Training Program

The Program
The Graduate Program in the Department of Immunology & Microbial Disease has an emphasis on research training in infectious disease pathogenesis and protection. The emergence of new pathogens, the increasing development of drug resistance and the threat of bioterrorism have combined to create an increased demand for investigations into the mechanisms of disease and the body's ability to combat these diseases. Specialized areas within the Department of Immunology & Microbial Disease include immunology, microbial and viral pathogenesis, and molecular mechanisms responsible for human disease.

Of particular note is the collaborative nature of the Research and Training Program within the Department of Immunology and Microbial Disease. Our Program brings together a diverse group of investigators, including 18 faculty members and numerous predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees, with particular expertise in the fields of microbiology, cell biology, and immunology. The research and training effort, currently supported by over $30M in federal funding, concentrates on exploring in an integrated fashion, host-pathogen interactions during infections with various microbes, including influenza virus, Category A biothreats such as Francisella tularensis and Yersinia pestis, HIV-1, Lyme disease, MRSA and pneumococcal infections.  The Program is supported by a state-of-the-art Biosafety Level 3 laboratory and animal facility that allows the use of highly virulent human pathogens in mice and is one of only a few such facilities in the region. The Program also includes Core Immunology and Microbiology Laboratories that provide modern instrumentation and technical support for cell analysis and sorting, confocal microscopy, immunohistology, and immune cytokine quantitation. The results of our studies will ultimately be used to evaluate new vaccination strategies and vaccine candidates against human microbial pathogens.

Program Information

We offer Doctor of Philosophy and Masters of Science degrees with a concentration in Immunology & Microbial Disease. The program is research-oriented with strengths in the areas of immunology, bacterial and viral pathogenesis, and control of cell growth. The small faculty to student ratio facilitates one-on-one interactions on a daily basis both in the laboratory and the classroom. Many of our research activities involve collaborations with investigators in other research programs within the College, as well as other universities, research institutions, and corporations. Our research is supported by grants from the National Institute of Health, Department of Defense, American Lung Association, and the biotechnology industry.

The Course of Study
The bulk of the didactic work required for the Training Program is completed by the end of the student's first year. The Training Program in Immunology & Microbial Disease begins with a common Fall semester program required of all first year graduate students. This includes core courses in Molecular Cell Biology and Biochemistry that provide foundation material in a literature-based format for more advanced study in the Spring semester and in subsequent years. During the first semester, students within this training program also take a biomedical sciences colloquium that involves in-depth discussions of current literature that are complementary to the lectures in molecular cell biology and biochemistry.

During the Spring semester Immunology & Microbial Disease students take an introductory course in immunology and a course in microbial disease. They also participate in weekly meetings in which students present recent research papers and the results of their ongoing thesis work. In the second and third years, students select a series of advanced courses consistent with their thesis research.

In addition to formal coursework, major emphasis during the first year is placed on completing a minimum of 3 research rotations in preceptor laboratories. Each rotation is 10 to 11 weeks in length and is graded on a P/F basis. The purpose of these rotations is to 1) identify a dissertation advisor and 2) gain exposure to various techniques used in immunology and microbial disease research. The rotation period is not intended to be a techniques course; rather, it is specifically designed to teach the scientific method by providing each student with a project that can be completed within the allotted time period.

Students typically require five to six years to complete the requirements to obtain a Ph.D. degree. Students enrolled in the M.S. program normally take two to three years to complete their requirements.

Students also participate in the weekly Visiting Scientist Lecture Series, the AMC Biodefense Seminar Series, and the annual Upstate Immunology Conference held at The Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing, New York. Nationally and internationally recognized scientists spend time at these events meeting one-on-one with the students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty within the Immunology and Microbial Disease Training Program. This provides trainees the opportunity to discuss their research with experts within the field and to foster scientific interactions at the national level.

An advantage of our Program is that all Ph.D. students are supported by either institutional funds or funds derived from faculty research grants. Current support includes a tuition waiver, health insurance and a research stipend ($24,000 per year).

The School

Albany Medical College, one of the nation's oldest private medical schools, prides itself in offering an intimate, collegial environment that fosters humane values and genuine learning. The institution was founded in 1839 with an initial enrollment of 57 medical students. Over 80 faculty in four research centers are engaged in the training of Masters and Doctoral candidates in basic science fields. Our well-equipped laboratories contain the most modern research tools and equipment for both faculty and students. As expressed in the Act of Incorporation, the primary mission of Albany Medical College is to "promote medical science and instruction in the departments of learning connected therewith." Albany Medical College continues to pursue excellence in the education of health care personnel, research in the basic and clinical medical sciences, and services to the community.

For more information click here to contact IMD's Director of Graduate Studies.