About Microbiology/Welcome from the Chair
Victor DiRita, Rudolph Hugh Professor & Chair, Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics
Our department is at the forefront of the new and exciting discoveries being made in microbial ecology, microbial pathogenesis, molecular genetics, virology, genomics, immunology and cancer. In this website you will find descriptions of faculty research, training programs for undergraduate and graduate students, and the outreach functions that the department provides as part of the mission of Michigan State University.
The department is one of the largest and oldest microbiology departments in the country. The department is home to over 50 faculty members (full and joint appointments), almost 300 undergraduate majors, about 50 graduate students, 20 research associates and postdoctoral fellows, and 23 staff members. The department is unique in that we serve three medical colleges (Osteopathic Medicine, Human Medicine, and Veterinary Medicine), College of Natural Science, AgBioResearch, and other units on campus. We are the only Microbiology & Molecular Genetics department at Michigan State University but there are additional microbiologists scattered in various MSU departments.
The department houses or is closely affiliated with a number of other units both on and off campus. These include the Center for Microbial Ecology, the Ribosomal Database Program, the center for Microbial Pathogenesis, the Kellogg Biological Station LTER, the Cell and Molecular Biology Program, the Genetics Program, and the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Our faculty members have a broad range of expertise in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics covering many topics. As a brief example these areas include the ecology of soil bacteria involved in bioremediation, the interactions of hosts and pathogens, the evolution of bacterial populations, the annotation of whole genomes from bacteria to vertebrates, cell cycle regulation in breast cancer and immune responses.
Most of the faculty members are housed in the new Biomedical Physical Sciences Building. The BPS Building is the largest academic facility on campus and is linked by skyways and underground passages to the Chemistry and Biochemistry Buildings, and it is across the street from the Plant Biology and Crop and Soil Science Buildings.
Opportunities are available for undergraduates to pursue degrees that are ideal for entrance into advanced study programs, such as medical school or graduate school, or into a diverse array of infection and contamination related jobs in the pharmaceutical industry, the government or in universities. We train graduate students to go on to teaching and/or research careers in universities, government or industry. I think that you will find microbiology to be a vibrant and exciting field with many applications in the modern world. Please contact us for more detailed information about entrance requirements, scholarships and fellowships, graduate assistantships, and related matters.
Research within the department falls under four focus fields:
Microbial Evolution, Physiology, Ecology & Genetics
Molecular Pathogenesis & Infectious Diseases
Virology, Immunology, Cancer & Cell Biology
Genomics & Genetics