectious Disease Research in the Institute for Chemical Biology & Drug Discovery, the co-Director of the Biomolecular Imaging Cluster, and the Director of the Translational Experimental Therapeutics Laboratory in the School of Medicine. Dr. Tonge is also an Associate Editor for ACS Infectious Diseases.

Dr. Tonge's departmental web page
Dr. Tonge's publications

Ando van der Velden                                    


Adrianus W. M. van der Velden, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Microbiology and Immunology

Associate Professor of Pathology
Room 240 Centers for Molecular Medicine

Research conducted in the laboratory of Dr. van der Velden has been focused on host interactions with bacterial pathogens, with an emphasis on the immunology of infection. In particular, the laboratory of Dr. van der Velden has been studying the pathogenesis of and host response to infection with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium), a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in humans worldwide. The laboratory of Dr. van der Velden uses a combination of molecular, cellular, biochemical and immunological approaches to advance knowledge of mechanisms used by S. Typhimurium to overcome the immune system.

Dr. van der Velden's departmental web page
Dr. van der Velden's publications