• 41st Jim McGinnis Memorial Lecture
    March 29, 2019

    The Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology hosted the Forty-first year of the Annual Jim McGinnis Memorial Lecture on March …

  • MGM 2019 Retreat, September 6-8
    February 18, 2019

    The 2019 Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiolgy’s Annual Retreat will again be held at the Blockade Runner Resort in …

  • 2018 MGM Faculty Search
    August 17, 2018

    Tenure-track Faculty Position (Assistant/Associate/Full Professor) Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology Duke University School of Medicine Applications are invited for …


Martinez featured on Duke Health News for a recent study published in Cell. David Martinez, PhD, Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology along with Dr. Sallie Permar conducted research focusing on improving maternal vaccines that also protect newborns.  To read more about the research, click here. To read the full manuscript, click here.

Congratulations to Audrey Odom. Congratulations to Audrey Odom, first undergraduate to work in Joseph Heitman’s lab and alumni of Duke University, on becoming the new Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Odom is currently an Associate Professor at Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics. There her lab aims to improve the fundamental understanding of the basic molecular and cellular biology of the malaria parasite.

Congratulations to the MGM PhD graduates! They successfully defended between Summer 2018-Spring 2019 and celebrated with the Duke hooding and Graduation ceremonies (May 11-12, 2019): Hilary Renshaw, Helen Lai, Rafael Campos, Sarah Jaslow, Dora Posfai, Shannon McNulty, David Martinez, Ross Walton, Arifuzzaman Mohammad, Ryan Finethy, Pohan Chen, Katelyn Walzer, Chien-Kuang Ding, Angelo Moreno, Allison Roder, Kaila Pianalto, Caitlin Murdoch and Justin Silverman. See pictures of the hooding ceremony here. Best wishes and much happiness to all of the graduates!

Brook Heaton promoted to Assistant Research Professor. Congratulations to Brook Heaton on being promoted to Assistant Research Professor.

Brook’s research interests focus on uncovering new viral restriction factors using CRISPR screening technology.  By utilizing both WT influenza viruses and viral reporters she aims to find inhibitors that work at every step of the viral lifecycle.

Jinks-Robertson elected to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. Sue Jinks-Robertson, Professor and co-Vice Chair in the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, was one of two Duke Faculty members elected to the National Academy of Sciences, which is widely considered one of the highest honors a scientist can receive. Sue joins 2 other MGM faculty members, Tom Petes, PhD and Bill Joklik, PhD who were previously elected to the National Academy of Sciences.  To read more about this honor click here.

Alspaugh appointed Vice Chair for Academic Affairs. Andrew Alspaugh, MD, Professor in Medicine (Infectious Diseases), agreed to serve as Vice Chair for Academic Affairs in the Department of Medicine effective April 1, 2019. Dr. Alspaugh will focus on the oversight of the Department’s appointment, promotion, and tenure process in conjunction whit the associate vice chair for academic affairs.


photo of Bill SteinbachSteinbach elected to the Association of American Physicians.  William Steinbach, MD, Professor in the Department of Pediatrics was elected into the Association of American Physicians (AAP) during a joint meeting on April 6th of the AAP, the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), and the American Physician-Scientists Association (APSA).  Dr. Steinbach was one of 4 Duke physicians to receive this honor.  To read more about Dr. Steinbach’s research, click hereDuke Pediatrics news release.

Letourneau receives prestigious NSF GRFP Fellowship. Congratulations to Jeff Letourneau, MGM Graduate Student in Lawrence David’s lab, on being awarded this fellowship. The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. Jeff is interested in understanding how complex communities of microbes cooperate and compete in the breakdown of dietary fiber in the human gut. In his research, he is using in vitro models to explore how habitual fiber consumption and gut microbiome composition affect an individual’s capacity to derive health benefits from fiber supplementation. He is also leading an upcoming human study to test the effects of increased fiber intake on behavior and cognition.

Heitman and Cowen awarded a CIFAR research program on Fungal Kingdom: Threats & Opportunities
Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD, James B. Duke Professor and Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Duke University and Leah Cowen, PhD, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Microbial Genomics and Infections and Chair of the Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto received a Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) research program award in the interdisciplinary area of the Fungal Kingdom: Threats & Opportunities. Dr. Heitman and Dr. Cowen are co-directors for this new program, The Fungal Kingdom. The goal of the Fungal Kingdom program is to address threats of fungi to humans, animals, and plants/agriculture/food security, and to develop ways to mitigate these threats. More detail on the program is available here: https://www.cifar.ca/research/global-call/fungal-kingdom.

CIFAR is a Canadian-based, global charitable organization that assembles extraordinary research leaders to address science and humanity’s most significant challenges. CIFAR funds collaborative networks of scientists in the range of 15 to 25 investigators who come together over a sustained period of time (programs are funded in five-year increments) to solve important problems. The global call for applications (https://www.cifar.ca/research/global-call) announced 4 new programs and 4 returning programs. CIFAR received 120 proposed new programs, 12 finalists were chosen, and four were selected for funding, including the Fungal Kingdom: Threats & Opportunities program.   To read the CIFAR news release click here.

Marchuk receives 2019 Research Mentoring Award for basic science research. Douglas Marchuk, James B. Duke Professor, has been announced as the 2019 recipient of the School of Medicine Basic Research Mentoring Award. The Research Mentoring Awards were created in 2009 to honor outstanding research mentors in the Schools of Medicine and Nursing.  Winners of this award demonstrate excellence in numerous aspects of mentoring, including accomplishments of individual mentees, programs implemented by the mentor, or by exceptional creativity in mentoring.

Doug was nominated for this award by his current and former students, fellows, and faculty colleagues who highlighted the various ways in which Doug has mentored trainees and junior faculty alike. Doug was co-Director of the University Program in Genetics and Genomics from 2002-2009 and director from 2009-2014, as well as the founding Director of the Division of Human Genetics. He has been the course director of the Human Genetics course (MGM732) for many years and founded the highly impactful grant writing course (MGM702) that has benefited students across the basic sciences and engineering departments. In his own lab, Doug has mentored many undergraduates, graduate students, MSTP students, and postdoctoral fellows. His trainees have gone on to successful careers in academic research, academic administration, patient advocacy, and medicine. Doug is also a staunch supporter of his faculty colleagues, particularly junior faculty, advocating for their research programs and professional development and serving on tenure committees. Doug’s tireless dedication to education, mentoring, training, and science is inspiring.

This well-deserved award will be presented to Doug by Dean Mary Klotman at the annual Spring Faculty Meeting to be held at the Doris Duke Center, Duke Gardens on Wednesday, May 8th at 5pm.

Alspaugh receives 2019 Golden Apple Award. Andrew Alspaugh, MD, Professor of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, has received the 2019 Golden Apple Award. The Golden Apple Awards are the highest teaching awards presented by the Duke University School of Medicine student body to recognize outstanding dedication to medical student education.

Andy has been directing the medical school microbiology course for the past 6 years, and and describes it as a highlight of his experiences.  Andy’s primary appointment is in the Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, and his secondary appointment is in MGM.  Andy is quite active in graduate student education and his lab alumni are excelling as independent investigator faculty members (Liz Ballou, the University of Birmingham), and in exemplary post-doctoral experiences (Teresa O’Meara with Leah Cowen and Suzanne Noble, and Kyla Ost with June Round), in addition to the  students in his lab (Shannon Esher who graduated last year and is doing a postdoc at Tulane, Kaila Pianalto who defended recently, Hannah Brown who recently received a priority score of 10 on her F31 NIH fellowship, and Calla Telzrow).  Andy also serves as the co-director for the Tri-Institutional Molecular Mycology and Pathogenesis Program (Tri-I MMPTP) and was a course director for five years for the Molecular Mycology course at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory.

To read more, click here.


Brown awarded Jo Rae Wright Fellowship. Congratulations to Hannah Brown, MGM Graduate student in Alspaugh’s Lab, on being offered the Jo Rae Wright Fellowship for Outstanding Women in Science for academic year 2019-2020.

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