Mengxi JiangDr. Mengxi Jiang joined the microbiology department in January 2014.Growing up in Shanghai, China, Mengxi Jiang attended Fudan University where she received her undergraduate degree in 2001. Later that year, she moved to the United States and began research in bacteriology at the University of Michigan. When she received her Ph.D., she took a different direction and accepted a postdoctoral position at University of Michigan in the area of virology. “While working toward my Ph.D., I became more interested in the interplay of the host and pathogen. This led me into the field of virology,” says Jiang.

In 2012, Jiang became a research investigator at the University of Michigan, where she worked two years on the host-pathogen interactions of a human DNA tumor virus, BK polyomavirus (BKPyV). Now, as assistant professor in the microbiology department at UAB, she continues to search for a better understanding of the BKPyV life cycle to aid in the design of novel, more efficient anti-viral strategies.

“BKPyV infection is ubiquitous in the human population and occurs during early childhood,” says Jiang. “Primary infection with BKPyV is followed by dissemination to the kidney and urinary tract, in particular to kidney tubule epithelial cells and urinary tract epithelial cells, where the virus establishes a lifelong persistent infection. This infection remains asymptomatic in immunocompetent individuals, but under conditions of immunosuppression, BKPyV can undergo reactivation resulting in viral shedding in the urine and may eventually lead to severe diseases such as polyomavirus-associated nephropathy (PVAN) in renal transplant patients and hemorrhagic cystitis in bone marrow transplant recipients.”

Jiang says that no specific antiviral drugs for BKPyV infection are currently available, although the incidence of BKPyVrelated disease has greatly increased in the last few years. The immune components that are involved in controlling BKV persistence and reactivation are not well defined. As a new assistant professor, Jiang is looking to fill several positions in her lab. She enjoys sharing her excitement for research with students just entering the field. “It is important for students to learn how to do science, to think critically, and to establish their independence,” says Jiang.

Committed to the study of infectious and immune-mediated diseases

The UAB Department of Microbiology is consistently ranked amongst the best microbiology departments in the country, and faculty currently hold more than 50 grants and $13 million in extramural grant funding. We are a vibrant highly collaborative research community actively serving the university mission of excellence in research, service and teaching. 

It is an exciting time to be a scientist at UAB and in the Department of Microbiology. The department is actively recruiting new faculty members and with our existing cadre of investigators and the new faculty who join us, we plan to capitalize on the department’s strong foundation and heritage to build a scientifically rich environment that will allow us to meet our twin missions of carrying out cutting-edge, fundamental basic and translational research to improve human health and educating the next generation of scientists who will lead the fight against infectious and immune-mediated diseases.

Research

We are improving human health by carrying out cutting-edge, fundamental basic and translational research focusing on the bacteria, viruses and parasites that cause human disease. Faculty in the Department of Microbiology have research programs in five broad yet interconnected areas; Microbial Pathogenesis, Immunology, Virology, Structural Biology and Cancer.

Education

We are educating and training the next generation of scientists, educators and entrepreneurs who will lead the fight against infectious and immune-mediated diseases. Department of Microbiology faculty participate in teaching classes to undergraduate, graduate and medical students and serve as the organizers and course directors for a number of the graduate level classes.

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