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James M. Slauch


Microbes drive all aspects of life on the planet. Finding solutions to many of our pressing global challenges, such as skyrocketing antimicrobial resistance, emergence of new infectious diseases, and the health of our planet’s ecosystems, will depend upon discoveries from basic microbiology research. The Department of Microbiology at the University of Illinois has developed and maintained the highest national and international reputation for more than 100 years. We have built upon our distinguished history (evidenced by the recent designation as a “Milestones in Microbiology” site by the American Society for Microbiology) by recruiting and retaining outstanding microbiologists who are making exciting discoveries in diverse fields while training students in cutting edge research. Our research faculty are highly productive and impactful. Nine of the eleven current senior faculty have been elected Fellows of the American Academy of Microbiology.

James M. Slauch, Head

Microbiology News

Inflammasomes play a critical role in the innate cellular immune response to pathogen infection. The inflammasome, a cytosolic multiprotein complex, recognizes substrates produced during infection or tissue damage, and triggers an inflammatory response by releasing the proinflammatory cytokine IL-1β and IL-18. Researchers have recently identified bromodomain-containing protein-4 (Brd4) as a key epigenetic regulator of the genes involved in inflammasome activation. Researchers from the University of Illinois School of Molecular & Cellular Biology have determined that inhibition or deletion of Brd4 in myeloid cells suppresses the inflammasome activation and the associated immune response in response to Salmonella infection.
Professor John. E. Cronan, Microbiology Alumni Professor and professor of biochemistry at the University of Illinois, is a leading researcher and innovator in the field of lipid metabolism. His recent work focuses on the synthesis of biotin and its building blocks across different species of bacteria. His publication with biochemistry graduate student Yuanyuan Hu uncovers the mechanism for synthesis of the biotin precursor that provides most of the biotin carbon atoms, the pimelate moiety, in α-proteobacteria.
Dietary fiber found in grains is a large component of many diets, but little is understood about how we digest the fiber, as humans lack enzymes to break down the complex molecules. Some species of gut bacteria break down the fiber in such a way that it not only becomes digestible, but releases ferulic acid, an important antioxidant with multiple health benefits, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
The School of Molecular & Cellular Biology is proud to have accomplished ten new faculty hires over the last three years! These strategic hires have been made in areas of brain plasticity, virology and immunology, developmental biology, and microbiology. These outstanding new recruits, together with our current accomplished faculty, will strengthen and enrich our path-breaking research endeavors in the school and with campus initiatives such as the Beckman Institute, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, and the Microbial Sciences Initiative.
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In Memoriam

Remembering Dr. Ralph Wolfe
Remembering Dr. Abigail Salyers