The PhD program in the Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology prepares students for competitive research and teaching careers in academia, government agencies, and private industry. Our PhD students complete coursework that emphasizes the fundamentals of pathogen biology, immunology, cell biology, and molecular biology, which provides the necessary educational basis to conduct independent research mentored by our faculty.


Recent graduates hold the following positions:

  • Post-doctoral research fellow, NIH Critical Care Medicine Department
  • Assistant professor, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, George Washington University, School of Public Health and Health Services
  • Research assistant professor, Center for Global Health, University of New Mexico
  • Associate service fellow, CDC
  • Post-doctoral visiting fellow, Hillman Cancer Center, University of Pittsburgh
  • Immunology sales specialist, Prolmmune, Inc.
  • Post-doctoral fellow, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center
  • Director, NIH Academy Office of Intramural Training and Education

PhD employment 2016635919365802260342

Recent dissertation titles:

  • Effects of SIV Infection on Lymphoid Chemokine CXCL13, Paneth Cell Phenotype and Intestinal Antimicrobial Peptide Expression
  • HIV-1 Nef-Src Family Kinase Interaction: A Novel Target for the Inhibition of HIV-1 Pathogenesis
  • Novel mechanisms of cytokine signaling on T-cell and MDSC function in glioma development
  • The Effect of Epstein-Barr Virus Latent Membrane Protein 2 Expression on the Kinetics of Early B Cell Infection and Immortalization

Browse further titles in D-Scholarship - the institutional repository for research output at the University of Pittsburgh.


Graduates will be able to...

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the molecular biology of hosts and pathogens and how pathogenesis of infectious diseases evolves from the interactions of organisms on a molecular level.
  • Demonstrate comprehensive knowledge of the mechanisms of innate and acquired immunity and the role of immune functions in health and disease.
  • Demonstrate an ability to analyze and interpret data from scientific publications in the field of molecular biology, microbiology, immunology, or infectious diseases.
  • Show an ability to think independently and demonstrate comprehensive knowledge in a specific area of microbiology related to the student’s dissertation work.
  • Conduct independent laboratory-based research leading to a first author publication in a professional peer-reviewed journal.


  • 72 credits, about half coursework and half research
  • Coursework in microbiology, immunology, and molecular virology
  • Coursework in public health foundations and research ethics
  • Advanced coursework in pathogenesis
  • Advanced dissertation research and coursework in an area of specialization

Full program information:
Student Handbook


Velpandi Ayyavoo
Associate professor, and director of IDM graduate programs and PhD program
2117 Public Health