Thomas A. Russo MD

Thomas Russo

Thomas A. Russo

Professor and Chief, Infectious Disease

Department of Medicine

Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences

Specialty/Research Focus

Infectious Disease; Microbial Pathogenesis

Contact Information
Jacobs School of Medicine of Biomedical Sciences, room 5212
University at Buffalo
955 Main St.
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: (716) 829-2674
Fax: (716) 829-3889

Patient Care

This faculty member is affiliated with UBMD, practicing physicians who are also professors in the Jacobs School.

View this physician on UBMD

Professional Summary:

I am an expert in infectious diseases, and I care for hospitalized patients at the Buffalo VA Medical Center (Buffalo VAMC).

I have an active, nationally funded translational research program. My research focuses on Gram-negative bacilli (GNB), including Escherichia coli, Acinetobacter baumannii and a new hypervirulent variant of Klebsiella pneumoniae.??

These GNB cause infection in nearly every nonintestinal site in the body. The hypervirulent variant of K. pneumoniae is both fascinating and worrisome. Unlike its predecessors, it is capable of causing infection in young, healthy hosts and spreading nearly anywhere in the body from the initial infected site, including the eyes and brain. GNB-caused infections result in the loss of billions of health care dollars, millions of work days and hundreds of thousands of lives each year.??

GNB are becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics, including strains that have become resistant to all available antibiotics. Unfortunately, there are virtually no new antimicrobial agents active against highly resistant GNB in the pharmaceutical “pipeline.” To address this formidable clinical challenge, my collaborators and I have increased our understanding of the bacterial factors that are critical for these GNB to cause infection. We use this information to develop vaccines that will prevent infection and antibodies that can be used to treat infection. My UB collaborators include Dr. Campagnari (microbiology), Dr. Gulick (structural biology) and Drs. Elkin and Zola (biomedical informatics). My research also involves identifying potential bacterial drug targets; this information will be used to develop new classes of antibiotics.
I intermittently have students in my lab, and I participate in a grant designed to encourage medical students to become physician-scientists. I welcome interested students to contact me about conducting research with me.?? ??

The Buffalo VAMC is the site of my clinical teaching. I teach first- and second-year medical students in lecture settings and small group sessions, including courses in lung respiration, musculoskeletal, renal and microbiology-immunology. Residents attend my grand rounds; I also teach fellows in all aspects of their training and mentor those who perform their research projects in my lab.??

Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic I have served as a resource to educate and inform healthcare providers, the public, and businesses on how to best manage this evolving crisis.

Education and Training:

  • Certificate, Management, University at Buffalo School of Management (2015)
  • Fellowship, Infectious Disease, Tufts-New England Medical Center (1988)
  • Medicine, Harvard-New England Deaconess Hospital (1985)
  • McGill University (1982)


  • Professor, Medicine, University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (1994-present)
  • Vice Chair of Finance, Department of Medicine, University at Buffalo (2012–2019)
  • Senior Staff Fellow, Laboratory of Clinical Investigation, National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (1989–1994)
  • Clinical Assistant Instructor, Division of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Tufts University (1988–1989)

Awards and Honors:

  • The Chancellor Charles P. Norton Medal (2021)
  • SUNY Distinguished Professor (2021)
  • Dean's Award-Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (2020)
  • Veterans Administration Biomedical Laboratory R&D Senior Clinical Scientist Award (2019)
  • Stockton Kimball Award (2017)
  • University at Buffalo Exceptional Scholar Sustained Achievement Award (2012)
  • Visionary Inventor: UB technology licensed to Zeptometrix Corp. (2009)
  • Top 100 Principal Investigators at the University at Buffalo (2005)
  • SUNY Inventor award (for U.S. patent # patent 6,410,703) (2003)
  • Top 100 Federal Grantees at the University at Buffalo (2002)
  • F. Carter Pannill Award (1997)
  • IDSA-Stuart Pharmaceutical Fellowship in Infectious Diseases (1987)
  • Hinton Book Award-Residency-Harvard-NE Deaconess Hospital (1985)
  • James McGill Award-McGill University (1981)
  • James McGill Award-McGill University (1980)
  • Faculty Scholar-McGill University (1980)
  • University Scholar-McGill University (1979)

Research Expertise:

  • Acinetobacter baumannii pathogenesis
  • Actinomycosis: infections caused by the genera Actinomyces
  • Bisphosphonate-induced osteonecrosis
  • Drug development: A. baumannii
  • Enteric gram-negative bacilli: Infections caused by Gram-negative bacilli
  • Extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli pathogenesis: pathogenesis vaccine development
  • Host-pathogen interactions: Understanding mechanisms by which extraintestinal patghogenic E. coli modify host defenses
  • Identification of antimicrobial targets
  • Klebsiella pneumoniae pathogenesis: drug target identification pathogenesis biofilms
  • Microbial pathogenesis: Understanding the mechanisms by which extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli, Acinetobacter, and Klebsiella cause disease
  • Pathogenesis of urinary tract infection
  • Vaccine development: Extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Acinetobacter

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • October 2019–September 2023
    Determining the value of PBP 7/8 as an antimicrobial target for XDR-A. baumannii
    Veterans Administration
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • September 2017–August 2022
    Mab Passive Vaccination against Acinetobacter baumannii
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • August 2020–July 2022
    Identification of new or unrecognized virulence genes in hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae and antivirulence genes in classical K. pneumoniae.
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • August 2018–August 2021
    DHODH Inhibitors: A Potential New Class of Antimicrobials for Treatment of the Drug Resistant Gram-Negative Bacillus Acinetobacter baumannii
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • February 2016–January 2020
    Development of a HTP Assay for Inhibitors of Aerobactin Production
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • March 2016–February 2019
    Development of a diagnostic test for hypervirulent Klebsiella pneumoniae
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • February 2016–January 2019
    Development of HTP Assay for Inhibitors of Aerobactin Production(R01AI116998)
    National Institutes of Health
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • March 2015–February 2016
    Purification and identification of ascitocin, a novel or unrecognized antibiotic of human origin
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • August 2014–February 2016
    Monoclonal antibody passive vaccination to treat XDR Acinetobacter infections
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • April 2011–March 2015
    Analysis of A. baumannii capsule as a vaccine candidate
    Veterans Administration
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • September 2011–October 2014
    Identification of New Drug Targets in Multi-Drug Resistant Bacterial Infections
    Department of Defense (DOD)
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • October 2010–October 2013
    Electrical Stimulation of Titanium for the Prevention and/or Eradication of A. baumannii and S. aureus Biofilm Infections on Osseointegrated Prostheses
    Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program-Peer Reviewed Orthopaedic Research Program
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • August 2011–July 2013
    Identification of genes essential for survival of hypervirulent Kleb. pneumonia
    Role: Principal Investigator
  • March 2007–April 2012
    Pathogenesis of Aspiration Pneumonitis
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • July 2001–June 2005
    The Pathogenesis of Grand Negative Bacillary Pneumonia
    US Dept of Health, Educatoin and Welfare
    Role: Principal Investigator
See all (5 more)


  • Identification of a vaccine candidate from an extraintestinal isolate of E A potential vaccine candidate or diagnostic tool for infections due to extraintestinal pathogenic E. coli

Journal Articles:

See all (92 more)

Books and Book Chapters:

  • Russo TA. (2015) In: Actinomycosis and Whipple‘s Disease.
  • Russo TA Johnson JR. (2015) In: Diseases caused by gram-negative enteric bacilli.
  • Russo TA. (2015) In: Actinomycosis.
  • Russo TA. (2014) In: Agents of Actinomycosis.
  • Russo TA. (2009) In: Agents of Actinomycosis.
  • Bianchine PJ, Russo TA. (1992) The role of epidemic infectious diseases in the discovery of America.

Professional Memberships:

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science (2006–present)
  • Fellow, Infectious Diseases Society of America (1993–present)
  • American Society of Microbiology (1989–present)

Service Activities:

  • Faculty Mentoring Committee Members advise junior faculty on their academic career; Committee Member (2017–present)
  • Faculty Council Governance body for the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences; President (2016–2017)
  • T35 Steering Committee-Research in Infectious Diseases, Microbiology & Immunology for Medical Students; Committee Member (2011–present)
  • UBMDIM Board of Directors Practice plan board for the Department of Medicine; Board Member (2011–present)
  • Committee for Evaluation of MD-PhD Training Program; Chair (2011)
  • Ad Hoc Committee for Qualified Promotions; Committee Member (2010–present)
  • Faculty Senate; Member (2009–present)
  • Council Undergraduate Research Academy; Advisory Committee (2009–present)
  • NIH; NIH-Host Interactions with Bacterial Pathogens;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2009)
  • New York State; New York State_Empire Clinical Research Investigator Program;; Grant Reviewer (2008)
  • Undergraduate Research Academy (2008–present)
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research; Canadian Institutes of Health Research-Infectious Diseases;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2007)
  • University Faculty Recognition Committee; Committee Member (2007–present)
  • NIH; NIH SEP ZRG1 RUS-B (05);; Grant Reviewer (2006)
  • NIH; NIH-Host Interactions with Bacterial Pathogens;; Panel Member (2005)
  • Veterans Administration; VA-Infectious Diseases B;; Panel Member (2004–2007)
  • MD-PhD Steering Committee; Committee Member (2004–present)
  • USDA; United States Department of Agriculture;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2004)
  • MSTP Steering Committee; Member (2004–present)
  • NIH; NIH Bacteriology & Mycology1 Study section;; Panel Member (2003)
  • NIH; NIH Lung Biology & Pathology Study Section;; Panel Member (2003)
  • Department of Defense; Defense Health-Related Research Program;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (2000)
  • Faculty Council Steering Committee; Member (2000–2002)
  • VAMC Institutional Animal Care and Usage Committee; Chair (2000–2003)
  • Biosafety; Member (1999–present)
  • Faculty Council; Department Representative (1999–2001)
  • NIH; NIH Micro. & Immuno. Sciences SEP;; Panel Member (1999)
  • University Biosafety Committee; Committee Member (1999–present)
  • NIH; NIH Micro. & Immuno. Sciences SEP;; Panel Member (1998)
  • MSTP Admissions Committee; Member (1998–present)
  • Medical Student Mentoring Program; Student Mentor (1997–2003)
  • Veterans Administration; VA-Infectious Diseases B;; Ad Hoc Reviewer (1997)

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Contact Information

Jacobs School of Medicine of Biomedical Sciences, room 5212
University at Buffalo
955 Main St.
Buffalo, New York 14203
Phone: (716) 829-2674
Fax: (716) 829-3889

This faculty member is affiliated with UBMD, practicing physicians who are also professors in the Jacobs School.

View this physician on UBMD