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School of Medicine Columbia

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Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology

We are primarily involved in teaching, research and service. Our research is well-funded by grant support from federal sources such as the National Institutes of Health and from private foundations. Such support has resulted in high-quality publications in scientific journals as well as presentations at regional, national and international conferences. 

Interdisciplinary Approach

Our department offers a highly interactive research environment conducive to collaborations on interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research projects with others in our school, university and beyond, as evidenced by extramurally-funded center and program project grants. 



Our faculty direct state-of-the-art cores such as the Flow Cytometry and Sorting.  Our other shared resources comprise cutting-edge equipment and technology for Advanced Microscopy, –Omics (Genomics, Epigenomics, Transcriptomics and Microbiome technology) and Metabolic Profiling studies. We welcome you to visit us to see our equipment and resources first-hand.



Our faculty are recognized leaders in their fields. They are appointed to national and international grant-review committees, hold offices in scientific societies, organize conferences and serve on government-appointed panels and scientific journal editorial boards. They participate in teaching courses primarily for medical and graduate students, as well as for post-baccalaureate and physician assistant students. 


Core Courses

A seven-credit-hour, fall semester, second-year course covering fundamental and clinical aspects of microbiology and immunology as they relate to bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. Infectious agents are discussed in relation to their morphology, biology, epidemiology and pathogenesis.

The role of the specific and nonspecific immune systems in defense against infection and disease, as well as in the causation of disease (immunopathogenesis), is emphasized. A section of the course is devoted to special topics in infectious diseases. Primary methods of instruction include lecture, case-based discussion/presentation, patient-oriented problem-solving exercises, clinical correlations and laboratory. Modes of assessment include departmental written multiple choice examination and an assessment of participation in problem-solving exercises, case study discussions and computer simulated laboratory exercises. 

A two-semester, seven-credit-hour (PAMB 641 - fall) and six-credit-hour (PAMB 642 - spring), second-year course that provides students with an understanding of the basic mechanisms of diseases, the body’s response to these diseases and the manifestation of these changes in patient signs, symptoms and tests in specific organ systems. Primary methods of instruction include lecture and small-group discussion. Modes of assessment include a NBME subject examination and departmental multiple choice examinations.

This graduate level course covers immune system components, including the innate and adaptive immune system, their functions and interactions.  Topics on immune system dysregulation and consequences as related to disease and health are included.  Current topics of interest in immunology also are covered. Overall, students will gain an advanced understanding of the immune system.

By the end of this course the student will demonstrate knowledge and understanding in:

  1. the components of the immune system and their functions.
  2. interactions between immune system components.
  3. immune system dysregulation and consequences.
  4. immune response during health and disease.

In this course, students learn and understand the following topics: 

  • Apoptosis and its implications in neurodegenerative and malignant diseases
  • Proteomics in biomedical science
  • Basic concepts of stem cells and their roles in diseases
  • Roles of G-proteins in cell signaling in various disease processes
  • development of gene therapy approaches and gene therapy based therapeutics for basic and clinical applications

A minimum of 4 students is required to conduct this course.

In this course, students learn and understand the following topics:

  • Basic components of different neoplastic diseases and general pathology of neoplasia
  • Mechanisms of metastasis, oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes and telomerase
  • AIDS related malignancies
  • Signaling pathways in cancer
  • DNA and RNA tumor viruses; apoptosis and cancer
  • Stem cells and cancer
  • HPV vaccines; cancer epidemiology and chemoprevention;
  • Environmental carcinogenesis
  • Animal models in cancer research and cancer chemotherapy

A minimum of 4 students is required to conduct this course.

This course is offered in Fall and Spring semesters, primarily to graduate students who have a background in basic Immunology. The format of the course is as a journal club wherein 2-3 papers will be discussed on a weekly basis on current immunology literature that has appeared in high-impact journals like Science, Nature, Nature Medicine, Nature Immunology, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Journal of Immunology, Cell and Immunity.

The scientific paper discussion will include Introduction, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion and Bibliography. One of the most important aspects of this course is to train the student to critique research and to improve the quality of their research by incorporating novel concepts and techniques.

This course is designed to provide graduate students with a fundamental biomedical knowledge base in human pathology and an introduction to the study of the disease process. Particular emphasis will be given to the etiology, pathogenesis and description of gross and microscopic pathologic patterns occurring during the progress and outcome of major human diseases and conditions.

Students will be introduced to the experimental approach of the development and subsequently effective treatment of certain diseases, through the description of animal models simulating related pathologies. With the knowledge of normal histology, and by gaining familiarity of microscopic appearances through a hands-on experience at the lab small groups, students will develop observational and descriptive skills and ultimately deepen their understanding of the underlying mechanisms of disease. By the description of the experimental methodologies, including the murine models of various diseases, they will formulate the causative approach in the study of disease.

Research Area Focus Groups

The research interests of our faculty fall under the following main thematic groups.

  • Prakash Nagarkatti - Epigenetic regulation of inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis and autoimmune hepatitis.
  • Mitzi Nagarkatti- Effect of microbiome in inflammatory diseases such as colitis, obesity and cancer.
  • Angela Murphy – Role of macrophage-induced inflammation in colon cancer.
  • Carole Oskeritzian – Targeting skin inflammation in atopic dermatitis.
  • Jason Kubinak – Interaction of primary antibody deficiency and inflammation caused by host-microbiome dysbiosis.
  • Narendra Singh – Role of aryl hydrocarbon receptor in lupus, MS and diabetes.
  • Kandy Velazquez – Involvement of macrophage-produced tumor necrosis factor alpha in preclinical models of colitis and colon cancer.
  • Angela Murphy – Effect of exercise in obesity and metabolic disorders.
  • Reilly Enos – Cellular and molecular mechanisms in induction of obesity and metabolic syndrome.
  • Prakash Nagarkatti - Cannabinoid receptor antagonists in the treatment of obesity.
  • Mitzi Nagarkatti - Gut microbiome in obesity.
  • Kandy Velazquez – Role of exercise and obesity in muscle wasting disorders.
  • Carole Oskeritzian – Role of mast cells and eosinophils in allergies including asthma and atopic dermatitis.
  • Prakash Nagarkatti – Epigenomic studies on the effects of plant products (resveratrol and cannabinoids) in the treatment of multiple sclerosis, colitis and obesity.
  • Mitzi Nagarkatti – Effects of dietary supplements (indoles, etc.) on regulation the microbiome in colitis, acute lung injury, MS and obesity.
  • Angela Murphy – Role of exercise and dietary products (curcumin, quercetin and emodin) in breast and colon cancer as well as obesity-driven cancer progression.
  • Narendra Singh – Therapeutic efficacy of resveratrol and other AhR ligands on MS, lupus and diabetes.
  • Kandy Velazquez – Development of dietary quercetin to treat muscle wasting disorders.  The effects of Ojeok-san on neuro-immune interactions in cancer-induced visceral pain.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.