• Congratulations to the 2021 MGM Graduates
    June 2, 2021

    Dr. Alex Antonia defended his doctoral thesis, “Understanding Mechanisms and Diversity of Leishmania-Mediated CXCL10 Suppression,” on April 15, 2020. Alex …

  • 2021-2022 MGM WIP Seminar Series
    May 18, 2021

    Please click here for the MGM Monday Works-in-Progress Seminar series for next academic year

  • 2021 MGM Graduate students
    April 21, 2021

    Congratulations to MGM’s new incoming 2021 Graduate Students: Alexandria Bartlett Rhodry Brown Rob Davidson Emma Heckenberg Dasean Nardone-White Jessica Portillo …



Brewer awarded an NIH F31 National Research Service Award. Jared Brewer, a PhD student in the Tobin lab, was recently awarded an F31 Individual Pre-doctoral Fellowship from NIH/NHLBI to support his research on macrophage signaling pathways that mediate angiogenesis during mycobacterial infections.


How Much Fiber Should You Eat? Letourneau highlighted in Duke School of Medicine’s Magnify magazine. Jeff Letourneau, a PhD student in Lawrence David’s laboratory, is exploring how day-to-day dietary variation in terms of grams of fiber, types of fiber, and size of food particles, influences the community composition and metabolic functions of an individual’s microbiome.

To read the full article click here.

Ramirez receives a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research (Parent F31-Diversity). Zeni Ramirez, MGM PhD candidate working in the Surana Lab has received an F31-Diversity award to NIAID in her first submission. The title of Zeni’s proposal was “Characterizing and Exploiting Ruminococcus gnavus mediated induction of antimicrobial peptides”. This award will support her research in investigating the host and bacterial molecular mechanisms that underlie the effects of a commensal bacterial isolate’s unique ability to mediate expression of antimicrobial peptides and investigate it’s use in treatment and protection from infections due to antimicrobial-resistant pathogens.

Hughes awarded an NIAID Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (F31). Erika Hughes is a PhD candidate in Genetics and Genomics working in the Tobin lab. She has been awarded an NIAID Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Predoctoral Fellowship (F31). This award will support Erika’s research on mycobacterial pathogenesis during eicosanoid-mediated immunity.


MGM alumna Yen-Ping Hsueh (PhD ‘08) received Tien Te Lee Young Scientist Biomedical Award in Taiwan for her research on the molecular interactions between carnivorous fungi and the nematode C. elegans. Yen-Ping did her PhD work with Dr. Joseph Heitman studying sex in Cryptococcus at Duke and moved to Caltech for her postdoctoral work with Dr. Paul  Sternberg to investigate the molecular interactions between C. elegans and nematode-trapping fungi.  She established her laboratory at Institute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan in 2015 where she is currently an associate professor and an EMBO Young Investigator.

Heitman received an Mycological Society of America’s distinguished mycologist award.  Joseph Heitman, MD, PhD received the distinguished mycologist award this week from the Mycological Society of America. He joins other distinguished honorees as John Taylor, Rytas Vilgalys, Meredith Blackwell, Jim Anderson, Linda Kohn, and others.  See previous honorees here.  Dr. Hetiman thanked his laboratory and collaborates in the following statement.  “This is truly a reflection of all of your amazing efforts advancing the science, and a testament to all of your contributions to mycology.  From my perspective, it is humbling to be considered a mycologist, let alone a distinguished one.  That reflects the impact of Tim James and Rytas Vilgalys many years ago in teaching a myopic yeast geneticist about the wonder and mystery of the fungal kingdom.”

More information will be in the next issue of the MSA publication Inoculum.

Stacy Horner Headshot

David and Horner recipients of Thomas Langford Lectureship award. Congratulations to Lawrence David and Stacy Horner on being selected as recipients of Duke University’s Thomas Langford Lectureship Award for academic year 2021-22. This program was established in 2000 in tribute to the memory of Thomas Langford, former Divinity School faculty member, Dean, and Provost, who embodied the highest university values of scholarship, teaching, collegiality, and promotion of faculty excellence and community. This annual Langford Lectureship series is designed to offer Duke’s faculty an opportunity to hear about the ongoing scholarly activities of their recently promoted or hired colleagues.

“Congratulations on this tremendous honor, which is a direct reflection of your stellar research program and its impact” – Joseph Heitman

PERFECT 10! Asiya Gusa scored a perfect 10 on her recent MOSAIC K99/R00 application.  Congratulations to Asyia Gusa, Tri-I Molecular Mycology and Pathogeneis Training Fellow and Postdoctoral Fellow in Dr. Sue Jinks-Robertson‘s laboratory. The MOSAIC K99/R00 program is designed to facilitate a timely transition of promising postdoctoral researchers from diverse backgrounds from their mentored, postdoctoral research positions to independent, tenure-track or equivalent faculty positions at research-intensive institutions.  Asiya applied for the program with Dr. Sue Jinks-Robertson as her primary mentor and Dr. Joe Heitman as her co-mentor.

Asiya has exciting research ahead!  A description of her project is below.  The adaptive mechanisms that enable pathogenic fungi to survive the environment-to-host transition and cause persistent human disease are not well understood. In the pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus deneoformans, we have discovered transposon mobilization as a significant cause of mutation during murine infection and in response to heat stress in culture, with the potential to enhance pathogenic traits or enable antifungal drug resistance. In this study, we seek to define the mechanism of stress-induced transposon mutagenesis in C. deneoformans and to determine whether this adaptive genetic strategy contributes to enhanced pathogenesis or drug resistance in disease-causing cryptococcal species during host infection.


John RawlsJoining Forces to Fight Childhood Obesity. John Rawls, Professor in MGM, has teamed up with The Hearts and Parks Program to further investigate pediatric obesity. John Rawls study – Pediatric Obesity Microbiome and Metabolism (POMMS) funded by NIH R24 grant, aims to better understand how gut microbes influence metabolism in adolescents with obesity before and after weight loss intervention. These two projects involve 13 collaborators from across Duke campus who are taking a clinical and multi-omics approach to learn more about pediatric obesity, assess the effectiveness of a clinic-community collaboration to treat it, and better understand how the microbiome and metabolome contribute to intervention success. To read more click here.

Jawahar awarded an American Heart Association Graduate Student Fellowship. Jayanth (Jay) Jawahar, a graduate student in John Rawls’ lab, has been awarded an American Heart Association Graduate Student Fellowship. This award will support Jay’s Ph.D. dissertation research to discern the genes and metabolites used by the human gut bacterium Bacteroides vulgatus to survive and compete with other microbes within the intestine.


Ye awarded a K01 Research Scientist Development Award. Dr. Lihua Ye, a Research Assistant Professor in MGM working in John Rawls’ lab, has been awarded a K01 Research Scientist Development Award from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). This award will support Lihua’s research program to understand the mechanisms by which intestinal bacteria and nutrients communicate with the nervous system through specialized sensory cells in the intestinal epithelium called enteroendocrine cells.

David, Heaton and Hammer recipients of the 2021 Burroughs Wellcome Fund. Congratulations to Lawrence David, Nicholas Heaton, and Secondary Faculty member Gianna Hammer on being named BWF’s 2021 Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease. The award provides opportunities for accomplished researchers to bring multidisciplinary approaches to the study of human infectious diseases.

“An amazing day for MGM, Immunology and Duke to have three recipients out of 11.

They join previous MGM recipients Raphael, Ashley, Jörn, and Stacy, and also myself from the previous BWF Scholar in Molecular Pathogenic Mycology program, the predecessor to the current Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease program.” – Joseph Heitman

To read more click here.


For past news articles please click here.