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University of Pittsburgh    
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 14, 2024
2023-2024 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog

Microbiology and Immunology (PhD)

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The Program in Microbiology and Immunology (PMI) is an innovative program in graduate education that is administered through the School of Medicine of the University of Pittsburgh. The program aims to train highly motivated PhD students as self-reliant scholars in an environment where they have ready access to the breadth of expertise, approaches and sub-disciplines of microbiology and immunology. Students in this program will gain broad knowledge of diverse fields within microbiology and immunology, which is supplemented by seminars, journal clubs and laboratory rotations. The program rapidly immerses students into a research environment, and mentors them to become independent and creative scientists.

PMI brings together faculty in basic and translational sciences, including researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (Departments of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics and Immunology; Center for Vaccine Research; Microbiome Center), Magee-Women’s Research Institute, Rangos Research Center at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Center (e.g. Cancer Virology and Cancer Immunology Programs).

Faculty research interests in the PMI can be broadly divided into the following areas:

  • Autoimmunity
  • Basic immunological mechanisms
  • Bacteriology
  • Cancer immunology
  • Discovery and development of novel antimicrobial therapies
  • Host-pathogen interactions
  • Immunology of organ transplantation
  • Innate Immunity
  • Parasitology
  • Viral and bacterial pathogenesis
  • Virology


Contact Information


Zandrea Ambrose, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine

450 Technology Drive, 520 BRDG2

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Phone: 412-624-0512



Associate Director:



Program Coordinators:

Kristin DiGiacomo



Candace Kuo



Program Website:

Admission Requirements and Procedures


Students with at least a baccalaureate degree in biological or physical science or in mathematics, computer science or engineering are encouraged to apply. Admissions are based upon the student’s academic record, letters of recommendation, previous research experience, written statement of interest and a personal interview. Applicants who are citizens of countries where English is not the official language (and the Province of Quebec in Canada) are required to submit evidence of English Language proficiency by submitting the official results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). A minimum TOEFL score of 600 (paper) or 100 (iBT), or IELTS score of at least 7.00 is required for admission to the Program. Applicants who have earned a bachelor’s degree or a higher degree from a regionally accredited institution in the United States are exempt from submitting English language proficiency test results.

Additional information and a link to the online application can be a found at


Financial Assistance

All full-time students receive a stipend, educational enrichment fund, computing and network service, and individual health insurance (with option to purchase additional family coverage) during their graduate training.

Degree Requirements

This is an accelerated program that provides the opportunity for students to complete their degrees in approximately 4-6 years. Students enter the program in the fall sessions and perform four research rotations during their first year. It is expected that four rotations of seven weeks each will be performed in different laboratories of members of the PMI training faculty, but there are several circumstances where the requirement for four rotations or laboratories might be relaxed. Additional information can be found in the Student Handbook on our website by clicking here

A minimum of 72 credits is required for graduation with a PhD. Of these, 32 credits must come from approved courses, both required and elective course work, and 40 of these credits are taken as dissertation research credits upon completing the comprehensive examination, to be held during the fall term of the second year and advancing to candidacy. Required course work includes the following:

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