Curtailing the spread of infectious disease traditionally has been accomplished through use of vaccines, antibiotics, antiviral drugs, and public health measures. In the face of challenges like drug-resistant microbes and the emergence of HIV, future answers hinge on progressive research in molecular virology and microbiology.
The University of Pittsburgh has a long and storied history in microbiology. The school was instrumental in the development of the first polio vaccine, the discovery of bacterial pili, and the identification of Legionella pneumophila as the causative agent of Legionnaires' disease. Today, Molecular Virology and Microbiology faculty address a diverse array of contemporary issues relating to the molecular mechanisms governing pathogen-host interactions.
Biomedical research at the school focuses on molecular virology and on the molecular basis for infectious disease. Current investigations include the study of gene expression, mechanisms of persistence and pathogenesis, the host immune response, molecular-based strategies to combat infectious disease, and the use of viruses as vectors for human gene therapy. As a result, students in the program gain a comprehensive interdisciplinary background in modern molecular virology and microbiology with a strong underpinning in molecular biology, immunology, and biochemistry.
Faculty participating in the Molecular Virology and Microbiology program have primary appointments in the School of Medicine Departments of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics; Medicine; Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences; Ophthalmology; and Pathology. Faculty from the Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Public Health also participate, making MVM a truly interdisciplinary program. Because of the diversity of the faculty within this program, facilities are available that range from the basic (oligonucleotide and peptide synthesis; DNA and protein sequencing), to the applied (biosafety level III and transgenic animal facilities), to clinics (such as those available through Pathology; Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences; and the Allegheny County Heath Department's Sexually Transmitted Disease Clinic).
The program sponsors and promotes research seminars and annual symposia that represent research at the forefront of modern science. This program also acts as a network to coordinate and promote collaborative basic and clinical advancement of microbiology and virology, enabling transfer of new ideas and technologies among faculty laboratories to the clinical arena.