Microbiology

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  • Department of Microbiology

    The Department of Microbiology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center has 13 full-time faculty with varied research interests, including immunology, virology, bacteriology and parasitology.

    There are presently 10 graduate students working toward their PhDs in the department.

    Department history

    The history of the Department of Microbiology has involved four somewhat arbitrary phases. The first phase involved the two-year School of Medicine at Oxford, MS, when the department was initially titled the Department of Pathology, Bacteriology and Clinical Laboratory Diagnosis (prior to 1949) and later the Department of Bacteriology and Clinical Laboratory Diagnosis (1949-56). The second phase followed the expansion of the Medical School to a four-year program, and its move from Oxford to Jackson in 1955 where shortly thereafter the department's name was changed to the Department of Microbiology.

    In 1957, Dr. Charles Randall, previously a professor at Vanderbilt University, was appointed chairman; he served in this capacity until his retirement in 1978. During his tenure as chairman, the department became internationally known in the research areas of herpes and pox virology. The department developed an expanded graduate program with predoctoral training focused on bacteriology, immunology and virology; 38 PhD degrees were awarded between 1960 and 1978.

    The third phase of the department involved the period from 1979-2004 when Dr. L. William Clem, previously a professor at the University of Florida, served as chairman. During his tenure as chairman, the department developed an international research reputation in the area of immunology, particularly focused on the channel catfish as an ectothermic vertebrate model. Continuing faculty research and teaching expertise was seen in the areas of bacteriology and virology; a significant commitment to parasitology was made in 1993 with the shift of this discipline from preventative medicine to microbiology. During this phase, the department also developed multiuser "state-of-the-art" flow cytometry and Biocontainment Level 3 research facilities.

    The departmental graduate program continued to develop to a point where an average of 24 predoctoral students were enrolled annually; 50 PhD degrees were awarded during 1980-2004. It is also noteworthy that a "freestanding" School of Graduate Studies in the Health Sciences was established at the Medical Center in Jackson in 2001, rather than the previous Graduate Program in the Medical Sciences administered by the University of Mississippi Graduate School in Oxford.

    The fourth and current phase of the Microbiology Department began when Dr. Richard O'Callaghan, formerly a professor at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center and a graduate of the Department of Microbiology at UMMC, became department chairman in May 2005. In this fourth phase, the department is expanding its faculty with renewed emphasis on medical bacteriology and virology.