Microbiology (Ph.D.)

View PDF of Microbiology Admissions Checklist
Prospective students should use this checklist to obtain specific admissions requirements on how to apply to Graduate School.

View PDF version of the Microbiology Theme description

Degree Offered:



Dr. Janet Yother


(205) 934-9531


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Web site:



G.M. Anantharamaiah, Professor; Medicine; Apolipoproteins, Amphipathic Helices and Atherosclerosis

Prescott Atkinson, Associate Professor; Mycoplasma; Asthma; Signal transduction in lymphocytes

David Bedwell, Professor; Translation termination; treatment of genetic diseases

Jorge Benitez, Associate Professor

Suresh Boppana, Professor; Pediatric viral infectious diseases

David Briles, Professor; Bacterial pathogenesis; virulence; immunity; pneumococcus; tuberculosis

Bill Britt, Professor

David Chaplin, Professor

Louise Chow, Professor; Molecular and Cell Biology of Human Papillomaviruses

Jim Collawn, Professor; Cell surface receptors & epithelial cell biology

Terje Dokland, Associate Professor; Structure and assembly of viruses

Kevin Dybvig, Professor; Mycoplasmas; genetics; phenotypic switching; DNA rearrangements

Elena Frolova, Assistant Professor; Alphavirus-host interaction

Ilya Frolov, Professor; Replication and pathogenesis of positive-strand RNA viruses

Kohtaro Fujihashi, Professor; Mucosal immunity; periodontal disease; inflammatory disease

G. Yancey Gillespie, Professor; Molecular & viral therapy of malignant primary brain tumors

Paul Goepfert, Associate Professor; Virology; vaccines

Laurie Harrington, Assistant Professor; Chronic inflammatory disorders; CD4 T-cell memory

N. Patrick Higgins, Professor; Mobile DNA: Structure, Enzymology and Regulation

Susan Hollingshead, Professor; Mechanisms of variation in microbial pathogenesis

John Kappes, Associate Professor

N. Rama Krishna, Professor; Structural Biology and Biomolecular NMR Spectroscopy

Elliot Lefkowitz, Associate Professor; Viral genomics, Evolution, Bioinformatics, and Biodefense

Ming Luo, Professor; Structure-based approaches to anti-infectious agents

Suzanne Michalek, Professor; Vaccine delivery systems; mucosal

Casey Morrow, Professor; Viral morphogenesis and replication; gene therapy and vaccines

Moon Nahm, Professor; Vaccines; Streptococcus pneumoniae; bacterial pathogenesis; immunity

Michael Niederweis, Associate Professor; Role of porins in outer membrane permeability & drug resistance of mycobacteria

Jan Novak, Associate Professor; Immunoglobin glycosylation; IgA nephropathy

Robert Novak, Professor; Malaria, mosquito-borne viruses

Peter Prevelige, Professor; Viral capsid self-assembly

David Pritchard, Professor; Biochemical characterization of virulence factors of gram positive bacteria

Matthew Renfrow, Assistant Professor; High resolution mass spectrometry in biomedical research

Jamil Saad, Assistant Professor; Biochemistry and structural biology of retroviruses

David Schneider, Assistant Professor; Regulation of RNA polymerase I transcription initiation and elongation

George Shaw, Professor; Human retroviruses; molecular virology and pathogenesis

Yuhua Song, Assistant Professor; Modeling of biological systems

Chad Steele, Associate Professor; Lung immunology and fungal host defense

Adrie Steyn, Assistant Professor; Mechanism of Mycobacterium tuberculosis virulence

Sunnie Thompson, Assistant Professor; Translation, Molecular virology

Charles Turnbough, Professor; Gene expression and regulation

Mark Walter, Associate Professor; X-ray crystallography; cytokine structure/function

Richard Whitley, Professor; Herpes simplex virus; varicella zoster virus

Hui Wu, Associate Professor; Genetics and pathogenesis of oral infectious diseases

Janet Yother, Professor; Streptococcus pneumoniae genetics and pathogenesis; Capsular polysaccharides

Nabiha Yusuf, Instructor; Environmental influences on immune system

Allan Zajac, Associate Professor; Anti-viral immunity; T-cell responses

Theme Information


The Microbiology Graduate Program is a part of the UAB Graduate Biomedical Sciences Program. We are an interdisciplinary program emphasizing the study of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. Over 40 faculty members from the Departments of Microbiology, Cell Biology, Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, Genetics, Pathology, Medicine, Pediatrics, and Dentistry are involved in internationally renowned research and the training of Ph.D.-level graduate students. Currently, more than 70 students are in training in the laboratories of our faculty. Primary areas of research interest include the genetics, physiology, and molecular biology of microbes and how microbial pathogens cause disease. Basic cellular processes, host-pathogen interactions, and the design of innovative strategies for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases are under study in the laboratories of our faculty. Students graduating from the Program are well-versed in modern microbiology and have the experience to pursue a diversity of career opportunities.

 Admission Requirements

Acceptance is based on undergraduate record (curriculum and grade point average [GPA]), Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, letters of recommendation, a personal statement of research and career interests, and past research activities. Domestic candidates who pass the first round of selection will be invited to visit UAB and meet the Immunology faculty and students.

The general requirements for acceptance into the Theme are:

  • minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • combined verbal/quantitative GRE score ≥1100
  • a strong background in biology, chemistry, and/or mathematics. Undergraduate level courses in immunology, cell biology, biochemistry, physics, genetics, organic and analytical chemistry are strongly encouraged.  Undergraduate mathematics through calculus is also recommended. 

International students must submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) earned within the last two years.  Applicants with scores of 600 (paper-based) or 250 (computer-based) or higher will be considered.

All students in the program receive a stipend (currently $25,000), tuition and fees, and single coverage health insurance.  Support is provided by the Theme, by the student's mentor, or through one of many fellowship programs.

 Overview of the Program

The program emphasizes interdisciplinary training in all areas of modern microbiology.  The first year of the program involves fundamental coursework and three research-based rotations in laboratories of the student's choosing. A qualifying examination is held in the second year.  Advanced coursework, journals clubs, and dissertation research occur in the second and subsequent years.  It is expected that completion of the program will require five to six years.

To broaden their research experience, students are introduced to research at the national and international levels through seminars presented by outside speakers and by attendance at national and international scientific meetings.  Students take an active role in inviting and hosting speakers at UAB, and they are strongly encouraged to present their own results at outside meetings.  An annual retreat held off-campus allows students to present their research and fosters collegiality between students, postdoctoral fellows, and faculty.  

Additional Information

Deadline for Entry Term(s):

Consult Program Director for information

Deadline for All Application Materials to be in the Graduate School Office:

Domestic Applications: Jan 31

International Applications: Jan 15

Number of Evaluation Forms Required:


Entrance Tests


For detailed information, contact Dr. Janet Yother, Program Director, UAB Microbiology Graduate Theme,  University of Alabama at Birmingham, BBRB 661, Birmingham, Alabama 35294-2170.

Telephone (205)934-9531

Fax (205)996-6749

E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Web http://www.uab.edu/medicine/microbiology/


Course Descriptions

Microbiology Theme

Graduate Biomedical Sciences Core Curriculum

Block 1 - Biochemistry/Metabolism

  • Amino acids and primary protein structure
  • Protein secondary and tertiary structure
  • Postranslational modifications and allosteric changes
  • Glycobiology
  • Lipid structure and metabolism
  • Thermodynamic principles of biochemical reactions
  • Enzyme kinetics
  • Enzyme mechanisms and regulation
  • Amino acid/nitrogen metabolism
  • Glycolysis, gluconeogenesis and citric acid cycle
  • Glycogenesis, glycogenolysis and pentose phosphate pathway
  • Electron transport/oxidative phosphorylation

Block 2 - Genetics/Molecular Biology

  • DNA recombination
  • Nucleic acids & DNA replication
  • Prokaryotic transcription
  • Prokaryotic translation
  • Prokaryotic gene regulation
  • Eukaryotic genome organization
  • Eukaryotic DNA replication
  • Eukaryotic transcription
  • Eukaryotic translation
  • Eukaryotic gene regulation I
  • Eukaryotic gene regulation II
  • Mendelian inheritance
  • Genetic variation and polymorphisms

Block 3 - Biological Organization

  • Integrated systems: From organelles to organs
  • Membrane structure/function
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Secretion
  • Endocytosis, lysosomal targeting, protein degradation
  • Biochemistry of signal transduction
  • Cell cycle
  • Cell-cell junctions and polarity
  • ECM and ECM-cell interactions
  • Cell motility
  • Apoptosis
  • Discipline of pharmacology
  • Pharmacokinetics

Advanced Courses and Journal Clubs

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics

BMG 731. Advanced Eukaryotic Molecular Genetics.

BMG 732. Mechanisms of Enzyme Catalysis.

BMG 733. Fermentation Technology.

BMG 734. Protein Structure.

BMG 735. Genomic Engineering Using Lambda Red

BMG 743. Advanced Metabolism.

BMG 747. Connective Tissue Biochemistry.

BMG 748. Membranes and Organelles.

BMG 751. Advanced Virology.

BMG 753. Protein Crystallography.

BMG 757. Physical Biochemistry.

BMG 758. Structure of Nucleic Acids.

BMG 759. Macromolecular Modeling.

BMG 760. Nuclear Magnetic Resonance.

BMG 761. Advanced Eukaryotic Molecular Biology.

BMG 762. Human Biochemistry and Genetics.

BMG 771. Dental Biochemistry.

BMG 775. Special Topics in Biochemistry.

BMG 776-780. Special Topics in Biochemistry.

BMG 781-785. Advanced Special Topics.

BMG 786. Journal Club in Free Radicals and Biology Oxidations.

BMG 787. Journal Club in Molecular Structure.

BMG 788. Journal Club in Fermentation.

BMG 789. Journal Club in Biological Crystallography.

BMG 790. Journal Club in Developmental Biology.

BMG 791. Journal Club in Gene Therapy.

BMG 792. Journal Club in Physical Biochemistry.

BMG 793. Journal Club in DNA Virology.

BMG 794. Journal Club in Molecular Neurobiology.

BMG 795. Journal Club in Molecular Biology.

BMG 796. Journal Club in Advanced Eukaryotic Molecular Biology.

Department of Cell Biology

CB 710. Extracellular Matrix and Cell Behavior.

CB 711. Cell Adhesion and Extracellular Matrix.

CB 712. Developmental Biology.

CB 713. Growth Factors Journal Club.

CB 715. Current Topics in Cell Biology.

CB 722. Vascular Biology.

CB 723. Membranes & Glycobiology.

CB 726. Genetics in Cell Biology.

CB 728. Cell Biology of Human Disease.

CB 729. Mechanisms of Signal Transduction.

CB 748. Special Problems in Cell Biology.

CB 756. Molecular Biology of Cell Adhesion.

Department of Microbiology

MIC 720. Advanced Topics in Microbiology I.

MIC 721. Advanced Topics in Microbiology II.

MIC 723. RNA Virus Journal Club.

MIC 737. Mucosal Immunology Journal Club.

MIC 753. Practical Application of Sequence Analysis Software.

MIC 772. Bacterial Pathogenesis Journal Review & Research Workshop.

MIC 780. Selected Readings in Molecular Cell Biology.

MIC 785. Biology of Parasitism Discussion Group.

MIC 786. Retrovirology Journal Club.

MIC 789. Journal Club in Biological Crystallography.

MIC 794. Structural Virology Journal Club.

MIC 796. Neuroimmunology Journal Club.

MIC 797. Cellular and Molecular Immunology Journal Club.

MIC. Pathogenesis of Gram-Positive Bacteria